The 50-A-Day Project: Books 31-40 (Halftime)

This batch started off rough, with a William Kennedy book that quickly relieved my guilt about having never read a William Kennedy book and a book about Hank Williams, Bocephus, and Hank III that I'd been looking forward to reading but soon realized would contain very little I didn't know (the book also seemed to have the fewest interviews of any biography I've ever read...I assume the author felt that lots of quotes from interviews with Hank III would be enough). So, that, coupled with some music festival trips and the general sluggishness summer brings to me (I know, I'm weird), made me worry that I wasn't going to make it to the halfway mark. But a couple of good books followed, and I was soon back on track.

After finishing the 40th book, I had tallied 12,096 pages in 185 days, for an average of 65.4 pages a day. Not too bad, and better than I'd thought I'd be at the beginning of the journey. Early on in the journey, I had thoughts about going for 100 books by year's end, but that seems unlikely now (unless I start reading really short books). Still, a final total of 75-80 books and 25,000 pages would be swell.


Best Fiction Book: O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
Best Nonfiction Book: All Hopped Up and Ready to Go: Music from the Streets of New York 1927-77 by Tony Fletcher
Toughest Read: The Ink Truck by William Kennedy
Easiest Read: Family Tradition: Three Generations of Hank Williams by Susan Masino
Number of Books on Loan: 0
Number of Books Given as Gifts: 1 (All Hopped Up and Ready to Go: Music from the Streets of New York 1927-77 by Tony Fletcher). Thanks, Josh!
Number of Books Signed by the Author: 2 (All Hopped Up and Ready to Go: Music from the Streets of New York 1927-77 by Tony Fletcher, and I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle )
Book That Was Sitting on the Shelf the Longest
: Sixties Going on Seventies by Nora Sayre. I'm reasonably confident I bought it at the Friends of the Library Book Sale in Ithaca, NY, probably in 1994 or 1995. Ms. Sayre visited my college during my freshman year, and my Intro to Journalism professor (Jill Dianne Swenson, a fine professor who frightened 75% of our class right out of the journalism major) set me up to interview her for a class assignment during her visit. I did some quick and dirty research in the Ithaca College library, which, in those days before the Internet took over, meant a lot of microfiche reading. I did as well as I could, I suppose, but I can't imagine it was a very good interview on my part (though I think I got a good grade on it). I do recall that Ms. Sayre was quite kind and didn't openly berate me for my greenness, which was nice of her. And so, over 15 years later (and nearly ten years after Ms. Sayre left this world), I finally got around to reading one of her books. It turns out she was quite a good writer, and a witness to a lot of interesting moments in the 1960s. Sure would have been nice to ask her more about that.

Best Paragraph:
"Americans have never known what war really is. No matter how much they saw it on television or pictures or magazines. Because there is one feature they never appreciated: the smell. When you go through a village and you suddenly get this horrible smell. Everybody's walking around with masks on their faces 'cause it's just intolerable. You look out and see those bloated bodies. You no longer see humans, because they've been pretty well cleaned up by now. You see bloated horses and cows and the smell of death. It's not discriminating, they all smell the same. Maybe if Americans had known even that, they'd be more concerned about peace."
Dr. Alex Shulman, from "The Good War": An Oral History of World War Two by Studs Terkel

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