While it’s important to write every day, it’s also important to be well-read. Last year (that is, 2014) I read 84 books; in 2015 that total jumped up to 96 books read.
I actually planned to read less this year. Put the time into writing, I said to myself. Somehow I managed to do both as I had a hugely busy writing year. [I also had a busy travel year, so it was busy by every metric] With this “less reading” idea in mind I had set my Goodreads goal at 50 books. Well, I had almost reached that goal by the halfway point of the year so I upped my goal to 75 books. I then blew past that a couple of months ago and (briefly) considered going for 100. In the end I decided to redirect my time elsewhere and will end the year at 96 books.
The biggest surprise (to me, at least) is how many fiction books I read. In the past I read almost exclusively non-fiction. A few years ago I read one novel; in 2013 it was about six, and last year it was 16. In 2015 I read an almost unbelievable 30 fiction books. Most of those (23) came off a classic list of “100 books to read before you die,” from which I had promised myself to read at least one a month. I read almost two. Some of those books were incredibly rotten, while others were exceptionally good. I also read several other fiction books that caught my eye (including Trident Code, the third thriller from fellow hometown boy Thomas Waite).
As always I read a lot of books about Abraham Lincoln – 29 of them to be exact. They run the gamut from the newest release by Harold Holzer to a classic 1922 book on Lincoln’s little-known trip to New England. While reading I also built up my personal Lincoln book collection, which I recently cataloged.
New this year were books on Thomas Edison, research for my own Edison book coming out next year. In keeping with my science background (and my eclectic tastes), two sort-of biographies I read were about a somewhat deranged murderer who helped build the first Oxford English Dictionary and the little-known side career of Isaac Newton, who when he wasn’t discovering gravity and the laws of motion was chasing down counterfeiters of the King’s coins.
I even went back to my roots and read some science fiction. Classics like Cloud Atlas and The Handmaid’s Tale were joined by Tesla’s Signal, a nifty Tesla (and Edison)-oriented romp that includes Wardenclyffe and space aliens.
Soooo, what about 2016? Even though my idea of keeping it to 50 in 2015 didn’t work that well, I will set the same goal for 2016. There’s a good chance I’ll pass it since I beat this year’s goal while still writing the Edison book (as well as an e-book), but I do plan to spend considerable time on my Lincoln book. Actually, as many as three Lincoln-related books I’m developing.
Happy New Year everyone. Set some ambitious goals for 2016, and then, to quote that venerable philosopher Jean-Luc Picard, “Make it so!”
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (Fall River Press) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is about Thomas Edison, due in Barnes and Noble stores in 2016.