Books, Thoughts

My Last Book of 2010

I was talking to my friend Courtney a few days ago & she casually mentioned her candidates for the last book she would read in 2010.  She originally wanted to take on The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro, but then considered Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler.  (She went with neither.)  I was intrigued.  I’d never really given much thought to my first & last book of the year.

My reading habits are like a tide; they follow the flow of my thoughts associated to whatever I’m reading.  I went from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest to Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates because of the focus on the Massachusetts area.  I was trying to further parse Wallace’s use of “the city on the hill” metaphor by reading about Puritan history.

(Of course, Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There was nestled in between the two like palate-cleansing slices of orange.)

So, I thought about what book I would want to help me end 2010.  I had just finished my review copy of Kenneth Slawenski’s J. D. Salinger: A Life & was unsatisfied.  I also finished House of Prayer No. 2 by Mark Richard.  A good solid read to end with but the book junkie in me urged: C’mon, one more, just one more, you know you wanna.

So, drumroll please, the last book I’ll read in 2010 will be Tolstoy’s The Forged Coupon.  (A gift from my dear friend no less!)  It’s short enough that I can finish it in the next few days, plus I’m hoping to get back to the Russians during the winter months.

Also, with all of this talk of reading during the year, I would like to mention that I love GoodReads’ new stats function.  (Under “Tools” as you scroll down any screen in your account.)  You can break down your books by how many read per year.  A few personal tidbits:

  • I’ve read 34 books this year (35 if I finish the Tolstoy) totaling 11469 pages.  Down from 2009’s 60 books at 19943 pages.  (It was the year of the Russians, what can I say?)
  • The first book I finished this year was Forster’s A Passage to India.
  • The longest book I read this year was Infinite Jest at 1079 pages.  (Yeah, don’t I know it.)  The next longest was American Gods at 588 pages.  (Still haven’t finished The Web and the Rock.)
  • The shortest book was Dashiell Hammett’s Woman in the Dark at 96 pages.
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