It’s hard to keep anything up for ten years, especially when those ten years span a period as full of change as between the ages of eleven and twenty-one. And yet, as of today, I have been keeping my Book List for exactly ten years.
Some who know me will know exactly what this is, but I will elaborate for those of you who are baffled. On the 15th October 2007 I started to read The Tulip Touch by Anne Fine, which I finished two days later on the 17th. I know this because I wrote it down. I then proceeded to write down the next book I read, and the next and so on for ten years and two-hundred-and-thirty-nine books. That averages at nearly twenty-four books a year, a figure of which I’m fairly proud, even if I don’t read as much as I’d like to anymore. I would, however, hasten to add that I did not count audiobooks until November 2015, and I know I listened to a lot of those; I can think of at least ten just off the top of my head! I’ve included a breakdown at the bottom of how many books I finished during each year for anyone interested.
Now, I’m not the same person I was one year ago let alone ten, so this collection of what fiction I have consumed over that time span is a fascinating insight. I’m amazed to see that I read John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas almost ten years ago (January and February 2008). The way that book has stuck with me, it feels more like two. Conversely, my days of reading Anne Fine’s Goggle Eyes feels like longer ago than October 2007.
Over the years I have gone through phases of reading several series by Sophie McKenzie (whom I even got to meet), Julia Golding’s Cat Royal books, Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series (I also got to meet her!), Julie Hearn’s everything, Louise Rennisson’s Georgia Nicolson series, the now-infamous Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer, The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch (of course that’s his real name), Neil Gaiman, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (though not until I’d listened to the first two series of the radio show, of course) by the unbeatable Douglas Adams, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and others, Euripides, Ray Bradbury, Terry Brooks, and Jane Austen. And this is just a handful of authors who feature on my list more than once.
Some things never change, though. Terry Pratchett is by far the author I’ve read the most, and over the longest span of time. Book three on my list is Wintersmith (23rd October to 17th November 2007), a novel which I have now read three times, the last of which was a mere two years ago. I’ve finished two of his books in the past month alone. The total number of Terry Pratchett books I have read in the past ten years comes in at twenty-two. This is not including the five re-reads, nor indeed the five books of his that I read before the ten years even started. The incredible thing is that I’ve barely even broken the surface of his vast repertoire, with him having written well over sixty books, leaving me plenty more to read in the next ten years. Failing that, there’s always Wintersmith.
My reading habits are another insight offered by the Book List, not that they are at all consistent. I’ve read things in one sitting, most recently John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down (across the midnight barrier, so I have counted it as two separate dates). Conversely, it took me eight months to get through Dune by Frank Herbert. The longest I’ve taken to read a novel was for Terry Brooks’ The Black Unicorn, which I started on 5th September 2015 and finished on 8th September 2016. If I remember correctly I read it for a couple of weeks, stopped halfway through, picked it up again almost a year later and finished it in a few days. Even longer than this was Arthur Conan Doyle’s book of short stories The Return of Sherlock Holmes, which I started on 11th April 2014 and finished 10th September 2016, though I only had one or two stories left when I finally picked it back up after an absence of more than two years.
Does anyone remember those little blue books from primary school where you would write in what you were reading and how many pages you’d got through and the teacher would write encouraging comments and recommend the next book to read? Well, that’s what inspired this Book List all those years ago. I still have a couple of those blue books somewhere at my parents’ house, and I believe they hold some reading habits from before 15th October 2007. I know I began this venture in a notebook that was already full of stuff and so it continued onto some lined A4 and then eventually I copied it all out into its very own notebook, which is the one you see today. I’ve also typed the bulk of it out, for fear of something happening to the physical copy, but that one only gets updated every so often and is really only a back-up, a mere shadow of the real thing.
I have no plans of stopping this strange practice. I really enjoy looking over it sometimes just to see what I was reading at particular times, or when it was I enjoyed a particular book. I might see a picture of me reading on holiday in 2010 and I can find exactly what was held in those pages from a quick peruse of my list. It also shames me into reading more. I am shocked to see that I have only finished eleven books so far in 2017 and so I am going to ensure that I improve that number before the year is up!
Life is full of busy things. I have two performances for two different singing groups happening before the end of the month, I have a dissertation to do and other courses to study for, TV shows to watch and songs to write but I will always make time for books, and my Book List shows that I always have.
2007* (from 15th October) – 3
2008* – 24
2009* – 19
2010* – 33
2011* – 26
2012* – 34
2013* – 18
2014* – 13 (what can I say? A Levels and starting university are time-consuming.)
2015 – 34
2016 – 25
2017 (up to 15th October) – 11
* not including audiobooks