Thursday, January 17, 2008

A slow start

I haven't gotten very far yet this year, but I got off to a slow start last year, so I don't think the goal is in jeopardy yet. In fact, even though I have only finished 2 books so far this year, I think I will end January with more than the 4 I had last January, so I should be a bit ahead. I have about three books going now, and I have been reading a lot faster in the past week or so than I did in the first week or so.

I find it interesting that my reading seems to be changing now that I am keeping track. I have been consciously searching out some more good science fiction since I started the list, so I am not surprised to see that I am reading more of that. But, some of my more guilty pleasures (J.D. Robb books, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series) have fallen off. I don't think it is because I don't want to write them on the list--I don't really care if anyone approves of my choices. I think I have just found it easier to get good suggestions for books I want to read more than that kind of brain candy. I have a long list of higher quality books fighting for a spot on my tbr list, so this kind of thing gets pushed down to the bottom. Maybe this is cyclical, too, though, and I will get back to them in a few months or so.

I am so loving this long term list of books I am reading. I am totally geeking out on the thought of more data to analyze as time goes on. There is no hope for me.

1. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Good but not great. Sad. A bit overwrought in the middle, but enjoyable. Not Atwood's best.

2. Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James

Great. Good development of recurring characters, without taking a lot of time away from the main focus of the book--the mystery. The story was compelling, although it was a bit odd how sympathetic everyone was to the pedophile priest. I thought it was odd that they equated the murder victim's dislike of the pedophilia (although it may have been more accurately pederasty, which involves post-pubescent children, which, while still being totally wrong, is not quite as repellent) with prejudice against gay people. Being gay and molesting children are two entirely different things, regardless of the gender of the children abused. But, the rest of the story was very interesting, and the conclusion was satisfying.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I got new bookshelves this weekend!

And, they are gorgeous. I'd put a link here, but Costco doesn't seem to have them on their website, which is a shame. So, I will have to make do with describing them, at least until I unpack enough boxes to come across the software and cords to download pictures from my digital camera.

The shelves are double wide, about 48 inches, and made out of dark wood. There are six shelves on each side of the middle divider, with the top two shelves having glass inserts. There are lights in the top molding that shine down through the glass, and there is a touch pad to turn the lights on and off. It's a lot of shelf space, and I am sure I am FINALLY going to be able to get all of my books on shelves, rather that stacked on top or or in front of other books. For a while at least.

The most fun part of all of this is that I finally get to organize all of my books. When I first moved into this apartment and got my new shelves up, I wanted to get everything in some sort of order, grouped by genre and author. But I was moving and I was in a hurry to reuse the boxes in which I had carried the books to the new place, so I just grabbed books and put them on shelves. It has bothered me that my books were all jumbled ever since, but I was putting off rearranging, in the hopes that I could channel that organizing energy toward unpacking the mound of boxes and making our home look presentable. Now that I have new shelves, though, I HAVE to move all the books around! After all, I do have to put some of the books on the new shelves. I suppose, in theory, I could have just grabbed all the books that were on top of or in front of other books and put them on the new shelves, but I could not restrain myself any longer. My books were crying out for some order, and I could not ignore them.

This is so much fun! I am putting non-fiction on my new shelves. I don't have enough non-fiction to fill them, but that is good, I have room to grow. I have been picking up big armfuls of books and moving them from room to room. Science fiction is going on the shelves next to the reading chair. Mysteries will be in the other set of shelves in the front room. I have two shelves in the family room that will be devoted to unread books. Or, maybe not. Maybe I will just put all unread books in their categories, but put them over to the right, or something like that. Actually, that sounds like a good idea, both because it will be more organized, and because I am afraid all of my unread books won't fit on two shelves. I think I will have to try it both ways, and see which one is better.

All of this empty space is great, too. My shelves were getting seriously crowded, and I was wondering where I would put new books. Not that I need to buy any, with all my unread books, but let's be realistic; I am going to buy new books. I bought 5 new books tonight*, and I haven't even finished my first book of the year yet. I love having the books around, and I will read at least some of them. Some day when I have more time to read, I will get through my whole tbr list, a thought which actually fills me with a bit of anxiety. Fortunately, I am kidding myself--there will always be more books to buy!

