Every year, I keep track of the books I’m reading. I’ve always done it. It helps me deal with the simple, ugly fact that life is too short to accommodate all the reading I’d really like to do. I used to read at a 100 books per year pace, but then I became a father. Since then, I’ve struggled to get to half that number… and it feels awful.
I’m a bit late on this for 2012, but when every year ends, I typically take a look back at the books I found time for in 2012, just to see whether there’s anything I can glean. With that simple pre-amble, here’s what I noticed.
In 2012, I read 55 books: 25 written by women, 30 by men. Inasmuch as I didn’t consider curating my own reading list with an eye toward gender equity until late in the year, I’m going to call that a victory… and admit that I’m going to be hard-pressed to hit 50% this year, either. A significant percentage of the books I read are science books, and the overwhelming majority of science books are written by men, for what I hope are obvious societal reasons. I will, nonetheless, do what I can here.
Speaking of science books: like I say, I typically read a lot of them, but last year? Only four. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much regret about a year’s worth of reading than I do when I consider that number. Even the nine science fiction books I read don’t make me feel better. (Maybe even a little worse.) I am certain I won’t be saying the same thing at the end of 2013.
What took the place of all those science books last year? Plays. 31 of them, to be precise. I made a concerted effort to keep that number up this year, and I’m pleased to have succeeded. Of course… I realize I have easily dozens of friends who read dozens and dozens more plays than that every single year, year after year, so perhaps my number doesn’t seem that high… but it’s high for me.
Speaking of which: I’m making a concerted effort to read plays by living (female) playwrights, so if you’ve got something to send me…
The only other oddity worth noting in last year’s reading list: no fiction of the non-science variety. Not a single novel in the whole entire year. I don’t know if there’s ever been a twelve-month period in my entire adult life in which I read no novels before this one. And yet… I think I’m okay with it. I’m happily removed from contemporary fiction and relatively well-read in classic fiction, so… I could, if I wanted, take another year or two off. The fact of the matter, though, is that I intend to re-read the Vonnegut oeuvre later this year, and I may also finally knock Anna Karenina off my “Embarrassed to Have Not Read” list, too… so the Year of No Novels will soon be over.