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Books I've Read in the Last Year

Old Book Bindings, from Wikimedia CommonsFirst, a quick announcement. I've decided to add a new section to this blog, Books, and this will be the inaugural entry. I don't "devour" books, but I read enough that I figure I could post little reviews here. I doubt many people will value my opinions more than just going to Amazon and reading the reviews there, and I could always just go to Amazon myself to post my reviews (which I just might end up doing), but a handful of people who know me might actually be interested in what I have to say, and might like to be able to find it all in one place. Plus, it's my blog so I can do whatever I want. Now, on to the meat of this entry...

I came across an article the other day that piqued my interest. The somewhat depressing headline of the article is, "One in four adults read no books last year," according to an AP-Ipsos poll. The rest of the article went on to list the reading habits of the rest of the country, and it got me curious as to how I fared. So first, let's take a look at what I read in the last year, as best as I can recall (this is also a shameless opportunity to link to Amazon - if you happen to buy any of the following books through these links, I'll make a few cents off it - if enough people do it I can save up enough for a gift certificate to buy a new book).

*-Amazon links different edition from what I read

Wow. I'm actually a little surprised at how much I've read. If I hadn't gone through & made this list, I would have guessed half a dozen or so. Okay, so I've already beaten 1/4 of the population by having anything in that list at all (so did my 8 year old daughter, by the way). But how about the other 3/4? Here's what that article had to say.

The typical person claimed to have read four books in the last year — half read more and half read fewer. Excluding those who hadn’t read any, the usual number read was seven.

Let's see, if I count up my list, it's 13 books all together. So, I read nearly twice as many books as the average book reader. But the article also breaks it down by sex.

Among those who said they had read books, the median figure — with half reading more, half fewer — was nine books for women and five for men.

Oh, so I did much better than the average male reader, as far as total quantiy. The article also discussed variety.

The Bible and religious works were read by two-thirds in the survey, more than all other categories. Popular fiction, histories, biographies and mysteries were all cited by about half, while one in five read romance novels. Every other genre — including politics, poetry and classical literature — were named by fewer than five percent of readers... More women than men read every major category of books except for history and biography. Industry experts said that confirms their observation that men tend to prefer nonfiction.

Let's see, if I look up at what I read - it was mostly fiction (and youth fiction, at that). I suppose A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court could be considered as a classic, as opposed to popular fiction. The Conquest of Gaul is history. I'm not sure exactly how to classify Einstein's Dreams - maybe non-fiction, though it was more a collection of vignettes. And finally, I read two science books, but I'd almost consider Origin of Species as more history than science. So, I was a little varied, but not as much as I could have been.

To tell the truth, this past year I was more biased towards fiction than normal. I usually try to alternate between fiction & non-fiction, since I think they can both teach us different things. Maybe it's not all that bad for my book reading to be biased that way, though, since so much of what I read in magazines, blogs, and other online articles, not to mention the documentaries I watch on TV, is non-fiction.

As far as that quote from the article, I think the part about, "The Bible and religious works were read by two-thirds in the survey," is a little misleading. Yes, I can see two-thirds of people reading religious works, but the Bible? That's a big book. I read all of it once, back in high school, and it took me more than a year to do. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think anywhere near 2/3 of the population read the Bible last year. Maybe they read parts of it, but I hardly think reading selected excerpts counts as reading a book, or my list would be far longer than the 13 books I listed.

There's one last thing I wanted to mention from the article, regarding how the poll was conducted.

The AP-Ipsos poll was conducted from August 6 to 8 and involved telephone interviews with 1,003 adults. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

I wonder how much time they gave people to think about it. Like I wrote above, I'd have only guessed a half a dozen books for myself if I hadn't made that list. Plus, it took me a few days to make that list - some of the books I'd forgotten about until I saw them lying around the house. I find it very easy to believe that this poll might under report the actual amount of books that people read.

So, what does the future hold? Well, here's the list of books that are on my night stand right now. I'm currently reading Voyage of the Beagle, but the rest are ones that I really want to read. That's a lot of non-fiction, though, so I may break it up a little. Maybe in a year, I'll do another of these posts, to show how I did.

*-Amazon links different edition from what I own

Anyway, now that I've started this new books section, I hope to post reviews of some of those books in the coming weeks and months.

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