After I graduated from college, I stopped reading books.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I mostly stopped reading books.
For a couple years (I’m going to date myself now — I graduated in 2011), I only read the occasional book here and there (though I did go on a book-buying spree, much to my wallet’s chagrin). I couldn’t tell you exactly how many I read in that time period (more than a dozen, as I re-read the entire Harry Potter series, as well both The Hunger Games and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogies, plus some others), but I’m pretty sure I remained above the average of nine books a year for my age range. Still, for an English major who used to read a couple books a week (as well as for someone with lots of friends who are voracious readers), I was reading a paltry amount.
So last year, two things happened to help me get back into reading: I co-founded a book club with my best friend (which I can still attend from across the country, thanks to technology and friends who still want to listen to me spout ideas about books upon occasion), and I created a Google doc to keep track of the books I’ve read from year to year. There’s something about a list that I find motivating — I’m a competitive person, and I also like proof of things I’ve accomplished, so being able to point to a definitive list and say, “Look at how many books I’ve read!” appeals to me. (It also helps me remember when I read certain books; I have pretty bad short-term memory in that regard.) It also lets me evaluate what I’ve been reading and what genres have been appealing to me.
Originally, I had thought to post the list to Tumblr every six months as a way of checking in, but I tend to be more of a lurker on Tumblr, so it really just never happened. But I figure this would be a good place for me to get into that habit, especially as I’ll likely be talking about the books I’m reading in posts down the road. Since tomorrow is the start of July, I figured I’d post my recap from last year today and the recap from the first half of 2014 tomorrow.
So without further ado, here’s the list of books I read in 2013 (an * means it was a book assigned in our book club):
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Waiting Place: Learning to Appreciate Life’s Little Delays by Eileen Button
- The Alchemist* by Paulo Coelho
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society* by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
- The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music * by Steve Lopez
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Book Thief* by Markus Zusak
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
- The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
- Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie* by Alan Bradley
- Born Under a Million Shadows* by Andrea Busfield
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
- Frankenstein* by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
- Ready Player One* by Ernest Cline
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time* by Mark Haddon
- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet* by Jamie Ford
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- A Prayer for Owen Meany* by John Irving
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- The Night Circus* by Erin Morgenstern
So in all, I read 21 books last year — definitely better than I had done in the years prior. Of these books, I had only read The Hobbit and The Great Gatsby before. And a couple of these books (East of Eden and The Book Thief) are now at the top of my favorites list. There were a few books that I was not a huge fan of, but none that I would say I downright hated, either.
It’s really been a joy to rediscover my love of reading, and to expand my “have read” library. I’m still not as well-read as many of my friends, but I’m working on it. I’m on track to read more books this year — just gotta keep up the pace! My goal is to read at least one more book than I did the year before every year from now on, if not more.
Though I suppose at a certain point, that’s going to get harder and harder to accomplish. But since I’m still working my way through all of the books I bought years ago and have yet to read, I don’t think I need to worry about that any time soon.
Have you read any of these books? What books would you recommend I read next? Feel free to let me know in the comments!