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.


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