The end of the year is fast approaching, faster than I had anticipated, at least. I am officially terrible at planning for the holidays. I say to myself, "I have plenty of time" and then BAM PRESTO it's Christmas Eve and I still have shopping and wrapping to do. The same kind of thing happens to me and all the books I wanted to read. I am friends with a lot of compulsive readers. These people stay up till all hours of the night, spend their free time, and even take a book with them to lunch. I admire their resolve, their stamina, and their concentration. These people push through eighty, ninety, a hundred books (and often much more) every year. And every year, I make a mad dash in December to try and catch up. And yet here I am with a grand total of 30. And I swear half of them were kids' books.
Now, I could dwell on the sad lack these numbers seem to have when compared to those of others. Or, at this, the Eve of Christmas, I could make a list of the things I have been thankful for because of reading the books I did. Since I'm kind of a, "Oh look! There's liquid in that glass! How great!" person, I think I'll do that.
1. I read several "classics" this year, which I haven't voluntarily done in such numbers for a few years (Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, A Little Princess, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. . .hey, they are all classics in their own way).
2. I read several academic books (and started several more).
3. The academic books I read were more varied than normal (i.e. not just Indian history but a history of sexuality and a book on early West African civilizations and Chicagoan serial killers).
4. I got to read a NEW book by a DEAD author -- Michael Crichton. Yes, I got ridiculously excited about it.
5. I discovered biography.
6. I actually read some novels.
The question then remains: what next? As our Buddhist friends quietly remind us, the journey is what really matters, not the destination. The point of this isn't the number of books I read, it's the experiences enjoyed and the increased richness of my life because I read at all. Not every book is a winner, and I got through the books I enjoyed the most. I picked up new books willy-nilly because that's how I like to read -- tripping from one topic to another. I cannot stop thinking, and I never want to stop learning. This next week (and the weeks after), I am reading a novel about a woman who pretended to be a man during the 1800s, a novel about Charles Dickens' wife, a biography about a man grappling with his son's autism, Emily Post's new edition of etiquette, a non-fiction book about firefighting, the love story of Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel, and soon enough a book about dinosaurs, because why not read about dinosaurs?
As the old year comes to a close, the infinitely more exciting new year opens, and so does my next book.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Yukon Ho!