no, I haven’t read anything else by Henry James either

“And I was trying to get through this book my sister had, something by Henry James,” said a colleague while we were waiting for take-out, “but it had so many long-winded sentences. What was it called; I’ve forgotten.”

The Wings of the Dove?” I suggested, idly keying James’s name into Goodreads to see what I could find.

“No, no; that doesn’t sound like something by him.” She pondered this for a moment. “Ambassadors?” I pulled up the author’s page from Goodreads — yes, there was something called The Ambassadors by Henry James. She noticed The Wings of the Dove as I scrolled through. “Huh, you got that one right. So you’ve read his books?”

I made a face. “Well, I know the titles and authors of a surprising number of classics. I’ve read very few of them.”

She gave me an odd look. Oh well, there goes whatever little lit cred I ever had.

This is one of the more typical responses I get when I say I haven’t really read all that many classics. Reader, I only finished Jane Eyre last month. I kid you not.

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2017 reading goals: just read more

I’ve been on Goodreads for a very long time. Since June 2007, says my profile. That’s almost ten years. I’ve always been meticulous about tracking my books using the site, and it’s been very helpful when I’m at a book fair and just couldn’t remember whether or not I already own a book.

I’m pretty sure I always mark a book as read when I’ve finished it and usually I remember to put down the date I finished it as well. Data from the last few years should be very accurate. It’s both a puzzle and a mild source of embarrassment when the statistics for 2016 declare that I only read eleven books the whole year. (One of those ‘books’ was actually a short story. A pretty cool one by Neil Gaiman, but it was still a short story.)

It wasn’t me forgetting to add books or things going awry in the system —  the truth is I just didn’t read much last year. I had problems finding books that interested me, and I had a really big problem of maintaining interest in the books I did actually start.

I’ve joined the 2017 reading challenge — that’s almost automatic after all these years. I don’t think I’ve ever hit my goal; it’s always slightly out of reach. (Or in the case of last year: very, very far away.) I only put down 25 for this year and it seems such a small number, considering how I used to blaze through books when I was younger.

So. This year. I’m going to try to update the reading progress of the books I’m currently reading at least once a day, mostly because I’m curious to see how much reading I actually manage to do in a day. (I’m a bit of a statistics nerd, really.) Hopefully it’ll help me actually finish those books this year!