We’re coming to that time of the year when people are asked about what they’ve read during the previous twelve months. Well, I say people. Nobody’s asked me so far. Normally this wouldn’t bother me at all because the thing that’s always struck me as little short of miraculous is how those people who are asked actually remember what they’ve read. Not the details of individual books, but the books themselves. I started thinking about some way of remedying this appalling bibliophilic amnesia earlier this year, when we had to get out of our house to make room for builders and I had a strong sense that I was losing control of my life in the most basic ways. I couldn’t find socks that matched, or corkscrews that worked. (Yes, that basic.) My reading was all over the place as well. And then it struck me. Why not combine the need for a bookmark with the need to make some record of my reading? Not rocket science, I know, but it made exciting sense to me. So I bought a pocket of index cards and started to write the author and title of the book at the top of the card, along with the dates I started and finished reading it. On the card, I wrote anything that came into my head as I read – page references to bits I wanted to remember, comments. I resisted the temptation to institute a rating system, and didn’t much care whether what I wrote would make sense to anyone else (and I’m a little worried that anyone else might be a category that includes the future me, if only in terms of sheer illegibility). And now, as we enter November, I find myself with a nice little stack of cards, which I can arrange in chronological, or alphabetical, or, indeed, random, order. And what I’m going to do with these cards now is see exactly which books I have read this year and, after a little selection, tell you which ones I’ve liked most and why. It’s what Cheryl Cole and Stephen Fry and Orlando Figes (probably not) will be doing in a month’s time. I thought I’d get in first.
Now where are those cards?