So it was a bit ambitious of me to offer to do 3 posts for Shannon before the end of the year. Especially since the first one—this one—was meant to be a recap of my #50BookPledge. A month ago I wasn’t even sure I was going to reach 50. Back in January I blogged that the 50BookPledge wasn’t meant to apply pressure to readers, that the idea was to encourage people to read for enjoyment NOT to make reading a sport, but as August moved into September and I was “stuck” in the 30s I felt it.
Summer had been busy, with lots of traveling, a vacation, friends and family in town. My TBR pile grew around me and the promise of dozens (hundreds?) of great Fall books excited me. I didn’t feel pressure to meet a numeric goal I just missed reading.
So what changed? Well, I started traveling more. Lots of time on planes and in hotel rooms meant lots of hours to immerse myself. What’s more, I was traveling for work, criss-crossing the country talking to eager booksellers about the books HarperCollinsCanada would be selling this Fall. And something strange happened, while I was out there trying my best to get them excited for our books, they got me excited for all books. Tricky tricky. Throw in all the new people I was meeting on Twitter and everywhere I turned someone I trusted was recommending a book. My TBR pile was still growing faster than I could keep up with but my “Has Read” list on GoodReads grew too.
Two months later and I’m done. Now I’ve got my sights set on 60 for the year. Here’s a by-the-numbers breakdown of my #50BookPledge
1 – Audio Book
Despite what @meghanpaton says, these count! I “read” Good to Great, the original bestseller by Jim Collins and loved it. So much so that I went out and got Great by Choice—the printed version—right away. Though now I’m wishing I got the audio version for my 16-hr Christmas drive home…
3 – Books About or Featuring Superman
If you ever see my office, I have a Superman bobblehead, a Superman lunch box and (it was a gift, I swear) a Superman blow-up doll. My favourite Superman book of 2011? Is actually one from 1978: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. Yeah, it happened.
4 – Books About Sports
The best one? West by West by Jerry West, the inspiration behind the NBA logo.
5 – Ebooks
I still love a physical book but this year I was given a massive tome on the history of Christianity. It’s 1,200 pages and there’s no way it was going to be my “subway read.” So I downloaded the ebook. Loved it. If you’re interested in this kind of history, check it out.
Also, look at the size of it! That’s it beside a couple of the other books I read this year. Shouldn’t I get extra credit?
6 – YA Books
I always claim that I don’t read too many but this was a great year for YA, wasn’t it? This is where I turned when I really wanted to enjoy myself and—get ready for a cliché—get lost in another world. A few highlights:
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was really different. I got hooked by this great trailer and absolutely loved the story. I hope there’s a sequel.
Wildwood. Everyone compared this to Narnia and I get that. It feels like it was written in the 40s or 50s and there are talking animals but something about it had a very Wizard of Oz feel to me.
This Dark Endeavour. If you follow me on Twitter you’re sick of hearing me rave about this book but I’m not going to stop. It’s amazing and I cannot wait for Book 2 next year!
Divergent. I incurred a lot of wrath on Twitter this month when I declared what I truly felt about The Hunger Games. Sorry fans, Divergent was way better.
16 – Non-Fiction
A few biography, the aforementioned sports but a lot of business books. Highlights?
The Jimmy Stewart bio by Marc Eliot really gave me a new appreciation for one of my all-time favourite actors (and launched me on an old movie binge). West by West by the great Jerry West and The Whore of Akron about the not-so-great LeBron James really quenched my thirst for NBA basketball…for a weekend.
Also loved The War for Late Night exploring the Leno/Conan debacle, ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun and Little Princes by Conor Grennan. The latter was made all the better by having the chance to spend some time with the author and realizing that his quest to help the children of Nepal truly was something that we all need to be more supportive of—including our governments.
21 – Fiction
I have to say I’m a little surprised that my Fiction to Non-Fiction ratio ended up so balanced. I would have guessed, in January, that I’d end up reading far more Fiction. I guess that’s a win for true stories.
My fiction highlights of 2011 are really too many to properly review. I read a lot of authors this year I’d never read before but absolutely will again. I think the truest measure of a book you love is one that you want on your shelf, one that you’d give as a gift but still want to own. So, in that category for me:
The Beggar’s Garden by Michael Christie – Truly spectacular book of short stories by a young writer who has an amazing career ahead of him
Dead Simple by Peter James – Kept me flipping pages furiously. One of those books that got me through a long flight in (seemingly) minutes.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt – No wonder it’s winning every award there is.
Conqueror by Conn Iggulden – The final book in one of my favourite series did not disappoint. In fact, I think it may have been one of Iggulden’s best ever (and THAT is saying something).
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – A lot of hype and very well deserved.
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson – Never have I loathed two characters more than I did the obnoxious, artsy-fartsy parents in this book. And that made it all the more enjoyable. Fantastic read!
That’s it. It was a great year and I still have a month to go. I’m already thinking about what I’ll read in my #50BookPledge next year. Any suggestions?
Though please think carefully, 2012 has a lot to live up to!
Follow me on Twitter @corybeatty