What I read in 2014


I read 36 books in 2014. That’s one every ten days on average. This shows an uncharacteristic degree of consistency on my behalf. My three preceding yearly totals were 34 books (2013), 36 books (2012), and 37 books (2011).

A quick analysis of last year’s reading reveals the following split:

Sebald ‘novels’3

(With the exception of Austerlitz, which I didn’t read last year, I make a point of refusing to classify W.G. Sebald’s ‘novels’ as fiction. I’ll explain why at some other time, if I can be bothered. [Postscript: See here.])

No surprises with these figures, then. As always, I read almost no fiction in 2014. Some years ago, I made a conscious decision to devote what precious little reading time I have left in this life almost exclusively to non-fiction. I’ve nothing against fiction (although, it should be said, they do make an awful lot of that stuff up, you know), but there are so many good books out there that some drastic triage felt in order. I like fiction, but I prefer non-fiction. Or, rather, I prefer certain types of non-fiction. ‘Non-fiction’, a category defined by what it isn’t, is a pretty ridiculous way to lump together books as diverse as Gibbons’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Deliah’s How to Cook, vol. 3 (neither of which, for the record, I’ve got round to reading just yet).

Splitting last year’s reading another way also reveals the following:

Books read for the first time23
Books re-read for the nth time13

What’s this? A chap who doesn’t have time to read fiction has time to re-read books he’s already read? That’s right. I don’t see this as in any way inconsistent. I have limited reading time left to me; why not spend it reading books I know I’m going to like? And what more sure-fire way is there of knowing that I will like a book than having read and liked it before?

Splitting last year’s reading yet another way also reveals the following:

Books read on Kindle9
Books read as dead trees27

To the horror of a couple of my bibliophile friends, I’m a reluctant and surprise convert to the Kindle. I love reading ‘proper books’, but I also love reading on the Kindle. Again, I’ll explain why at some other time, if I can be bothered.

And finally, splitting last year’s reading yet another way reveals the following:

Books read about nature/place19
All the other stuff17

A healthily balanced split, I’m sure you’ll agree.

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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