Friday, January 31, 2020

A Book List I've Maintained for 50 Years Now

Fifty years ago, about six weeks before I got married, I jotted down the title, author, and date-read of the book I had just finished. I tossed that piece of paper aside and didn't think about it again until I had finished another book. Then I decided to add that book to what was now officially a "list" of two titles. Well, I kept doing that until it became necessary to transfer the information to a little notebook if I wasn't going to lose it. And over the years, I continued to fill up notebooks and laboriously transfer the information to newer and larger notebooks. Luckily for me, I finally wised up and transferred the information to a notebook that would last me for a long time. The one pictured here is down to its last half-dozen pages now, but I've been using it since 1996, almost twenty-five years, and it holds all fifty years worth of reading.

I have also created an excel spreadsheet using the same data so that I can easily sort through all the books to see exactly which ones I've read and how long it has been since I read them. But I could never break the habit of maintaining a hard copy of the same information. And as of February 1, I have been doing this for fifty years, something that blows my mind. What was I thinking all those years ago when I jotted down that first title information? Certainly not that I would be sitting at something called a computer and writing a note to the world about what I had just done. And most certainly not that the list would stand at 3,490 titles some fifty years later. 

The world has changed drastically since February 1, 1970, and so have I and everyone I know. But the list goes on and on. Strangely enough, I find that to be rather comforting. Browsing the list brings back lots of memories as I try to remember what was going on in my life when I read specific titles. It still surprises me that the memories work in both directions: sometimes the book title by itself reminds me of a certain period in my life, and sometimes it's the date that brings back clear memories of reading the book.

Here are a couple of sample pages of what the list actually looks like:




10 comments:

  1. I kept a list before the actual blog too, though not as extensive as yours! After I started blogging I went back and wrote posts about some of the books from my handwritten list, to jog my own memory- only it was sad how little I remembered of some of them. I wish I'd made some kind of notes instead of just the author/titles.

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    1. I do wish I had made some notes on each of the books, Jeane, but then I probably would have ended up giving up on the whole thing at some point. It surprises me how just writing down the date next to the books read has helped me recall more about them than would have otherwise been the case. Lots of memory-triggering links going on.

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  2. 50 years worth of reading. Wow. That's amazing! I keep a list of the books I've read, too, but I've only been doing it for the last 5 years, or so. So it's not nearly as long as yours. :D

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    1. You'll be there before you know it, Lark. I know I was. LOL

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  3. I've been keeping notebooks for about 15 years. I really wish I'd been doing it for 50 years too, then I might know the titles of some of those 'lost' books that I'd like to read again but cannot remember the title or the author.

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    1. My excel spreadsheet is invaluable, Cath. It's kept me from re-buying a book or re-reading one I have around the house on numerous occasions. It's particularly useful, I find, when trying to keep up with my series reading.

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  4. Congratulations on keeping up with your list, Sam! It is quite a challenge to keep track of reading over a 50 year period!

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    1. I was shocked a few months ago when I realized this anniversary was coming up so soon, Jen. I'm especially surprised that I didn't lose this latest notebook somewhere in all the movies I made from country to country in the last three decades. It was always in-country with me, but somehow or another it survived.

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  5. I just love this so much!! I wish I had done this my whole life. I've read two on your pages - Night Lights and Rumpole of the Bailey. And maybe the Robert B. Parker - I was on quite a kick of his books for a while when he was still living. Is your wife a big reader, too??

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    1. My wife reads three or four books a month, on average, but she's not a list-keeper like I am. She's very casual about her reading and doesn't stress out about goals and such the way that I do. Sometimes I think she has the right idea. :-)

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