I think of teen librarian Marcus as the most well read person I know. What he is reading always comes up when we talk, and often enough it's some complicated and difficult tome that he's done with a day later. Or so it seems to me. If he solicits a book suggestion from me I have three minutes to come through. After that he will have already begun something else, finished it, and started to work his way steadily through a pile of five or so varied books that he somehow acquired while I was racing upstairs to grab him the book I wanted him to read.
"Too late." he says, as I hand him the book it took me two minutes too long to find. And "Oh," he adds "I've already read this."
Of course he has.
When I was a child I loved baseball. I loved playing it and watching it, but I also collected baseball cards. Possibly, above everything, I loved and was fascinated by all that statistical knowledge, all that quantification. I loved how things could be broken down into so many distinct categories, charted year to year, and compared, in respective worth, to a history of other player's statistics.
All this reading stuff, and all this baseball card stuff, collided in my head this morning. I started thinking of a years reading in terms of statistics one could put on the back of a card, except instead of a baseball card it would be a readers card. Instead of a boring picture of a person pretending to bat it would have a boring picture of a person pretending to read. And instead of stats like RBIs, hits, at bats, and home runs, it would have stats like books started, books finished, and total pages.
Here, I'll show you. Because I don't know how to make proper looking tables, we'll go line by line with what I imagine Marcus's 2013 reading statistics would look like. Keep in mind these are the statistics of a reading all star, possibly my library's reader MVP.
Back of Marcus's 2013 Readers Card:
1. Books Started: 947 (extremely good)
2. Books Completed: 429 (league leading)
3. Average: .453 (excellent)
4. Genres/Subgenres read from (GRF): 29 (excellent) (this reflects variety of reading)
5. Books of Notable Merit Completed: 61 (excellent) (this reflects quality of reading)
6. Total Pages Read (TPR): 111,415 (league leading)
7. Bestsellers Completed: 17 (fair to good) (this reflects social zeitgeist of reading)
Certainly one could come up with more stats, but, as with a baseball card, one has to be able to fit it all on the card back itself. Also, one wants to stick with a concise, elegant array of stats that can tell a complete story. From Marcus's card we can learn that he is a voracious reader, borderline obsessive actually, very exploratory in his reading, focused on content of good quality, and not overly concerned with general popularity or with reading the things most readers are talking about.
I'd like to share my reading statistics with you as well, but like baseball cards, and readers cards, one doesn't want to try and squeeze too much information into one blog post. We'll do it tomorrow.