Reading Year in Review, 2010

I read 54 books in 2010. On paper this beats my dad’s 48, and also beats the 1-book-per-week pace, but I don’t know how credible those marks are given that several of my books were graphic novels (Owly, Transmetropolitan, Powers, Stitches) or cookbooks (Japanese Cooking, Zuni Cafe, Homemade Liqueurs). Goodreads says I read a total of 15,717 pages, but I’m not totally careful to always put the exact edition I read (and in two cases Goodreads claimed that a book I read had 0 pages), so that’s kind of a ballpark.

My mean rating for books was 3.2 stars (compared to Goodreads’ average of 3.78 for the same books). My modal rating was 4 stars, which I gave to 22 books. I didn’t give any books 1 star (I think I am a good enough judge of my own taste to avoid that) and I only gave 5 stars to three books:

  • Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams
  • Truthfulness and Tragedy by Stanley Hauerwas
  • Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji

Although I didn’t give five stars to any fiction that I read in 2010, some of my favorite works of fiction were:

  • Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • Old School by Tobias Wolff
  • Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann

I read more than one book by a few authors:

  • Haruki Murakami
  • Nel Noddings
  • Andy Runton (Owly series)
  • Roald Dahl
  • Brian Bendis/Michael Oeming (Powers series)

My only “big project” book was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I am no fan, but I’m glad I read it.

I read relatively few “new” books. The only book published in 2010 that I read was A Call For Judgment by Amar Bhide. I also read 5 books published in 2009; perhaps those count.

I also read relatively few books in translation–four, to be precise. Three were from Japanese (Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, The Elephant Vanishes, and The Narrow Road to the Interior), and one from German (Doctor Faustus).

Only about ten of the books I read were written by women (depending on how you count co-authorship).

I was surprised to see how little fiction was on the list. Probably around 10 of them could really be considered “novels”, again depending on the narrowness of the definition. It’s also notable, though, that many of these were among my favorite books of the year. Perhaps there is a selection effect at work here.

I was also interested to see the breakdown of how I acquired the books that I read:

  • Borrowed from friends/family: 31
  • Borrowed from the library: 11
  • Received as a gift: 8
  • Bought for myself: 2
  • Other: 2

Of the two that I bought for myself, one (The Merlion and the Hibiscus) was a sort of souvenir on my vacation to Singapore and Malaysia, and the other (Policy Paradox) was a textbook for class. The two I labeled “Other” were An Oasis of Order (e-book, free online) and Administrative Behavior (free discard from FRBNY research library–also notable that this book literally fell apart as I read it, and I threw the pages in the recycling when I was done).

So thanks to all of those friends who lent or gave me these wonderful books, and to the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and NYU-New School libraries. I couldn’t have done it without you!