Sunday, January 29, 2012


Some of the first memories I have of reading are in my parents' bedroom in St. Louis, 'reading' books like Are You My Mother? And Oink! The truth is, I'd memorized them. But I was so proud of myself, knowing how to read at three or four or however old I was.

At eight I was reading all sorts of books from our book cases— we'd started ordering books from Scholastic Inc., for homeschooling, and we got boxes of books before the schoolyear started.

It was… amazing, how many books came. I loved reading. I'd go to the library and read there too.

At ten I started reading animal books. I'm talking 'how to train your dog books,' or 'rabbit care' books. I read about gerbils. I read about budgies, cockatoos, cats, horses… most of the books being from the adult section of the library.

At fourteen though, interest in reading started dimming. I couldn't find books to interest me (looking back on that I wonder how). Though I was still reading, it was nowhere near the book or so a week/month I had been reading before.

I had hit a slump. I didn't notice this slump— I was doing school, having projects (I always had projects, whether it was running an adoptable on or creating a breeding system for a creature I'd just designed), watching TV and surfing the internet (PonyIsland.Net was an obsession of a sort, and probably amounted for more than a bit of my non-reading).

At fifteen, I started having 'required reading.' In the first two weeks of school, I read the Iliad and Shogun (James Clavell), and lost interest in reading for quite some time. In fact, I was so burned out from Shogun (it was… okay. And I read it in three days. 1200 pages in three days.)

I think I read about 20 books in 2010— some of them I've reread since then (Sex, Time, and Power I read October 2011).

One of the best books of 2010 was The Importance of Being Earnest. Yes, it's a play. It's bound in hardcopy. It counts as a book.

In December 2010, though, my cousin Ioana re-introduced me to GoodReads. A friend had sent me a link to it years ago, but I couldn't understand the system at the time, and I think it was much uglier than it is now.

And with the 2011 reading challenge came the idea: 

Can I read 100 books in a year?

I decided to.

I started reading Cișmigiu & Co., a Romanian novel about a young man in highschool in the 1940s. It took me a month to finish the two-part book (the volume also contained another novel by Grigore Băjenaru, Bună Dimineața, Baieti!, which is about being a young schoolteacher), but in the end I managed it.

And then I started reading in earnest. 100 books that year meant about two books a week. 

Until May, I was behind schedule. I read three books in January (two of which were more like 100 pages than actual books), one in February, and finished Cismigiu & Co in March. In April I finished Bună Dimineața, Baieti!

And while we were on the road to Boston for the Religious Olympics (which I won, thus saving my parents a lot of money for what was the best summer camp week ever).

I read 9 books in April (including getting conned into reading The Beach by my dad.)

In May I hated Grapes of Wrath and loved East of Eden, devoured Water for Elephants in time to go see the movie (which was lovely). I discovered Russian novels and raced through Crime and Punishment in three days.

I read Graceling, which is a young adult novel about two people who are graced with a certain strength. The protagonist is graced with Killing, and she meets Po, who's graced with Fighting. The concept of rings in this book was what made it memorable.

I read Nicholas Sparks from May until June, read War and Peace from May to June (marking the first "I'm sick of saying I'm still reading this book so I'm going to finish it" read). I loved Anna Karenina, cried over Gone With the Wind (again), and went into July with The Taming of Lord Astor, which had an interesting instance of dresses making men think a certain way.

July also marked reading The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, both by Dostoevsky. I read The Book Thief, which was… amazing.

Other highlights of the year were reading Ubersleep and Kurt Vonnegut. I read a lot of Lois Lowry in August, gave up on One Day, and adored Juliet and A Comedy of Errors.
I managed to finish Middlemarch, which was another "I'm sick of saying I'm still reading this…" book, and Steve Jobs, which was… interesting.

Some of the best books of this year included The Phantom of the Opera, which made me laugh out loud. Room haunted me.

At some point during July, when I'd caught up to schedule, I decided to read 150 books. And then contemplated 175.

But that didn't happen. So I left the goal off for 2012.

And that promptly fell through the roof. In the first two weeks, I found a storage of Judith McNaught novels— romance (only one of the most captivating genres ever)— and devoured 17 books in 15 days.

Clearly, there was a way to read three hundred books or more on this trip.

And it's been great so far.

I'm at a total of 24 books this year, and it's only Day 29!

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