I kind of stumbled into this challenge, at first never even intending to participate, and then never thinking I would actually read 1oo books. I started blogging a couple book reviews because I liked the idea of keeping track and writing about what I read, but I didn't officially join the contest right away because I'm sometimes ridiculously private and sensitive. The books I read and my reactions to them seemed too personal, somehow. I finally joined because Prisco sounded so excited about the growing number of participants and I figured no one would read my reviews anyway. It's a good thing that Dustin only started publishing our reviews on Pajiba after a couple months had passed, or I would have balked again. Weirdly enough, my friends know that I'm taking part in this challenge, but they don't know where or have my blog's website, and I trust them not to search me out. It's not like I'm baring my deepest, darkest secrets, but even my choice of books say an awful lot about me, and I'm always afraid I'll be misunderstood.
I started this project at the beginning of a break in employment, thinking I could give myself some time to read, learn, and figure out what I want in life. Besides my obvious love of reading for the stories, learning, and the procrastination technique of staying busy while avoiding anything I didn't want to do, the fact that I even finished 100 books actually says more about my ability for sustained unemployment than any kind of fast-reading ability. It took hours and hours and hours to read these books. I can't skim. Even if I get really excited about what's going to happen next and skim a page, I always go back to make sure I didn't miss anything. There is no possible way I could have finished all 100 while gainfully employed. Even while I was doing some temp work, I could barely read 10 or 20 pages a day; there's just too much to do. I am very impressed by all those with less free time and who still managed to read a great number of books.
Looking back at what I've read this past year, I find a pretty random selection of books from dense histories, to romance novels, to vampire books, to Oprah-approved drama. A few of the books that stick out the most for me were: The White Tiger, Middlesex, and The Book Thief, with my favorite non-fiction book of the year being In the Heart of the Sea. And I really liked the majority of the rest of the books I read. Being somewhat naturally compulsive, I read 50 fiction and 50 non-fiction books when I discovered I was trending in that direction anyway. I also decided to read a book beginning with every letter of the alphabet when I realized I was just missing about 9 letters. Although both these goals were rather unnecessary, they did encourage me to find and read some books I otherwise wouldn't have read.
I've read a number of complaints about writing the reviews for this contest, but I never felt the reviews were too much of a burden. I like the idea of having a record of what I've read and my thoughts about the book; it's what drew me to the contest in the first place, and the forced reflection did me good. I also think it helped that I wouldn't let myself finish my next book until I had written the review for the one before. I am a tremendous procrastinator, so I know that if I ever got behind, there'd be no catching up. But now I'm not sure what to do with myself. I get almost all the books I read from the library, so writing a review allows me to keep a part of it with me, which I especially appreciate when the book is really good or meaningful. I've gotten into such a pattern of reading and writing that it might be hard to give that up. But even if I do keep writing about books, the push to 100 was pretty intense, so there will be no more counting or goals, just reading what I want when I have the time.