in 2009- thanks to a rogue comment from dread pirate dougo about how 2008 looked "a little skimpy"- i included page numbers as well. as a testament to the fact that skimpy though the list may be, that was due to the reading of big books rather than a literary fall-off.
so we know that last year i read approximately 21,000+ pages. what we did not know at the time was what that meant. was it a lot or average or really not all that impressive?
turns out it was a hell of a lot impressive, because right now- with roughly 3 months left to the year- i'm sitting at 9,000 pages. a precipitous 12,000 page drop that is probably more than anything a testament to how hedonistic my life has lately been.
thanks to a recent 9-hour flight and the general fear that the numbers will show i've become an illiterate, i've hit the books with renewed fervor, something that has reinforced for me the fact that when you read a lot, things start to come together in strange ways.
my freshman year of college i had no friends. by which i don't mean i wasn't popular or had a terribly limited social circle, but that i had no friends at school. i did, however, have a credit card and a conveniently located book store, thus i picked up anything i could find and read indiscriminately.
the thing is, in retrospect, i don't think i'd give up that experience for friends because there has been no other point in my life when i've had the opportunity to read like that. most every book i'm always telling everyone else they should read if they want to be a fully-developed human being i read then. allan gurganus' plays well with others (!!!). the philosophy of andy warhol from a to b. stacy schiff's mrs. nabakov. it was the year i discovered nabakov himself along with alain de botton and alexandre dumas and hornby and eggers and sedaris.
in those 9 months, i read 92 books. many of them were definitive. with the exception of plays well with others (a book that will stand alone in the pantheon of awesome until the end of time)- all i really remember about any of them is that four of them had climactic scenes featuring fires. in my mind they have melded together into literary potluck. i do not remember the plot points, i do not remember the order in which they were read, but somehow- at the time- it made perfect sense. it was mildly harrowing and it was perfectly lovely.
because when you read a lot of things, they come together in unexpected and strange ways.
in the last month, this is what i've read:
a novel about a difficult marriage that ultimately works. a novel about one that doesn't. a book about families and grief. a memoir about grief after the death of a family.
unexpected. strange. and yet, it somehow makes perfect sense.