Friday, August 29, 2008

How Many Books *Have* I Read? (edited)

Do you ever wonder how many books you have actually read over your lifetime? Especially if you are a Reader with a capital "R"... I have found myself wondering this lately. Generally I have a pretty good memory for what I've read, but since I don't keep lists of books (either that I want to read, or that I have read -- this blog being a recent exception, which will hopefully keep track of the latter), once I read them, I have no record of it except what's in my mind.

Not that that's a bad thing. But out of curiosity, I've recently pondered the idea of backtracking and trying to gather up a list of most everything I've read. I would keep the list to actual bound books, excluding textbooks, including actual novels, etc., required for classes.

Of course I really doubt there is any way I could track down everything, especially what I read in middle school what with all the Sweet Valley Highs and such, but I think it would be interesting to just start the list and as I come across books that I remember reading, just adding them to the list. I don't think I would include small children's picture books because that's just silly. But starting with YA novels in middle school, say. Obviously this would be a long-term project. Um. Years.

How might I do this? An Excel spreadsheet? A simple list? I have no idea. I'm not very good at spreadsheety types of things. However, I think it would be fun and interesting and would also spark some pretty good re-reads, I bet.

A quick side note regarding classic young adult novels. While at the library recently I picked up an old version of a Nancy Drew book and a newer version. I hate when they update classic books for a "modern audience." Part of the fun of reading original editions of old books is wondering what certain words, trends, clothing items, etc. are. For instance: Nancy always drove a roadster. It took me quite a while to figure out what a roadster was. In the newer books, she seems to drive a convertible. Not nearly as charming! No need to run to the dictionary, I guess, which I feel is a shame.

I also read an article awhile ago about "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" -- a book that I must have read four or five times when I was a preteen. The article was debating the merits of updating the part about the menstrual belt contraption -- something I have, thankfully, never had to deal with. But it's such an integral part of the book -- a rite of passage, the soft pink belt. I understand wanting to make it more accessible for girls in the 2000s, but I wonder how many conversations between mothers and daughters are missed because the girls have no reason to ask their moms about this mysterious pink belt, and all the stuff that goes along with it. For one thing, it certainly made me thankful that I didn't have to deal with that! Yay, progress! Thank God for Always, right? For another, we lose cultural history when things like this are edited out. I don't agree with it at all. It's not a textbook, it's a novel.

Anyway. One of my summer rituals before I moved to California was to reread old favorites like my small collection of my mom's Nancy Drew books, a few favorite fairy tales, etc. I stopped doing it when I moved to CA and left all my old books at home, but maybe, as I start to craft this big list, I might have to spend some time in the YA section of the library, remembering. What I should do, if I'm really serious about this, is go to the Philomath library and see if they still have some of my old favorites there. I would recognize them. It's a tiny library, but very loved. (PS: I love that there is a big article about turkey damage on the City page. Hee.)

I think I will do this. Why not, right? Because I need another project.

(edited at 9:30 Friday night) So. I dug up an old Excel file I had started awhile ago and added more books to it. Then I got a comment (thank you!) reminding me about So I went over there and have been updating my section. It's very handy, but here's my fear -- what if that website goes away? Then what? All my records, gone. (I have this fear with my photos on Flickr, as well...) So, do I keep up with the Excel chart, or do I just print out a report from Goodreads every so often? What about the books that aren't up on Goodreads?

I have to think about this. I like the ease of Goodreads, but I want to be sure the list will last. Thoughts, anyone?

(edited at 10:55 pm) Oh. I just found out how to export the list from GoodReads to an excel file. Well. That solves that problem. OK then! Excellent. Sometimes the Internet is really cool.


Webster Twelb said...

I don't use'll take me forever to put my books, read and not read. Thinking of it already exhaust me. I actually track my books using goodreads. Although it's still incomplete..I can simply find the book ive read or have and put it in my profile. easier!

Daphne said...

That's a good idea...

stefanie said...

What fun! I've thought about reconstructing my reading before I began keeping track but I haven't managed it yet. What's your Goodreads user name so I can peek? Mine is wellred2. I haven't been on long and don't have many books listed.

Daphne said...

Mine is daphneann -- there's a link off to the right. I stayed up way too late last night adding stuff. Now I have to figure out how to organize it so it's a little more coherent!

Nymeth said...

That's a a really good idea. I kind of want to do the same. I've been keeping lists of what I read since 2004, and I can check my library records since 2001 those would help. I'm sure I've forgotten many books that I read as a child, though.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Your post with the updates added is really funny.

I love the idea of keeping a running list of read books. Even if you start now, and don't manage to cover a lot of the ground from when you were younger, you'll still have a fascinating look at your life history over time.