My 2012 reading challenge (and the worst book of the year)

I read 24 books in 2011: two per month, on average; one every 15 days. Not bad, but hardly earth-shattering.

This year, I set myself a challenge—a private new year’s resolution, if you like—to read 36 books: one every 10 days. The only ‘cheat’ I allowed myself was that Granta, the so-called magazine of new writing, to which I am a subscriber, counts as a book under my rules. I don’t care what they say, Granta isn’t a magazine. Oh yes, and, for the avoidance of doubt, reading books on my Kindle™ counts as well: an ebook is still a book.

One week into December, and I’m slightly ahead of schedule: 25 days to go; 1½ books still to read. I’m currently reading Diana Athill’s Instead of a Book. Despite the title, that counts as a book as well.

Yes, I know it’s not the number of books you read that’s important, but whether they’re any good. The whole point of the 36-book challenge, though, was to make sure I read more books this year. With the distractions of websites to maintain, books to write, and tweets to tweet, it’s all too easy to let your book-reading slip.

As in previous years, I’ve maintained a list of books I read during 2012 on my Gruts website. Unlike in previous years, however, this year I planned, on 31st December, to nominate my Book of the Year. That is, the book I most enjoyed reading during the year, irrespective of when it was actually published (although any old favourites I re-read during the year were barred from nomination).

Two thoughts have just occurred to me, however:

  1. I should really nominate my book of the year before Christmas, just in case anyone wants to take my recommendation on trust and buy (or ask for) the book as a Christmas present;
  2. I already know what my nomination for Book of the Year is going to be, so why hang about?

I’ll announce (and explain) my nomination in my next post.

In the meantime, I thought I might take this opportunity to nominate my worst book of the year. I’m not in the habit of slagging off books just because I don’t happen to like them, but one book I read in 2012 was so spectacularly bad that some sort of recognition seemed entirely in order.

My nomination for Worst Book of the Year 2012 goes to Darwin and Lady Hope: the Untold Story, by L.R. Croft, which attempts (very unconvincingly) to resurrect the long-discredited myth of Charles Darwin’s deathbed conversion to evangelical Christianity.

Time is running out. Entropy approaches. We get to read precious few books in our depressingly short lifetimes. It irks me that Darwin and Lady Hope ended up on my reading list. Remember: I read this book so you wouldn’t have to.

You can thank me later.

Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. He is currently working on a book about looking at the world through Darwin’s eyes.Website · Newsletter · Mastodon · Facebook

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