March 14, 2023

Cover of the book "Sundown Towns" by James LoewenCover of book titled "I alone can fix it" by Carol Leaning and Philip RuckerCopy of book titled "Caste" by Isabel Wilkerson

I'll admit up front that I'm over three months past when most people do a year-end review. But it's spring break for me, and I almost feel like I have time to think about things like this for a few seconds. 

I like to read books. I'm certainly not the fastest reader out there, nor do I end up reading a huge amount of books each year, but usually, I'm able to finish at least 25 books a year. Last year, I only read 17 books.

As the end of the year approached, I looked back at the books I had picked and noticed that the lengths of books I was reading were trending upward. In 2020, the books I read had an average length of 314 pages. In 2021 it was 337 pages. Last year it was 342 pages. 

The longest book I read was "Sundown Towns" by James Loewen. Not only was that book long, it was also a slow read for me. I can't exactly explain it - the book never seemed to drag, but yet it was the type of book that took more deliberate reading.

Another long book was "I Alone Can Fix It" by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. This was about the last year of the Trump presidency. I try not to read too many contemporary political books, but in 2021 I had read a book about the first three years of the Trump administration, so I figured the Leonnig and Rucker book would be a good way to finish the story of what happened in the White House.  In retrospect, I'm a bit ambivalent about my decision to read both of those books. I think they were fine choices for what they were, but I'm not sure how much they will stick with me long term.

The last specific example of a long book I read was "Caste" by Isabel Wilkerson. Out of the 17 books I finished in 2022, this was the book with the highest average rating on Goodreads. I enjoyed this book, although there were some chapters in the middle which I felt dragged a bit. Wilkerson wrote about an event that happened to her at an unnamed business in Chicago towards the start of the book. I am positive that I had either heard her tell that story on a podcast or in a radio interview well before her book was published, but I couldn't find where I had heard it before. I definitely recommend this book even though it was a bit long and had a few slow parts to it. There is a reason it was so highly rated by many people.

I think another reason I ended up finishing fewer books than I wanted was that I am mostly reading books that I check out from the library as ebooks. Often times, I don't finish a book before it is due and then there is a hold on the book while others read it. I end up with a number of books-in-progress that I'm always planning to come back to after finishing the library books. 

So far this year, I've only finished three books. I'm probably already behind in my goal for finishing 25 books this year. That's okay, though. I still like reading whatever I can.

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