Finally some forward progress! There were three 600-plus-page books in this lot, but I mixed in some shorter, lighter stuff, and I finally came up with a mix that pushed me upward on my daily average rather than down. Granted, some of this reading was done very bleary-eyed (including one night in Milwaukee where I didn't sleep and read a James Baldwin book in a bingo intermission), and there were a few short stories that I gave up trying to understand about halfway through (least favorite book of the year!), but, hey, I persevered, so let's all applaud me, OK?
[pause for lengthy, slightly embarrassing round of applause]
[further pause because the applause just won't stop]
[wow, more applause...c'mon, cut it out; I have to finish writing this]
The page count stood at 21,567 after 301 days, making for an average of 64.4 pages. I'm hoping I can keep this forward movement going and end the year on a high note. The final books are sitting in a pile, and I'm confident I will claim victory at year's end.
Best Fiction Book: The Complete Stories by Bernard Malamud (a default choice, as this was a rough bunch for fiction. There are a bunch of good stories here, though, and even the ones I didn't enjoy were, for the most part pretty readable. There's a compliment an author loves to hear: "pretty readable." At least Mr. Malamud isn't alive to read it. He also wasn't alive when I was in high school and wrote an entire project about his career without reading more than one book he wrote. Sorry again, sir.)
Best Nonfiction Book: Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson (I needed some good nonfiction reads after my valiant battle with the short story anthology, and this and Are We Winning? did the trick. Thank you, Misters Ronson and Leitch. You may have saved this project.)
Toughest Read: The Art of the Story: An International Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories edited by Daniel Halpern (I understand that anthologies are generally meant to be dipped into and not plowed through all at once. So maybe it's my fault I hated this book with such a passion. Or maybe I just don't like short stories as much as I used to. Whatever the case, let's not speak of this book again.)
Easiest Read: Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball by Will Leitch
Number of Books on Loan: 1 (Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball by Will Leitch. Thanks, Bryan!)
Number of Books Given as Gifts: 0
Number of Books Signed by the Author: 2 (The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman [The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume I] by Hunter S. Thompson, and Power on Ice by Denis Potvin with Stan Fischler)
Book That Was Sitting on the Shelf the Longest: I'm not entirely sure. It's either The Complete Stories by Bernard Malamud or The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman (The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume I) by Hunter S. Thompson. I'm leaning toward the former, but, whatever the case, I'm glad I finally got around to reading both of them
"I have no desire to do anything. I am afraid of nothing and I want nothing. I wait like a psychopath in a game of dodge-ball: breathing quickly while the fools decide which one will throw at me next, and jumping aside for no reason except that I like being in the middle. And there is really no reason for being in the middle. Why not quit altogether and be down outside the circle?
I have no idea what to say, I don't know when I'll see you again and I don't believe in anything beyond the next ten minutes. People keep calling me and telling me what a great friend I am. Everybody is looking for someone who can stand up in the wind. It is lonely standing up and crowded lying down. I refuse to be an anchor for other people's dreams--but then I refuse to anchor mine to anyone else. So I have no choice but to stand up and piss into the wind. Pardon my vulgarity."from The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman (The Fear and Loathing Letters, Volume I) by Hunter S. Thompson