Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Salon: On 100 Books Read and the Year of Michael Connelly

The Sunday
On Monday, I hit a major reading milestone for the year: I finished my 100th book. For comparison, in 2013, I only read 94 books all year. In 2012, I read 118 books, but I didn't reach 100 until the end of November. In 2011, I read 108 books and reached 100 in December. In 2010 and 2009 (the earliest year I kept good data on my reading), I didn't make it to 100. For me, 100 is momentous whenever it happens in a year, but to reach it on September 22 surprised me.

Appropriately, book 100 was The Burning Room by Michael Connelly (my review will post on its release date, November 3.) Of the 100 books I've read this year, 27 were written by Michael Connelly. I don't think I've ever read so many books by a single author in a single year. I'm not even sure there are other authors I've read that many books by. Ever. 2014 has clearly been the year of Michael Connelly.

I started my journey with Michael Connelly in February. It was Amazon pilot season, and I decided to watch the pilot of Bosch. I really liked it, and I knew I wanted to read the books before the series premiered (now slated for early 2015.) I read the first Bosch mystery, The Black Echo, in February and was hooked. Twenty-seven books later, I'm sad the journey with Connelly has ended for now. (I would say, "write faster!", but I don't want to compromise quality for speed or quantity.)

As I reflect on hitting 100 books read so early in the year, I have to think about what made this year different. The most obvious thing is the nomadbaby. I spent the first seven and a half months pregnant. I slept a lot, but I also stayed home a lot and read a lot. I was cognizant of how little time I might have to read when he arrived, and I did prioritize reading more. I joked on Twitter that I should just get pregnant every year to keep this pace up (I won't.)

I'm convinced the more obvious reason for my reading surge, however, is getting back to basics. I took away as many barriers to reading as I could by cutting way back on obligations. In 2014, I've accepted only book for review for a specific date (Us by David Nicholls--look for my review on October 7th.) When I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to cut back on reading obligations, and I did. This transition was really easy for a couple of reasons. First, I'm fortunate to get e-galleys of most new titles I want to read. When I was a newer blogger, book tours were the only way I was able to advanced reader copies. With the surge in e-galleys, the model has changed. I've also built a solid reputation as a book blogger, and when I ask a publisher for a copy, the answer is usually yes (which is AMAZING.) Of the 100 books I've read so far, 36 were review copies. I'm still reading plenty of new releases, both courtesy of publishers and the library, but I don't do it on specific days. Without this shift, there's no way I could have found the time to indulge in Connelly's entire backlist this year. Second, I gave myself permission to put down books, temporarily or permanently, if they weren't working for me. Without the obligation to review specific titles, I didn't have to force a book at any given time.

Here's why I won't go back to review obligations: this year, when I finished a book, I didn't look at my calendar to see when my next scheduled review was. Instead, I looked at my shelves, both physical and virtual, and picked the book I most wanted to read. Twenty-seven times, that choice was Michael Connelly. If a book wasn't quite hitting the spot, I could put it aside and pick it up later. As a very moody pregnant person, I put aside a lot of books.

I'm thoroughly enjoying my year of reading what I want, when I want to. This year's list is more mystery-heavy than usual, and I expect that trend will continue for the next several years. With a baby, short, easy-to-digest chapters are often a good thing. I've also read more nonfiction than usual and listened to more audiobooks than usual. I think the variety of reading, both in format and genre, helps me read more. With three months to go, I'm certain to reach my 2014 reading goal of 102 titles. I don't want to get caught up in the number, especially if it caused me to pick books for their length to inflate it. But by comparing this year against the previous five years, it clarifies a lot about my personal reading priorities, and I hope 100 in September is the new normal because I've had more fun reading this year than in most years.

Cheers to making reading (more) fun again. Cheers to reading like a reader rather than reading like a blogger!

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  1. That is awesome that you are reading what you want and getting so much done! You are also inspiring me to go catch up on my Vi

  2. That should have been Vince Flynn books.. (It wouldn't let me post anymore!)

  3. Cheers, indeed, to making reading more fun again!

  4. Yes! Because reading like a reader is so much more enjoyable! :) Nicely said! I need to work on this more myself!

  5. That is quite the milestone. I only hit 50, so far but I am good with it. I think I read close to that last year for the entire year. I was in a funk last year and could not read much.

  6. Great job! I've yet to read 100 books in a year....someday. I have backed away from blog tours and so specific dates to review are completely self imposed. I do feel better about my book choices, and plan to choose all older titles in November and December, not looking for any new books those months.

  7. So amazing! I've given myself "maternity leave" to be off tours, but I might try to wean myself off tours entirely as I've no idea how I'll be able to read, review, and care for a baby when I can barely read and review without one! (I'm also envious of the pregnant ladies I know who can read -- I'm so sleepy all the time and find myself more often than not just vegging in front of the tv, alas.). But really glad you hit 100 -- that was my goal this year, and I think I'll be lucky to hit 50.


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