Half a Century of Books

I had a lovely break in Somerset, and was surprised by how well my little sale went – I’ll head off to the post office tomorrow, laden with parcels.  I’ll see how many books I cull later in the year, and might well bring it back again.

But onto today’s post… We are now in the second half of the year, and I am continuing my quarterly look at how A Century of Books is going. Here was the first quarter’s, where I was on exactly 25 that qualified.  My sidebar at the moment announces that I’ve done 44 of my 100, but there are a further six which I’ve yet to review, so… once more, I am precisely on target!  50 books read for A Century of Books; 50 to go.  (I have actually read nearer 70 books this year, but the others have been pre- or post- 20th century, or overlapped on my list.)

Links to all the reviewed books are here.  And here’s how I’m doing, by decade…

1900s: 3
1910s: 1
1920s: 8
1930s: 6
1940s: 8
1950s: 5
1960s: 3
1970s: 5
1980s: 6
1990s: 5

Still a noticeable slump at the beginning of the century, but surprisingly high numbers at the end of it…

If you’re reading along with A Century of Books, or any similar project – how is yours going?

15 thoughts on “Half a Century of Books

  • July 2, 2012 at 11:06 pm
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    Hi,
    just a quick question about your book sale. I've sent an email on friday, but didn't get any respond. Just wondering if you got it…
    Regards,
    Agnieszka

    Reply
    • July 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm
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      So sorry Agnieszka – I've just found it in my spam folder, and have now replied!

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  • July 2, 2012 at 11:48 pm
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    I've fallen slightly behind (I'm at 44) but am determinedly plotting out my reading so that I'll soon be back on track! Reviewing might be a bit more of a challenge, since I'm only up to 32 there. I am doing well with the 10s, 40s, and 90s, know exactly what I'm going to read to finish off the 50s (hello Angela Thirkell) and have some ideas for the gaps in most of the other decades but the 1960s are proving a bit terrifying.

    What I am really starting to notice is how the challenge is driving my reading habits. It seems like everything I pick up was published in a year I've already completed and how frustrating that is! Unless it's something I'm exceptionally interested in, that means that I put it aside for now, ready to be returned to once the challenge is completed. But, on the other hand, sometimes I pick up a book without even thinking of it for the challenge and then realise it covers a year I've yet to read anything from and that is a delightful discovery.

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    • July 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm
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      Yes, Claire, I definitely recognise those feelings! I am delighted if I book I want to read happens to take up a place, and very frustrated when it doesn't! The ratio will only lean increasingly to the former…

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  • July 3, 2012 at 4:16 am
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    Hi Simon, I'm only at 20 books so far – though I have filled the prospective list with all 100, and I'm really enjoying myself! I just love discovering books that correspond to a year that I would otherwise not have read, and that prove to open a door to a new genre or author. Btw, I include multiple books in a year if that's the case (of course not counting them twice …) – Good luck with the next 50!

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    • July 4, 2012 at 9:18 pm
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      Thanks Patty – and glad that yours is being fun! I initially resisted filling up too many prospective slots to begin with, but I have now pencilled in quite a few, just so I don't forget about them… but the 1910s are mostly absent even of pencilled-in ideas!

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  • July 3, 2012 at 6:05 am
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    You're doing well. I'm at 7 but didn't start until May but no excuse, I know I won't finish it this year but I will plug along. My own goal is just to do it. I'm not too concerned about the time frame. It is fun looking at the books in second hand shops and noting the dates.

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    • July 4, 2012 at 9:20 pm
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      It's definitely made me think much more about the years of books I have on my shelf – and surprised me quite a lot, about which decades I read and which I thought I mostly read.

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  • July 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm
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    This "challenge" has been the biggest surprise to me. Out of 84 books read this year, only 28 have counted so far. (There have been a few duplicates in some years, but not that many.) Most of my reading has fallen into either the 21st century (biggest part of the surprise – although, I chalk this up to discovering Laurie R. King's Mary Russell books), or the late 1800's. Here's my breakdown:
    1900s: 2
    1910s: 0
    1920s: 3
    1930s: 3
    1940s: 0
    1950s: 3
    1960s: 3
    1970s: 3
    1980s: 5
    1990s: 6
    I have books sitting on the shelf that will help me with the 20s-60s, but the early years may be a little tougher to find. I'll definitely be looking at other people's lists. :) And, I think I'll stick with giving myself 2 years to finish. I'm really enjoying tracking my reading by year, though. I've never done it before, and as I said, it has proven to be quite surprising. Kudos to you and Claire for keeping up the pace!

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    • July 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm
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      Gosh, 28 qualifiers out of 84 is, indeed, surprising! And how funny that your 1940s would be empty, when I'm bursting at the seams in that decade.

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  • July 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm
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    I can only say how impressed I am with you and others for taking on a challenge of this type! It's beyond me at the moment – I think the only thing I've read which was written before 1970 was one of my old school report cards!!
    But it's an intriguing challenge – particularly in how it seems to change reading habits – I might have a go at it next year!

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    • July 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm
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      Haha! Well, 1920s onwards is fine, but I am surprised at how little I read in the first two decades of the century.

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  • July 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm
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    Congratulations – that's fantastic! I'm only at 24, but I *am* allowing myself 2 years, so I guess that's okay. I do have some duplicates (but not counted) and, like Claire, keep finding myself picking up books for completed years. I've got an enormous pile lined up for reading, but need to clear the backlog of posting on completed books, which is a bit frustrating. Shall try to apply myself over the summer! I'm enjoying it immensely, and tracking down the missing years is fun!

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    • July 4, 2012 at 9:22 pm
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      Yup, with two years you're on track :)
      This project has given rise to a frustration of which I would never have conceived – as you say, finding that two books are published the same year!

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  • July 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm
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    I'm using Arnold Bennett's Literary Taste: How to Form It as my starting point. Apart from the enjoyment of reading books I wouldn't in the past have thought about reading, it's coming across blogs like this that makes me realise that the internet has been the best thing that could have happened to writers who had been largely forgotten. I look forward to catching up with as you carry on with your project!

    Reply

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