Brain D. Buckley wrote a post today where he talked about keeping a spreadsheet to record the books he reads. Pop on over and have a read.
No, really. I’ll wait.
He posed the question: Do you keep a list of what you read?
I typed out a response, and then realised that my comment was longer than his original post. Since that would no doubt be considered Really Bad Form <TM>, I figured I should post my thoughts on my own blog instead.
When I was 13, I read the most amazing book I’d ever come across. Now, I know that sounds a bit obvious – who’s read a lot of amazing books at 13, right? But I’d moved into adult fiction when I was about 11, and read an awful lot of spy thriller novels before moving on to fantasy, sci-fi, and the like. But when I was 13, I read THE book. The one that stands out in your head as the first truly awe-inspiring piece of prose that you can remember falling into.
It was a huge book, and I’d chosen it from the SF/F section of the library specifically because it was the biggest book there. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me question what it meant to be human. It touched some deep, hidden, part of my soul that I hadn’t even known existed. And when I got to the end of the book, I lay in bed and cried for over an hour. Not because it was a sad ending, but because the journey was over.
A year later, I wanted to re-read that book, but I had no idea what it was called. That was back in the “olden days” before the internet and all the whizz-bang gadgets that the kids have these days. I had no idea how to find out the name of the book, so I did the next best thing — I started keeping a list of every book I read, so I’d never have the same problem again.
For the next three years (ages 14, 15 and 16) I did exactly that. I read, on average, 120 books a year. (I didn’t include re-reads or books I read for school.) Then, when I was 17, we moved house and my carefully compiled lists got lost in the move.
You have no idea how pissed I was. I still am. I’d love to look back at those lists now and see what I was reading back then. (Other than a lot of David Eddings, Douglas Adams and Marion Zimmer Bradley, I mean. Those I remember.) And somehow losing those lists drained me of the enthusiasm to keep recording the books I was reading. Every year, I regret not doing it. You’d think that being older, I’d be wise enough to just do it.
Maybe I should go start a spreadsheet.
(Oh, and a couple of months ago I found out what the name of that book was that made such an impression: Swan Song by Robert McCammon. I’m 2/3 through re-reading it at the moment, and I’m pleased to say that it’s every bit as amazing and disturbing as I remember.)
Do you keep a record of the books you read? Do you think it’s a good idea or a waste of time?