Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hitting 300: A Look Back

A couple years ago, a little while after I'd started using Goodreads to track the books that I read, I decided I had a goal: 300 by 30, to read 300 books before turning 30. It seemed a reasonable challenge, but with that much time and that many books to go, I really had no idea. It could end up being laughably easy. Or I could get blindsided by life and fall terribly short.

Well, I just finished my 300th book yesterday, with months to spare.

This isn't EVERY book I've read in my lifetime. When I first started on GR, I had to set up some parameters, or I would have gone insane trying to remember everything I'd ever read, EVER! (Because, you know, I'm crazy like that.)

As a kid, I read A LOT. I started slowing down somewhere around middle school. And by high school, I wasn't reading for pleasure at all anymore. I had so much to read for school (and found most of it pretty boring) that when I wasn't busy with homework, television became my new go-to entertainment. And I didn't pick up another book that wasn't assigned reading until halfway through college. Sad, I know.

I had recently switched from an education degree to a BA course of study. As a result, my schedule had become slightly more open, and infinitely less stressful. And it hit me, how much I'd loved to read as a kid, and suddenly I knew that it was time I got back to it.

So, a few years later, when I stumbled upon GR, that's where I started my reading history. I remembered clearly every book I'd read since then; there was no worry of leaving anything out, which would be an inevitability if I tried to go back any further. I didn't include books I'd read for school. I didn't include books I'd read as a child. And I didn't include non-fiction. So, yes, my list is incomplete. But it's incomplete on my own terms, damn it!

Since I'm all about useless stats, let's break it down:

1-star books: 11
2-star books: 44
3-star books: 130
4-star books: 96
5-star books: 19
Average rating: 3.23 stars

That may seem like a low average rating. Most of my friends have numbers that are at least 3.5, many over 4. But the thing is, 3 stars still means I liked it. I enjoyed reading it. There just wasn't anything super special about it. The 4-star books are the ones that I really liked, and the 5-star books are the ones that I loved. On the other side, the 2-star books are the ones that I could take or leave, and the 1-star books are the ones I truly didn't like. This may not be the way everyone rates their books, but it makes sense to me. Especially in the absence of half-stars, it makes sense to have a broader range of options for the books I liked to varying degrees, and not quite as much range for the books I didn't care for. The middle rating doesn't mean it was a mediocre book. In that context, 3.23 isn't so bad.

I have a couple more posts planned to mark the occasion. I'll share some of the best and the worst books I've found along the way. Tomorrow, though, I'll be posting a review of lucky #300, John Verdon's Let the Devil Sleep. It's a pretty good one (4 stars) by one of my new favorite authors, so I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts.


Read the rest of my "Hitting 300" blog series:
Part 1: A Look Back
Part 2: Let the Devil Sleep
Part 3: They Can't All Be Winners
Part 4: Saving the Best for Last


  1. Congratulations Charleen!

    I often wish that I'd been on Goodreads my whole life, so I could see every book I've ever read. :) Instead, I signed up in 2009, when I was 21 years old, and had already read unknown hundreds or thousands of books.

    ~Lianne (from the 75 Books group)

    1. Thanks Lianne. It is frustrating, knowing there are so many more books that are missing from your list. Luckily for me I didn't actually read a ton before discovering GR (as an adult, anyway) mostly just reading and re-reading the books that I owned. I actually found GR because I was looking online for recommendations, sick of reading the same things over and over again!