Well, the 50 Book Challenge is over for 2005, and here are some final stats. During the year, I did read a number of books which I thought were either too short or too cheesy to count towards my challenge; all of these "discounted" books were fiction. For the challenge itself, I read 65 books. I discounted 9 books, for a total of 74 books for the year. Not too bad.
Here are some final stats on the books themselves:
Total Fiction (Challenge/Total): 30 / 39
Total Non-fiction (Challenge/Total): 35 / 35
Here’s how non-fiction broke down into categories (a book can belong to multiple categories):
I’m pretty happy with my reading list for the year, although I’d have imagined I’d read more biology and more literature. Most of my fiction was on the lighter side, and I suspect that the biology counts are skewed because I did read a fair amount of biology in the form of journal articles. In fact, I’m guessing that my non-fiction reading was a lot more balanced if you include journal articles.
What were my top books of the year? I’m not going to try to rank them, but here’s the top 10 books I read last year:
Richard Rorty, "Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity"
Richard Rorty, "Achieving Our Country : Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America"
John Banville, "The Untouchable"
Akhil Amar, "America’s Constitution : A Biography"
Charles Taylor, "Modern Social Imaginaries (Public Planet)"
Charles Stross, "Accelerando"
Michael Sandel, "Democracy’s Discontent : America in Search of a Public Philosophy"
Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle:
What does 2006 hold for my reading list? Like Will Baude, I am looking forward to a year without feeling forced to write about every book I read (although I didn’t hold to this rule and did read 9 books I just didn’t count towards my total). Also like Will, I read fewer books in 2005 than I had in 2004. I’m pretty sure the reason for this has little to do with the Challenge and more to do with a series of difficult personal and family events.
In 2006 I resolve to read about the same mix (percentage-wise) of fiction and non-fiction, but the fiction will (hopefully) be better quality. I hope to read more biology/anthropology in 2006, although given that books are often out-of-date, I expect journal articles to continue as primary in that field. I also resolve to read more economics and particularly economic history. I expect law-related books to taper off a bit, mostly because I have less of a backlog now of older stuff and will expect to read mostly newly published works and journal articles. I resolve to read more empirical political and social science; 2005 was a philosophy and theory-heavy year and it’s time for more balance.