Oh, and I saw that the shelves that I bought at World Market are on sale! I don't actually need more shelves right now, but I do want to get another set of these eventually. This is such a good price, I think maybe I should go ahead and get them now, but I am not sure I want to. For one thing, I don't know if I have the energy to carry the shelves up to my third floor apartment. I can't carry the whole box up, even with a friend helping, so it means multiple trips up the stairs with pieces of the unit. Then, I have to put it together, which is not undoable, but it is time-consuming. And, I would need to clean some stuff out of my bedroom, where I want to put the shelves. That's not the end of the world, but it is one more thing to do. I like to do some relaxing on my weekends. Still, I am thinking about it. I need an excuse to buy more books. Don't I?

*Mandy, again, although I have to admit, the bookstore was my idea. She wanted to go clothes shopping, but I figured the bookstore was less likely to make me feel fat.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Year End Statistics

I hit 93 total books in 2007, 10 more than 2008. I am a little bit surprised at how much reading I got in, because it was a busy year. I moved to a new apartment, which was very time-consuming. I made a big push to de-clutter my apartment and start doing the regular cleaning maintenance more regularly. Although, it seems like I spend more time cleaning these days, because I do some every day rather than waiting for the weekend, but I never spend 3 or 4 hours in a row cleaning anymore, so that may actually have been a net gain in time. I have had a very active social life, because I was starting to get worried that I did too much by myself. My job has been very busy, with some overtime, although not a lot. And, I started my third blog in 2007, and did more blog posting in general. This is not even getting into all the time I spend on Library Thing.

Even so, I got in more reading than ever. Part of that is all the time I spend at Library Thing, which seems counterintuitive, but makes sense when I think about it. First of all, posting about what I read makes me think a bit more about what I read, which actually makes me enjoy my books more. Also, all the great recommendations make me anxious to get through my reading list and get to even more great books! So, I am going to increase my goal for 2008 to 100 books, but first, a look at 2007 through statistics.

Total number of books: 93
January: 4
February: 4
March: 7
April: 5
May: 9
June: 7
July: 10
August: 11
September: 9
October: 10
November: 7
December: 10
Total number of pages: 33,276
Average number of pages per book: 361.70
Science Fiction books: 39, or 41.94%
Non-fiction books: 15, or 16.13%
Mystery books: 21, or 22.58%
Re-reads: 7, or 7.53%

Since I read a lot more toward the end of the year than I did at the beginning, I think I can easily add in the 7 books I didn’t have to make up the 100 in 2007. I am glad to see I got in quite a bit of science fiction this year, although that is partly fantasy, actually. That is only a few books, though, because I am not a big fantasy fan. I found a good list of science fiction classics this year, and I have been trying to work my way through that. I am going to try to get a little bit more non-fiction books read in 2008, I think.

Overall, this looks like a pretty good year’s reading to me. Now, I just need to get my first book for this year completed!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Finishing up a series

92. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
93. The Last Colony by John Scalzi

I got The Last Colony from the Science Fiction Book Club (before their TERRIBLE customer service forced me to leave, which is a shame, because I liked the books), only to realize it was the third book in a series, forcing me to buy Old Man's War and TGB before I could read it. I am sure I could have read it alone and liked it, but I prefer to read books in order. I am really glad I got all three books, especially these two. I really like the way that Scalzi sets up a situation that seems rather straightforward and then shades the gray in there. The characters are well-drawn, too, and I like the way he handles his male and female characters, making them whole people who sometimes behave in stereotypically gendered ways, but generally just behave like themselves, not a man or a woman primarily, but a person. And, although I liked the characters a lot and I wonder what happens next, I was glad to see him say he is done with them. It is good to leave on a high note, not drag things out until people get tired of reading about your characters and your world.

So, that is 10 more than I read last year (or, rather, in 2006, since I am behind here). Much more than I thought I would read this year!