By midnight tonight, I will have posted my 49th and final book of the year. I could have hurried it up, I know, and picked another quick read to follow it, and made my total, but I decided not to. Why? Because, for one thing, I knew it would be cheating to pick short books to finish out the year just to reach 50 when what I'm really dying to sink my teeth into at the moment is the zillion-page Beatles biography I bought with my Christmas money the other day.
The other reason has to do with the epiphany I had earlier this year about the books I've read, and that is that, for all I read, I really don't actually remember very much. For instance, take the book The Liar's Club. This is a book I love, and I've read it at least three times, possibly four. And yet, when I reread it a month ago, guess what? I had completely forgotten that there was a huge secret about author's mother revealed in the last chapter of the book! Sure, it had been 10 years or so since I read the book, but still -- that was a pretty big thing to completely forget about. And what did I remember? Bits and pieces -- the scene where the mother drove the grandmother and two girls across a bridge in a hurricane and the car completely spun around and one of the girls (the author) threw up down the front of her tee shirt. The fact that her father would tell his tales to all his buddies and punctuate them with "I shit you not." And the awesome, awesome scene where the author, as a pissed-off eight-year-old girl, to take revenge on a family who had said unkind things about her mother, sat up in a tree and shot at them with a BB gun, and when the dad calls her out, she has quite the response: And I came back with a reply that the aging mothers in that town still click their tonges about. It was easily the worst thing anybody in Leechfield had ever heard a kid say. "Eat me raw, mister," I said. I had no idea what this meant.
This is what I remember about books -- vivid bits and pieces, maybe a major plot point or two. Sometimes there's a little more to it than that, especially if something in that book just doesn't make any damn sense to me, and I'm still pissed off about it. But anyway, when I was thinking about this again the other day, after rereading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and realizing how very little of it I actually remembered, I thought, it's bad enough I devour books and then don't remember much of them later -- I'm sure as hell not going to stuff some extra ones in before the end of the year the way you might pop those last few bites of pie in even though you're already full to bursting from Thanksgiving dinner. I chose the sensible course by picking up a book of moderate length I've actually meant to read for several months, and I've read it at a reasonable speed for the amount of free time I've had in the last few days, and at some point today I will finish it and put it on my list, and that will be that. And you know what? I don't consider it a failure. I bet not too many other people out there can say they read 49 books in one year. Sadly, I bet most people out there can't claim to have read ten books in a year.
Just doing my part to bring the average up, I guess :-)