Last year I mentioned my increasing boredom with end-of-the-year lists. I mentioned my main dislike of them. I did not mention an additional unease I have with them: what exactly is a reading year?
Despite my online presence, reading for me is something entirely personal. It's marked by personal events, is dependent on personal emotions, and happens when I personally have the time for it. Our lives aren't dictated as much by years as we'd like to think, they're dictated by personal occasions and eras: when I had that job, when I went on that vacation, when I took that course, when this major change in my life happened...These time periods can be as short as a few days, or as long as several years.
I was reminded of this last year, when I was surprised to discover that my first book of 2009 had been The Master and Margarita. Until that point, when I'd tried to summarize my year, I'd been naming completely other favorites - and yet The Master and Margarita quickly turned into one of my all-time favorites. It was just read in a different time period so I kept missing it. The same applies to this year as well. The books I read during Sci-Fi Month (and in the weeks after) don't belong to this year - they belong to the era before February (and started in December 2009). Just like there is one book that belongs to the February era. And then dozens belong to the March through October era. And then the post-November era.
I couldn't give a top-ten list of the year. Or top five. Or even just top 1. Every small era that officially existed in 2010 (some rolled over from 2009, some will continue to 2011) is its own "year". The reader I was at that time was completely different, goals were set, reached and reset, and my reactions to some of these books were entirely altered by the personal settings I may have been in.
So I'm not looking forward to my 2011 "reading year". That does not exist. I'm eager to continue with my "Post-November" reading era, because so far it's had one spectacular book, two wonderful books and a few pleasant ones. I am not certain when this particular reading mood will shift, but I'm confident that 2011 (for all its worth) will contain some interesting reading eras.