On Reading

Just a few of my books.

Just a few of my books.

Confession: I’m one of those geeky-types that keeps a record of all the books I read in a year. It’s on an Excel spreadsheet, no less, and notes author, title, category, score out of 5 and a brief note on why it got that score:

Sad, mysterious and beautiful
Could have gone into much more depth and agonising. Left a few threads untied
Some good thoughts, but a bit patchy and not enough depth

There’s then a little side-bar keeping track of how many of the books were fiction, biographies, religious, non-fiction etc.

Some of my friends who do this actively, intentionally plan the proportion of books they intend to read in any given category and arrange their reading accordingly (yes, Liam Thatcher, I’m looking at you!). Thankfully, I’m not that geeky!

I just like to know, to check that I’m not reading entirely fiction, but that I’m paying attention to other genres, too.

I’ve also, for the last few years, counted audio books in my list. In some ways I feel as though that’s cheating, but I’ve listened to things I’d never get round to reading, and although it’s not the same as owning the book, highlighting it, writing notes in the margin, passing it on to friends, etc, it is still a way of absorbing the words into my brain.

Looking back over lists from the past few years, it’s shocking how few of the books I actually remember reading. In some ways I’m proud of the 77 books I read in 2008 – the year I had an hour-long commute each way – but when I realise that I can’t actually recall even the basic plot lines of a good proportion of those books, I realise that perhaps 44 savoured books are of greater value than 77 gobbled ones.

So for this year I’m not making quotas or forcing myself to pick up something of a different genre regardless of its appeal, but I am going to try to read the books I do select more intentionally, taking them in rather than galloping through them. And I’m going to start reviewing them here, in the hopes that writing about them will help me remember them better!

I reviewed one recent read on my other blog the other day, but I’m also planning to merge the two blogs (with an exciting new name!) as soon as my brother has finished writing his book and can help me, so I might as well just start posting all content here, really!

Look out for a couple of reviews coming soon – and let me know any highlights of your reading year: what do you recommend I read next (or what should I avoid at all costs?!).

2 Comments On This Topic
  1. michaelkbaldwin
    on Jan 6th at 1:38 pm

    Just stumbled upon your blog from Think Theology website and would love to know some of your favourites books from your records that you *do* remember the outlines or main points of!

    • Jennie Pollock
      on Jan 7th at 10:45 am

      Ooh, that’s a great question. Here are a few of my top picks – some I have read more than once, which helps with the recall, but I think I remembered them well enough after the first reading:
      Miss Pettigrew lives for a day
      If nobody speaks of remarkable things
      We Need to talk about Kevin
      Bel Canto
      Voyage to Venus (CS Lewis)
      The Snow Child
      We are all Completely Beside Ourselves
      The Rosie Project
      Justice (Michael Sandel)
      Leadership (Rudy Giuliani)
      Stiff:The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
      On Writing (Stephen King)
      The Undertaking (Thomas Lynch)
      The Dust Diaries (Owen Sheers – in fact, everything by him!)
      Which Lie did I Tell? (William Goldman)

      The Mitford Girls
      Call the Midwife
      The Great Divorce
      The Practice of the Presence of God
      The Celebration of Discipline (Richard Foster)
      I think that’s probably enough to keep you going – I’m just working on a post about 2016’s reading – look out for it on Monday!


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