A resolution to read books again, for real this time


I love books. But I don’t always read them.

Our shelves are full of books. There’s a dozen heavy boxes in the basement overflowing with books and yet more in random stacks I took out to admire, then left in a leaning tower next to Christmas ornaments and Woody, the kids “Toy Story” doll.

We moved our books from our Portland basement to our Eugene rental in 2011. The movers cautioned that we should move them ourselves because the weight would quickly drive up the bill. We moved them again ourselves to Las Vegas in 2014, then back to Oregon again (ourselves) nine months later.

Clearly, we care about our books, the printed ones. This is even after my retired professor, Dean Rea, said he got rid of his books for a Kindle and encouraged me to do the same. I can’t.

My collection is mostly non-fiction. Politics, journalism, business, history, sports. Lots of sports. I own far more books than I’ve managed to read. I’m a sucker for anything by Michael Lewis or David Halberstam, two writers who managed to master sports, politics and business. I have a ridiculous catalog of journalism, marketing and business how-tos and tutorials and a box full of Oregon history, hikes and campsites.

Too many of them have been held and cared for, but unread. For the last eight years, I blamed parenthood for putting my book-reading life on hold. The kids are now old enough that the excuse is lame.

So for New Year’s, I made a resolution to read books again. For real. I set a goal to read 52 books this year. That’s a pipe dream. But it’s an easy metric for me. One book a week. I’d like to branch out to fiction and new and diverse writers. I will still allow myself an occasional how-to and some nonfiction.

To keep me honest, I’m using this post as a log of the books I read and finish. (Giving myself a head start by counting books I finished on Christmas vacation.)

  1. “How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck.” Trying to learn to shoot video. It’s OK. Nothing better than hands-on learning, though.
  2. All the Light We Cannot See.” Fiction that my wife (who is far better read than me) said I would like. I did.
  3. The Idea Factory.” A profile of Bell Labs, AT&T’s famous R&D center from the mid-century. I wanted inspiration for innovation. I got an overly detailed manual on the 182 men who mattered at Bell Labs. I couldn’t keep track and speed read the last 200 pages.
  4. The Girl on the Train.” Heard an interview with the author on NPR. As someone who likes riding trains and wondering about other riders’ lives, I fell in love with the story.
  5. $100 Startup.” Found it for $7 at a used bookstore in Bend. It had been on my list for a while. It’s a fantastic guide for anyone who’s dreamed about striking out on their own. Plus, the author is a Portlander who wrote the book in the same coffee shops I hang out in.
  6. The Boys in the Boat.” Recommended by my sister. “I slowed down because I wanted to savor every word,” she said. It’s as good as she said. Bonus: It’s a deeply Northwest book.

So I can keep track of my wish list for the year, here are more books I’d like to get to. I’d love your recommendations, too. This list has been updated based on feedback from friends on Facebook and Twitter. Also, I’m now on Goodreads.

  • “Dead Wake”
  • “Once in a Great City”
  • “The Index Card”
  • “A Passion for Leadership”
  • “Ready Player One”
  • “Fourth of July Creek”
  • “The Warmth of Other Suns”
  • “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena”
  • “Astoria”
  • “And the Mountains Echoed”
  • “The Drifters”
  • “The Power of the Dog”
  • “The Son”
  • “For the Time Being”
  • “A Little Life”
  • “Open”
  • “Cutting for Stone”
  • “Beyond the Beautiful Forever’s”
  • “The Free”
  • “Fates and Furies”
  • “The Man Without a Shadow”
  • “he Case of Lisandra P.
  • “Alexander Hamilton”