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A Decade of Reading

Michael Chabon did it. He did it in 2000, at Christmas and during the week after. He did it with his fantastic novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. I was never the same afterwards.

I've always been a reader and from a very early age. I devoured books. I reread favorites like The Hobbit; in fact, I read an illustrated version of that novel so much in elementary school that my copy fell apart. I read series; at one point, I had read all 60 or so Hardy Boys books that had been published by 1980 or 1981. I was a library volunteer in middle school and checked out as many books as I could. When I was in college in the early 90s, I would take a weekend to plow through a book, ignoring my homework. By the time the late 90s rolled around, I wasn't reading as much as I had. I was spending much of my free reading time devouring comics, another lifelong passion. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay changed all that.

I don't remember when I first heard about Chabon's novel but I'm sure it was somewhere around its September publication date and most likely in Entertainment Weekly. The synopsis sounded right up my alley - a story set in the early days of comics that featured the fictional creators of The Escapist. I ordered it for my Christmas gift from my wife and then had to wait a few weeks for Christmas too arrive so I could start reading it. I loved it, loved every minute of it. When I finished, I realized I needed to make sure I put more books back in my reading diet and set a goal for reading 36 books in 2001.

I didn't make that goal but I did read 30 books in 2001. In fact, I didn't reach that goal total until 2005, when I read 38 books. What was important, though, was that I was reading more books and keeping track of what I read. I kept improving every year from 2001 to 2005 and then plateaued in 2006 with another 38. The next year I read 44 and followed that with 48 in 2008, which is still my largest number to date. I fell off in 2009, reading 40, and then again in 2010, where I fell back down to 30 once more. The further I got into my college career this time around, the less time I had to read for pleasure. That's okay.

I would often read multiple books from the same author. In 2008, I read all 10 books that made up Kage Baker's Company series. The year before, I reread all 6 of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels in anticipation of the 7th and final novel in the series. I even read 5 Terry Pratchett Discworld novels in two separate years - 2003 and 2005 (I also read his novel with Neil Gaiman, Good Omens, that year).

In all, I read 370 books during that 10 year period, an average of 37 a year. Not bad at all. At this point, I try reading as much as I can and my habit of keeping track of what I'm reading is one I'll have for the rest of my life. It was a rewarding 10 years and I expect the next 10 will be the same.

* Yes, I realize this post is a year late but I punted on my usual year-end posts last year, so I thought I'd throw this up as a precursor. More soon!


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