December Reading – the Month Ahead (aka “Crunch Time”)

Imagine my horror this past weekend when I reviewed my “Rainman Spreadsheet” (where I keep track of everything, which of course includes which books I have read and when I have read them) and discovered that I’ve only finished 42 books so far this year. Maybe ten or fifteen years ago this would have been ok, but in my “book blogging” era of the past several years it’s “entirely unacceptable” (and please imagine these two words as being said by Clint Eastwood in the film, Absolute Power).


I’ve been averaging (comfortably averaging) 50 books a year the past few years so why I am I about a month behind that pace? Laziness? busy-ness? Other interests? Too many short stories and not enough books? Which is it? Actually, it’s hidden answer number five – “all of the above.” BUT… I have a plan by which I can still get there. (For, you know, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail -right?)

So here’s what I will be attempting to read/finish this month:

1) Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Is should go pretty fast since its a re-read (and it’s not that long anyway). Two local book clubs are discussing it this month. The first one meets on 12/4.

2) Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
I’m already halfway through this one, which is technically my “current read.” About two hundred pages to go. I should wrap it up by this weekend.


3) Becoming Ray Bradbury by Jonathan Eller
A great biography, which I’m already two thirds of the way through with, but inexplicably put down many weeks ago and haven’t picked back up again yet.

4) Never Let and Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
A fairly short book that a friend recently read for her book club. She assures me that it’s a fairly easy read, and that I will enjoy it. I’m counting on her to be right.


5 & 6) Taran Wanderer and The High King by Lloyd Alexander
Earlier this year I started a re-read of this favorite five-book series from my youth but got distracted after just finishing the first three. These were YA books of my generation and will be pretty easy going too.


7) I Am No One You Know by Joyce Carol Oates
This will be kind of cheating since I only have a few stories to go in this collection, but I’ve been reading it now for three years (because I’m as savoring them, not because I don’t like them) and I haven’t counted it in prior years so – technically – fair game, yes?

8) Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead by Stephen Jones
More cheating, as this is a collection of ghost stories, and I’ve already read more than half of them, some this year, some last year.

That gets me to fifty. I also may read Melville’s novella, Benito Cereno in preparation for a discussion in January. It’s only about 150 pages but I will count it also – if I finish it in time. 🙂


What about you? Are you meeting your reading goals for the year? Or do you maybe not set specific goals? How do YOU keep yourself on track in your reading endeavors? What are you hurrying to finish up by year’s end?


  1. December 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    With the exception of Vonnegut, I haven’t read any of those, but they look very intriguing (so I’m sure you’ll read them in time). I do have various lists and notes that I use to attempt to keep me organized. Lately, I use the notebook feature in Springpad to keep track. I recommend it especially for when you are out and about. Before, I was always scribbling on random pieces of paper that got lost or forgotten.
    I’m currently reading an art book, which is a new kind of experience, to review soon. It’s about art and mathematics.


    • Jay said,

      December 4, 2013 at 8:40 am

      I’ve found Goodreads to be helpful in helping me to not forget a recommended book. Usually ill add it to my to read shelf, and if I don’t get to it within a few months will usually take it back off.

      I haven’t hear of Springpad, but will check it out. (Thanks for the recommendation) I have a couple apps specifically designed to track reading, but they seem to be high maintenance and too detailed (and that’s saying something if its too detailed for me – nerd alert!), and I’ve never really used them.

      I look forward to reading your spot about the art/math book.


      • December 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

        I like Goodreads, too. Springpad is easy (and this is coming from someone with run of the mill savvy for technology).

        The art/math book comes out in January so a review will come in about a month’s time!


        • Jay said,

          December 5, 2013 at 8:30 am

          I’ll look into Springpad. The app (for iphone) I have is “ReadMore” – it’s pretty hard core – for people who really want to track their reading,


  2. Dale said,

    December 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Jay! I’m going to be pushing it to make 35 books. I have 33, now and I’m reading Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale. It’s on the long side, but interesting. I will probably finish it along with a shorter book (I don’t know what, yet) to make it to 35. As I’ve mentioned before, War and Peace, Gone with the Wind, and Moby Dick are among the 35. But I also included two Chaim Potok children’s/picture books that I’ve always wanted to read. I’m all for counting a short story collection in the year that you finish it! Never Let Me Go has been on my radar for a while, now. I would be interested to find out what you think. I may have to do a Chronicles of Prydain re-read in the future, too.



    • Jay said,

      December 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

      Hi Dale,

      I’m sure you get a “waiver” for any numeric goal if you complete those “big three” all in a calendar year. 🙂

      I’ve enjoyed revisiting the realm of Prydain, I think you would too.



  3. Paula Cappa said,

    December 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    You are so ambitious, Jay!


    • Jay said,

      December 5, 2013 at 8:31 am

      Hahaha. Well, maybe – I “did the math” and all that comes out to about fifty pages/day. Manageable when I turn off the tv. 🙂


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