Reading in 2017

With 2017 in the books (pun most definitely intended), here’s a look at my reading for the year in comparison with other years going back to 1996.

2017 was my best year ever in terms of the number of books I read. The 58 books I read in 2017 smashed my previous 2013 record of 54 books. But in terms of total pages, I fell a little short of my all-time record for a year, with just under 23,000 pages. The average book length I read in 2017 was about 400 pages, and the average audiobook listening time in 2017 was about 15-1/2 hours. 6 of the 58 books I read were fiction, the rest were all nonfiction.

Best book of 2017

I read a lot of good books in 2017, but the book that stands out as the best one of the year, for me at least, is Assignment to Hell: The War Against Nazi Germany with Correspondents Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, A.J. Liebling, Homer Bigart, and Hal Boyle by Timothy M. Gay.

Some other books I read in 2017 that I’d recommend to others include:

  • Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester
  • The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team In Baseball and Breaking the Curse by Tom Verducci
  • Red: The Life & Times of a Great American Writer by Ira Berkow
  • Casey Stengel by Marty Appel
  • Go, Flight: The Unsung Heroes of Mission Control, 1965-1992 by Rick Houston and Milt Heflin
  • Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
  • The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
  • Coming into the Country by John McPhee
  • Marco Polo by Laurence Bergreen
  • Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles Leerhsen
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
  • A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures by Ben Bradlee

Reading in 2018

I am trying to step things up in 2018. Back in early November I did some math to figure how I might squeeze in more reading. Most of my reading these days is in audiobook form. My math told me that if I aimed for 3-1/2 hours of listening everyday, and if most of the books (nonfiction) I listened to at 1.25x speed in Audible, which is what I typically do for nonfiction, I could manage something on the order of 70-80 books/year depending on their length.

I used November and December to test out this theory. Whereas in previous months, I was lucky if I hit 60 hours of listening time in Audible, in November I hit 100 hours, and in December I hit about 108 hours. I finished 10 books in November and 10 books in December. I expect much of the same in January, where I’ve already finished one book so far, and expect to finish several others in the near future. Time will tell if I manage to pull far ahead of my previous years in terms of how much I read this year.

What I am reading now

I just finished re-reading my favorite novel, Stephen King’s 11/22/63I am about to start reading Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff. I am also halfway through Jack McDevitt’s upcoming Academy novel, The Long Sunset. The book comes out in April, but Jack was kind enough to send me an ARC. I am partway through Douglas Brinkley’s biography of Walter Cronkite. I am considering re-reading my second-favorite novel, Stephen King’s It. Also on tap for the near future: Personal History by Katharine Graham, Grant by Ron Chernow, Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon S. Wood. There’s more but what I plan to read is often affected by what I am reading and things can change rapidly. Stay-tuned.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.