Can you believe that 2008 is almost over already? I suddenly realized today that we have exactly two weeks to go and that got me to thinking about how my reading might change in 2009, what I've read this year, what I've missed, and what I wish I had done differently.
It's looking like I'll read something in the neighborhood of 140 books this year, down a little bit from last year's almost 160, but 2007-2008, taken together, will mark the first time that I've ever even come close to reading 300 books in any two-year period in my life. Honestly, that's not a reading goal I've held out for myself and it hardly seems possible even now that I'm this close to achieving it (295 books read with 2 weeks yet to go, and six books already at various levels of completion).
But the best part is that, even after those thousands of pages, I'm just as enthusiastic and excited about starting my next book as I've ever been in my life. In fact, I started Dennis Lehane's 700-page blockbuster, The Given Day, last night and I had to force myself to put it down and get some much-needed sleep. I hope the book holds up to the early promise of its prologue, describing a wonderful incident in which the 24-year-old Babe Ruth stumbles upon a pickup baseball game in an empty field while waiting for the train on which he is riding to be repaired. He manages to join the game being played by two teams of black players and what happens is remarkable and telling. If this prologue has not been published as a standalone short story, it should be. It is that striking.
2008 has been another year during which I've either failed at, or avoided, the book challenges that seem to be so popular all over the book-blogging web. I tried the Russian Challenge and failed miserably at it, but I've had better luck with the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge, having read six of the required thirteen books with a little over six months to go (and I'm about to finish the seventh one). If I make it all the way to thirteen Canadian books, this will be the first challenge I've ever completed. Finally.
I'm working on a "Best of 2008" list similar to my "Top 15" from last year. I'm getting close but it's starting to look like I'll end up with a Top 20 that includes thirteen or fourteen novels and six or seven non-fiction titles. I'll probably break the list into two sections, ranking each type of book separately rather than choosing only one favorite book for the year.
My reading started pretty slowly this year because I ended 2007 in a bad reading slump and just couldn't get going in January when the calendar changed to the new year. I ended up re-reading a couple of old favorites and that finally got me going in what has turned out to be a fun year. I've really enjoyed discovering the work of new authors, getting to know a few of them, and reading the new work of a few authors I've been reading for decades.
And now Dennis Lehane has me all pumped up and ready to jump right into 2009 despite all the doom and gloom out there about the economy, crooked politicians, people who want to blow me up, and a 401-k that has become a 201-k and will force me to work several years longer than I had hoped to work.
Oh, well. I can still afford books so this old world is still a great place to be.