In a single month (September 1988 specifically), Pamela Paul, New York Times book reviewer and author of three books on marriage and parenting, claims to have read at least 15 books, a combination of some of the world’s greatest 19th Century and Modernist Lit, and a couple of not-so-classic books.
If you’re having a hard time reading the titles above, here they are:
The Scarlet Letter, Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, The Assistant, Heart of Darkness, Go Down Moses, The Turn of the Screw, The Dead, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Great Gatsby, Interview with the Vampire, No One Here Gets Out Alive, Breakfast of Champions, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and Confessions of a Pretty Lady.
How could anyone possibly polish off Henry James and James Joyce and Conrad and Crane and Malamud and Lawrence and still think to themselves, “Yeah, my brain could definitely process those in a couple of days. What’s next?”
To be fair, I don’t actually think she’s lying, it’s more that I began a similar project of recording every book I’ve read in a huge Moleskine tome I bought in Florence because I was feeling romantic and literary and bored, and I’m lucky if I knock off a book a week. This list is both insane and intimidating, but you also wonder what she’s been reading for the last 24 years if she blasted through this many classics in one go.
Even if I have a touch of size envy, I do like keeping my own list. I back it up on Goodreads and Librarything because I’m practical about the likelihood of my losing this record, but it’s nice to have a journal that essentially shows what I was interested in or trying to be interested in at different points in my life.
One thing Paul says is that she was always unable to keep an actual journal, and I believe J.K. Rowling once said that she just found herself too boring to bother writing down her experiences all the time. I’m pretty much the same. Every once in a while I decide that I need to start recording my life, then promptly become bored with it and decide to spend my time reading a story I haven’t heard before.
What about you all? Do you keep a record of the books you read, or do you journal? Scrapbook? Quilt? Mosaic? Fingerpaint, etc.?