I don't like to do end-of-the-year posts, but I do have some quick comments about my "official" 2011 reading year (even if I still think that it's a weird way to measure reading). Mostly, that I'm feeling fairly relaxed and calm about the way I read and the conclusions I've been reaching about literature. It's not just a numbers things, but more in terms of diversity. After years of feeling that I'm not reading right, along comes a year in which I read what I want, how I want, and without feeling like I owe anyone anything.
For starters, I've continued my trend of reading more books in Hebrew. Though a native speaker, reading in Hebrew has always been significantly harder (and slower) for me. Three years ago, I read only two books in Hebrew. This year, I read 19 books in Hebrew. Overall, only 58% of the books I read were originally in English: taking into account the fact that I read more science fiction and fantasy this year (genres almost exclusively dominated by English language books), this is a pleasantly surprising number. The remaining 42% is spread out over 19 other languages. Once books in Hebrew are taken into account, this means 35% of the books I read were in translation - not a huge statistic, but not an embarrassing one either.
This pleases me. I know it shouldn't - I know there's no reason it should - but something about the fact that I read books translated from languages I'd never read before makes me quite happy. It makes me feel as though I'm finally doing what I've always sought to do: broaden my horizons, learn about other cultures, step outside my "comfort" zone, and read what interests me. But I know that pushing myself further will ruin everything I've achieved until now. The fact that I read so much science fiction this year was a joy. The fact that I let myself read some sillier young adult books this year made it more relaxed. The fact that I didn't spend all year long counting and measuring what books I was reading meant that I was reading only for pleasure, never once telling myself that I have to read something specific.
I know it won't be easy to continue with this type of reading. Even though it's far more rewarding, I sometimes still fall back on the "reading is a race" mentality. Even this week, I found myself thinking that I was doing something wrong by not finishing a book I'd started last week and doing other things instead of reading. It's a gradual process, but at least it's happening. And I'm gaining so much more from reading this way.