As 2014 was winding down, I realized that it might be nice to start tracking my reading. The following is a list of what I read in the last half of 2014, because I’m not sure which books I read before July. (This is why I thought it might be nice to keep track.) If I remember to do so, I’ll post a list at the end of each month as I go forward. Here’s what I’m sure I read from July-December, 2014:
- The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
- Cover Her Face by PD James
- A Mind to Murder by PD James
- Unnatural Causes by PD James
- The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
- Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett
- A Drink Before the War by Dennis Lehane
- Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane
- Sacred by Dennis Lehane
- Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane
- Prayers for Rain by Dennis Lehane
- Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
- A Swollen Red Sun by Matthew McBride
- Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
- A Model World: And Other Stories by Michael Chabon
- Werewolves in Their Youth: Stories by Michael Chabon
A few notes on how/what I read:
As you can see, with one exception, it’s all fiction. Apart from my daily Bible reading, a few dozen articles each week, and a couple of select non-fiction books that I am currently reading (so I don’t consider them “read” yet), the majority of my reading is fiction. I’ve found that fiction does not dominate the reading lists for many in ministry, which raises a lot of questions and thoughts. That’s probably better left for a later post, however.
I read all of the above on a Kindle Paperwhite, which allows me to continue reading after Anna’s turned off the lights, and it’s been a pretty great experience. The e-ink screen is easy on the eyes, and I can read in bed without all of the negative consequences that are common to bright tablet screens. In fact, I often fall asleep mid-page, just as with paper books. That was never true when I tried to read on a tablet. This may also explain why I’m flying through fiction–I do not like to read non-fiction books on my Kindle. I like to read those in paper copy with a pen in hand. I read a lot of articles on my Kindle, but for longer, non-fiction books, hard copy seems to be the way to go. So, my bedtime reading is usually fiction.
It looks like the list is skewed towards mystery and crime fiction. Page count might balance things out however, with about half of the pages falling in genre fiction, and the other half falling into general literary fiction. I’m not certain of that–it’s just my subjective sense of things. I enjoy both literary and genre fiction, and I’ve encountered no compelling reason to limit myself to one or the other. That’s probably something for a later post as well.
I’m not sure how many books I read in the first half of the year, but again, my subjective sense of things is that the pace picked up after we moved to Spain. The list above includes 18 books read over the course of 6 months (about 3 books a month), but I would guess that I read only six or seven books from January through June–maybe a couple of science-fiction books, a couple of Scandinavian crime novels, and a couple of short-story collections.
This surprises me–that I have been able to actually increase my reading while here–but I think it’s been possible for a couple of reasons. First, we don’t watch a lot of television here. (Actually, we tried to turn on our TV for a New Year’s Eve Countdown, and it doesn’t work anymore, so we really don’t watch a lot of television here.) So, we read to unwind after the day’s work is done, or to relax after church on Sundays. (We also go for walks.) And second, Spain itself is conducive to reading. Getting around Spain without a car means a lot of time sitting on a bus or train, so I keep a book or my Kindle on hand to make use of that time. Additionally, ministry in Spain can involve a lot of waiting as well. It’s not uncommon to arrive on time for an appointment and have fifteen to thirty minutes before the other party shows up, and I’ve been able to read a good amount in those little windows of time.
So, I’m planning to continue using my down time and those little unexpected pockets to read and write, and I plan to return and post a list every month or two. I also want to come back and address the reading of fiction by Christians and those in ministry, to explain why I fall where I fall on the issue of genre vs. literary fiction, and to write up a description of how I use my Kindle to read and process the large number of useful articles I run across. Also, I’m always up for recommendations on good books, so feel free to let me know if there’s something you think I should read.