Library Thing June  2017

I've always been a voracious reader. When I was growing up my family moved a lot; every 2 or 3 years it would be a different city in a different country, a different culture and sometimes even a different language. By the age of 16 I had lived in hotels for over a year of my life. As a result much of my childhood was spent in the company of books which I was able to read in English, Spanish or French.

These days my reading is 94% in English with only 27 books in French and 12 in Spanish on my list. (See Language of the Book in Stats/Memes.  Books listed as written in other languages were actually just facing page translations.) The next section, Original Language, shows 511 English, 31 Japanese, 21 French, 9 Spanish, 8 Icelandic, 8 Swedish etc. The list is incomplete - my total adds up to only 650 books - but their proportions of are probably accurate.

The last 2 languages reflect a recent taste for Scandinavian crime. The 31 Japanese books (along with half a dozen books on the history, art and culture of Japan), is the result of an intense curiosity starting in 2013. I tend to hunger for knowledge on a certain subject and then binge. The following year I consumed 10 books on the history, literature and cuisine of Byzantium. I highly recommend John Julius Norwich's 3 volumes as the only way to wrap your head around the history of that hybrid empire which survived the fall of Rome by over 1000 years. In Japanese literature my recommendations would be Osamu Dazai (Patty Smith visited his grave in Tokyo) and the noirish fiction of Natsuo Kirino.

You may notice there aren't many Great Books here. I read most of them earlier in life: in college where I concentrated on the Greek and Latin classics or in graduate school where I specialized in Medieval studies. Before I started this list I had binged on the 19th Century: women named Bronte, women named George, a man named George Gissing, memoirs, guide books, histories and popular literature of the Victorian Age.

I've realized that I will never read all the books I want to. Even several lifetimes wouldn't suffice so I'm not rereading any books. I'm trying to fill in the gaps now. I show 21 books here on the history, philosophy, etc of 17th and 18th  Century. For some reason the Renaissance hasn't interested me much.

On the different Tags:
Fiction In fact I've read 336 works of fiction (Fiction + Mystery + Fantasy and Science Fiction + plays under Drama), 282 works of non-fiction and 132 books of poetry.
Poetry. Most of these I didn't read cover to cover, certainly not the Complete Works of .... My strategy has been to read the last 30 or 40 pages. If I wasn't completely turned off, I'd read the first 20 pages. Then I'd read some of the middle poems - or all of them or none, depending.
History: About half is modern history, since 1776.
Drama encompasses theater, cinema and television, scripts and critical works, everything from Shakespeare to Green Acres.
Anthropology includes all the Social Sciences books that don't fit into the other categories.
Arts is mostly painting, with 4 books on Vermeer. Music is about 1/3 Classical, 1/3 Jazz, 1/3 Rock. Sports is mostly baseball. Religion is half Buddhism, half Christianity.

I started counting in 2003 so for the last 14 years I've averaged 54 books a year with a low of 24 books in 2011 to a high of 100 in 2013. At that rate I figure I've read 3510 books since 1952 when I was 12 years old. That's hardly enough books to stock a small bookstore, let alone a decent library. I would say 4000 books is a satisfactory amount which, at the rate I'm going, will take me to the age of 86 if I last that long.

By then I should have digested every period in history and every culture on earth. Now I have something to look forward to.

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