I wrote the first post for Murder Underground Broke the Camel’s Back on 15 March 2015.
The original idea and plan for the blog was to give focus and structure to my attempt to read the house dry, and to provide an incentive to keep to my self-imposed book buying ban.
Reflecting back on a year of reading, and a year of writing about reading, it has become much more than this to me. It is a celebration of one of the most enriching parts of my life. An exploration of the many ways that the books I read impact on the life I live. In just one year, I have reduced the amount of meat I eat; I have given to different charities; I have survived a mini mid-life crisis; I have lost some of my greatest heroes, but reflected on and reaffirmed the best of what they taught me; I have laughed my head off, and cried several rivers. All as a result, direct or indirect, of reading these books.
I have read 26 books this year. I know I have a week to go, but I’m reading a beast at the moment, My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk. And I suspect it will take more than another week to finish.
I have read 10 books by men, and 16 by women. I have read 13 books by English writers, eight by American, and only one each of American/ Afghani, Japanese and Irish. Must try harder with writers from different countries. Although, of course, I can’t try harder because I should just be reading what is on the shelves. I don’t know if I have happened to pick a particularly narrow set of nationalities to read this year, or whether that is the nature of my whole collection. We’ll see. (And I do have some book tokens to spend!)
And… have I kept to the vow? Well, the answer to that is of course is a big resounding no.
Although I have only weakened three times, and bought a total of six books this year, I have been sent, lent and inherited many more than that. I inherited 26 books from the friend of our neighbours. And a similar number from my grandparents. My husband has bought me four books. And it turns out that even were that not the case, through the blog I start conversations with people on social media, at work, all over the place – about reading, and people then give me more books to read. So, by virtue of setting up a blog to document my attempt to read the house dry, I have made the task impossible.
Seven of the books I have read this year have been lent to me. Only 19 were from the shelves. And a conservative estimate puts the number of books I have acquired over the course of the year at 62. Which means at this rate, I am increasing the number of books waiting to be read by 43 a year!
Although, let’s optimistically assume that people won’t continue to die and leave me books next year – and that I will instead acquire just the 10. And if I continue to read 19 of the backlog annually, then I reduce the number by a still not terribly impressive nine a year.
Assuming I started with 100 (very conservative) to read, and have now increased this to 143 – I am only looking at another 16 years before my task is complete. By which time I will be 54 years old. I’ll start planning a massive blow out to Hay-on-Wye for my 54th birthday now…
Ah well, it’s been a lot of fun. Thank you for reading, thank you for liking and commenting, and I hope you stick with me for the next 16 years!