I keep track of what I read, and I have since I was a teenager. When I finish a book—fiction or non-fiction—I write the title, author and the page count in a notebook. Last year, 2006, I read 52 books, 13,788 pages; the previous year 77 books, 21,578 pages; and two years ago 75 books, 21,790 pages.
These annual lists are a timeline of my life. A sort of journal that records, to me only, what I was doing, where I was, if I was happy, sad, angry or anything else. When I look through the lists I can remember reading the book—where I read it, what was happening in my life, and often even what the weather was doing.
In June 2004 I read the novel Solar Eclipse by John Farris. The book was terrific, but I was in a funk—my forward progression was stalled and I was depressed about it. I read most of this novel in transit on the city light rail. It was early summer, but it was already hot—the temps were in the nineties and all I wanted to do was read. And Solar Eclipse was the answer. It was pure escape. It took me into a world that allowed me to forget my problems several minutes at a time. Solar Eclipse kept me sane until I could gather the strength to make the right decisions and get on with it.
In December 2003 I read the novel V by A.C. Crispin—it was the companion novel to the early-Eighties miniseries. My girlfriend and I had just purchased a small place and we were genuinely happy. I can vividly remember sitting in bed, my back against the wall reading, the cold December air creeping through the thin walls and even thinner windows. The book wasn’t great, but the memory of reading it certainly is.
In April 2002 I only read one novel—very unusual for me, but I had just started a new job and it was taking my energy and then some. The novel I read was Dean Koontz’s The Voice of Night. My reading of the book stretched over weeks, but I was enamored by it. Every afternoon when I got home from work I would crack the book open and read a chapter—then take a brief nap before my girl came home for the evening.
My list of books reads like a time capsule. They, the books, are part of me: a measuring stick of who I am and where I have been. They are something I never want to forget, and my notebook of lists is where I store them.