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Resolution Off the Charts at 23,749

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If 23,749 was a distance, it would get me back and forth from my home in Reno, Nevada to Pittsburgh five times.

If 23,749 was a height, it would be 10 feet from the summit of Makut Parbat in the Himalaya.

23749 is a Zip Code, or will be one someday, near Norfolk, Va.

Add up the calories in 53 fried Twinkies and you get approx. 23,749.

The 2012 road to reading led me to new adventure.

The 2012 road to reading led me to new adventure. (photo by Marjorie Williams)

If 23,749 were an a circumference measured in miles, it would be more than that of Venus.

If 23,749 were an age by days, it would be 65+ years.

In my case, 23,749 is the number of pages I have read in 2012. Whoa, really? Well, that’s what Goodreads tells me in my stats for the past year.

But more than that, 23,749 means I more than accomplished that goal of reading 75 books this year that I set January 1, 2012.

Me.

I accomplished a New Year’s Resolution. It’s traditionally something I’d be keen on for the first month or so of a new year. For example, running for exercise, giving up butter, sleeping eight hours a night, organizing all the closets — those have traditionally made my lists.

The key to this success? I love to read, I have access to a lot of books and I could measure results. The challenge was time — finding the time to make it happen. Even though my life is busy, busy, busy, choosing books that were sure to compel me to read kept the momentum going. For me, that meant good books — no trash, very few best sellers and portable — the books may or may not be classified as classics but necessarily not high-brow. Good books and never stopping. As in finishing a book and starting a new one the following day or even the same day. Not letting my brain, eyes or fingers for page-turning rest when I had made time.

A bonus to it all has been starting this blog. That in itself has been an adventure and one that will continue into 2013.

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Autumn reading warmed my heart. (photo by Marjorie Williams)

So want to know what I’ve been reading? I did blog back in August about the first 50, so here are the final 34 for the total of 84:

18 Fiction

16 Non-Fiction

I got into an Irish thing in August between Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw reading An Ideal Husband, Dubliners and Pygmalion by each and  add a biography – Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions by Frank Harris.

The looming elections led me to read Common Sense by Thomas Paine, The Theory of Social Revolutions by Brooks Adams, The Souls of White Folks by W.E.B. DuBois, and Griftopia by Matt Taibbi. The books helped me to make sense of our history, economic and social challenges.

The need to totally escape into thriller led me to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Cinema Murder by E. Phillips Oppenheim and the Fortieth Door by Mary Hastings Bradley.

My love of baseball and music drew me to Paul McCartney: A Life by Peter Ames Carlin and Moneyball by Michael Lewis.

Get your English on — with a maiden name like Melton, I must have some connection to John Milton. So I dove into Paradise Lost and continued on to The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, the little-read Anne Bronte with Agnes Grey after Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forester, for non-fiction, the autobiography of Charles Darwin and to round out the English sprint I read Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.

My friends, I do buy American and from modern authors too: The aforementioned Flynn, The Road by Cormac McCarthy (intense and good), The Heart is a Lonely Hunger by Carson McCullers, a juvenile read Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata and A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway.

I’ve got this ancestry research part in my soul that I love to enrich so to play with the theme: Hey America, Your Roots are Showing by Megan Smelenyak, Maria by Curtis Bok, Chapel Talks for School and Camp by Anne Barton Townsend (a great-aunt to my husband) and Western Carpetbaggers by Thomas Fitch.

Great Short Poems edited by Paul Negri was and is a heart-felt treasure.

Stranger than Fiction by the Voice of Reason radio personality and Don’t Know Much About Geography by Kenneth C. Davis came by way of a visit to the local used bookstore. While Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min came from my Mommy.

I thank the University of Nevada Journalism Department for bringing author Mark Kurlansky to town to lecture. I crammed in advance of the visit to read the epic 1968:The Year that Rocked the World. My 2013 list will include Salt and Birdseye by Kurlansky, for sure.

Ever on my spiritual path I welcomed (along with Milton and  Townsend above)  Jesus, A New Vision by Marcus Borg and Help Thanks Wow, the “new one,” by Anne Lamott.

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The snow flies as the year closes, but the reading continues into every season. (Photo by Vic Williams)

What’s on the bedstand now? I’m in the mid-point now for Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty and Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Getting me up to that momentous 23,749.

Far more than a number, reading helped me associate my life with books and my books with my life. It has energized me, lifted me, educated me, entertained me, changed me.

Ode to Used Books

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The great objection to new books is that they prevent our reading old ones.
– Joseph Joubert

So ran my thoughts this week while browsing the aisles at Zephyr Books, a nearby used book store in Reno, Nevada. I have no ax to bear against any new book-seller – be it a large store with the newest best-sellers or a small independent bookstore with its ability to tap into the local readers’ interests. But I am so grateful that this third platform exists – that of the used book merchant whose stock and trade is providing an avenue into vintage books – still good, still reliable, still pertinent – but perhaps the publisher no longer stocks or prints those books or the books don’t enjoy the 2012 critics circle awards or a big push by literary publicists. The Barnes and Nobles of the world have limited space and want to market to the masses – what was hot two years ago, needs to go, go go to make room for the latest celebrity exercise craze or Part #215 of Janet  Evanovich’s Plum series.

In weaving the aisles of Zephyr’s organized shelves I marveled the copious categories of books and felt reassured that these volumes have a loving temporary home organized and upright in rough alpha order rather being put in someone’s shed or being thrown in a landfill. For these authors – every one  of them – still have a story to tell or information to impart beyond the suggested “Buy Before” or presumed “Best-by” date that is arbitrarily assigned by the New-to-You stores.

Not bound to be classics, like Jane Eyre or Catcher in the Rye, the books here are the magnum opus of another order – the literary Rembrandts of the 1990s or the niche books about geography or painting or Chinese politics that just never hit the stock shelves of the Wal-Mart that are well researched, polished and ready for your — and my — bookshelves.

The staff is friendly and willing to chat it up with you and they have a fun coffee bar to boot.

My Saturday sojourn companion was daughter Marjorie – 12 years old and brimming with Book Love/Lust – just like her Mama. Her quest was to gather books for a “new” bookshelf (more on that later) in one of six genres. “I need a book on Russia, Mom, or something from the 1920s” – such is her eclectic quest for knowledge. We walked out with a WWII book, a mystery and a realistic fiction.

But before our spree was over, we spotted three special books nestled in the Nevada section authored by my dad – her granddad. Yes, of course we have them at home, treasured for all time, but to see dad’s tomes displayed knowing that they are waiting for a special owner to purchase them, read and cherish them, did my heart good. A professional journalist, Dad had wonderful stories to share: “Sonny Boy” is an autobiography; “Nevadans” and “101 Nevada Columns” are a “Best Of” selection of his columns from the Reno Gazette-Journal where he (Rollan Melton) wrote from 1984 to 2002. His books never made national headlines or garnered reviews in the Times, but he imparted good news about our neighbors, neighborhoods and our state. Without this used book outlet – this dealer in our yesterday texts —  Rollie’s fundamental stories and talents would be relegated to a pulp mill. With it, readers and writers can find a new friend.