In 2017 when I watched 500+ movies in a calendar year, I wrote that “There are a few things no one actually wants to hear about: your dreams, your diet, and how many movies you’ve seen this year.” To this list I would add “how many books you’ve read.”
I think this rings true for any media consumption at all.
My first book of 2021 was Everybody Has a Podcast (Except You): A How-to Guide from the First Family of Podcasting by the McElroy brothers in late January, an advanced reader copy that I reviewed here. The 100th was a slim paperback copy of The Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein, a book I would best equate to talking to an older person who is telling a relatively good story, but where you’re waiting for the sudden slur or outdated perspective to drop.
According to Goodreads, which keeps track of the books I do not finish as well as the ones that I do, I am 31 books ahead of schedule for the year and I’m not actually sure what number I will end up on. I’m what book circles call a “mood reader,” which means that I only pick up a book when I’m in the mood and I tend to read somewhere around 27 at a time. I could probably finish Mike Warnke’s no – really – all – the – girls – were – super – hot – and – wanted – to – fuck – me – Satanic – Panic – memoir The Satan Seller tonight if I felt so inclined, but I’m more in the mood to read a likely terrible cultivation webnovel via app instead.
As a child I was one of those kids who would devise lighting rigs so that I could read under the covers at night. Before school started I would hang out in the library of the elementary that my mother worked at and “repair” books with packing tape and thin pieces of cardboard. I stopped reading after I graduated with a degree in English literature. To be quite honest, I quit reading traditional media while I was getting a degree in English literature. Before 2020, I can only really recall reading a handful of books, namely House of Psychotic Women.
I joked with my young sister in law that most of my book-reading binges this year have been motivated by rage and to an extent this is correct. I started reading again late last year as a way to avoid the dawning terror of social media. Whenever I would go to open Twitter I would instead see my open Kindle app and read something there instead. You can’t doom-scroll if you’re reading excellent Tor novellas or whatever is available on Kindle Unlimited. Two of my primary articles from this year on books were inspired by rage. I would read a book expecting to be entertained and something would fail and instead I would be incensed.
Take The Next Everest, a book I received as an advanced reader copy from the publisher, and which left a sour taste in my mouth. I wrote 2600 words about it here, and read three additional books on the subject because it only seemed right to come well prepared when dissecting a person’s lived experience.
I hate this trait of mine, to deep dive into things that I do not enjoy. It’s why I have read 14 or so K-pop novels, attempting to find a good one. I did (seriously, read XOXO by Axie Oh if you’re looking for a book about K-pop that reads well). .
What’s next? This past week I saw a tweet about Suga from BTS apparently asking other Korean performers if they wanted to start a book club together and now my brain is 100% hung up on the idea of what that would be. RM, the leader of BTS, put out a reading recommendations list that’s pretty well known in BTS fan circles but I’m fascinated in what Suga’s reading list would look like. It would be nice to just read something on a theme where I was excited about the prospect of the list rather than compelled by some kind of anger.
There isn’t really a narrative here, no lessons learned at the end of 100 books. There are certainly people who have read more than me, just based on the people I follow on Goodreads. I can tell you that, if you’re looking to avoid looking at whatever is currently on fire, sometimes it is nice to sit down with a good book.