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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Decade Of Reading - 2010

Boxing Day night, and the Gods visited upon me a great plague. (Well, more of a nasty cold, but it felt like plague). While not wholly debilitating, it was certainly enough of an excuse to wile away a few days before New Year sitting in a comfortable chair and getting round to a few of the unread books lying about the house.

At some point during this content, languid period, a thought burrowed its way to the fore of my brain and started niggling, determined to receive some attention. The thought – apt in its timing, given the introspection to which many of us are prone on the cusp of a new calendar year – went something like this:

“Wouldn’t it be fascinating to keep a record of the books you read over the course of a year? That way, you could then look back and see whether, say, 2010 was better than 2008. Albeit in a purely literary sense, of course.”

2008, incidentally, was the year in which I read the bulk of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. It influenced me a great deal at the time, and continues to do so now – I have fond memories of reading some of the books in various places, not least the fifth one, which accompanied me halfway round the world to Japan. The thought had won me over, and I lavished it with the consideration it craved.

So I set about compiling a list of the books I’d read during 2010, utilising my library lending history, going over e-mails with friends where we’d discussed books, and checking bookcases for anything that might have escaped my attention.

The end result was a 19-strong list, dominated by Stephen King. Initially, I was unimpressed, having expected (without good reason, it should be said) a longer roll of honour. But considering that a good two months went by without picking up a book (from about mid-February, while I moved house), and accounting for some of what did get read being proper doorstoppers, I was reasonably satisfied:

(NF) indicates non-fiction

- Everything’s Eventual, Stephen King
- From A Buick 8, Stephen King
- Under The Dome, Stephen King
- Insomnia, Stephen King
- Eleven, Mark Watson
- Desperation, Stephen King
- (NF) Eleven Minutes Late, Matthew Engel
- The Godfather, Mario Puzo
- Kafka On The Shore, Haruki Murakami
- (NF) It’s Only A Movie, Mark Kermode
- (NF) Lonely Planet Guide To Travel Writing
- (NF) Made In America, Bill Bryson
- Blaze, Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
- The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Stephen King
- (NF) JA on F1 2010, James Allen
- The Unnamed, Joshua Ferris
- (NF) A Week At The Airport, Alain de Botton
- The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami
- (NF) Awkward Situations For Men, Danny Wallace                    

Still though, the exercise felt a little underwhelming. And with the rather tidy coincidence of 2010 being the first year of a new decade, so The Decade of Reading was born – an attempt to chronicle ten years worth of books. ‘Attempt’ makes it sound more difficult than it is; no one keeps lists better than I do, so it’s hardly a challenge. And it’s not like there’s an aim to it all – no quest to become better read, or to ensure every book is by a different author.

Just ten lists of books, an alarming number of which will probably end up being by Stephen King. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to ponder what I might be reading in 2019. Wonder if I’ll have a Kindle by then … ?

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