What books are you reading this year?
Whenever my friends and I gather, the question inevitably comes up: What are you reading?
Now you can keep track of the books you read and share the titles not just with your friends but also with the world. The website Goodreads.com invites you to participate in its 2019 Reading Challenge.
The goal is to get people to read more books — a worthy goal, especially when you consider the other entertainment options these days.
We preach to the choir here, of course. Anyone who still reads a daily newspaper and who reads a column about books needs no reminder of the importance of reading.
On the Goodreads Challenge, you pledge to read a certain number of books and then list them as you go. As I write, 879,504 people have pledged to read 41,740,884 books in 2019.
Interestingly, 132 challenges have already been completed. Those people, we can assume, pledged to read only one or two books in 2019. Congratulations, you did it!
I have been enjoying the much-needed three-week vacation from my teaching job, spending much of my time reading. I have never kept track of the books I read, but 2018 would probably be the record.
Four grad school literature classes and preliminary work on my master’s thesis kept me turning pages.
While many of the required-reading titles were enjoyable, it is nice now, on vacation, to read books without worrying about writing an essay on them.
I just finished Andrew Roberts’s brilliant biography of Winston Churchill, and the great Charles Krauthammer’s posthumous collection of columns, “The Point of it All.”
One of my favorite authors for pure entertainment is Jeffrey Archer. His latest novel, “Heads You Win,” contains some disappointments but I liked it anyway.
It tells the story of a Russian boy and his mother who escape from Leningrad in 1968,
After the KGB murders his father, Alexander and his mother Elena are smuggled out of the country in a crate. On the docks, there are two crates to choose from: one going to London, the other to New York.
They can’t decide, so they flip a coin. Then, taking the-road-not-traveled theme, the novel tells the story, in alternating chapters, of their life in New York and their life in London.
The disappointments come with the ending and with some truly implausible scenes. And what was supposed to be a surprise was anything but.
Still, the pondering of how life can be made so completely different based on decisions we make kept the book interesting.
I like audiobooks when I am walking or driving, and my latest is Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot.” No, that is not the biography of one of our current politicians.
The Goodreads challenge will help you read more because, like anything else, writing it all down and keeping track of it makes it more likely you will do it.
The singer Art Garfunkel has kept track of the books he’s read for decades. You can see them on his website.
He read 10 books in 2018, bringing his total to 1,281 since he started keeping track in 1968.
I noted one book that Art and I both read in 2018: Robert Hilburn’s “Paul Simon: A Life.”
Something tells me I liked it more than Art did.
William P. Warford’s column appears every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.