When it comes to books, I've been keeping track of what I've read since 1966. The only book on my list that year was Tess of the D'Urbervilles, which if I remember correctly, I read over the course of two summers while volunteering at the library. I know I read more than one book that year, but that's the only one I recorded. I recorded it in my 'Books I've Read' 3-ring binder and on a 3 x 5 card in my card catalog. I don't remember where I kept my cards before I bought my antique oak drawers several years ago. Probably in a cardboard box.
In 1967, I read two more by Hardy: Far From the Madding Crowd and The Return of the Native. I read all the well-known books by Hardy when I was in my mid-teens. (Full disclosure, I was born in the enchanted year of 1952 AD, pre-carseats, pre-playdates, pre-every child having allergies, pre-after school activities.) I also read Valley of the Dolls, Man-Eaters of Kumeron, Yankee Ghosts, Lizzie Borden: The Untold Story, and several James Bond books.
For better or worse, my parents never tried to keep me from reading anything. I'm sure I read books that other parents would have been horrified to find in their child's possession. Volunteering at the local library, where it was often just me and whomever was acting librarian that night, gave me access to the racier stuff they kept for adults under the desk. But this was a small town in southeastern Pennsylvania, so there was nothing to blow off your hat, maybe just Peyton Place or The Group.
I'm making quick progress because it's sort of mindless work and because I'm pretty good at data entry. I'm good at that and can use the calculator without looking, but my skill on the piano is not what it used to be. Too much computer and accounting work and not enough piano. Anyway, I'm up to Janet Evanovich now and have over 600 books logged in. But I still have a lot to go.
What makes me mad is that I know I've read books that aren't on my list or on a 3 x 5 card. Damn it! Why wasn't I as obsessive and compulsive when I was younger as I am now?! There are some years missing completely and some with very few books listed.
It's rewarding to see that I've consistently increased my reading through the years. I now average 2+ books a week, although I read several books at once so there are weeks when I don't finish anything and weeks when I finish three. It's also interesting to see how much I read and what I read during different times of my life. The years my mother was ill, the years with significant relationship ups and downs, the year I started a new job.
This is an interesting project for me. I've set up the program I'm logging the books into so I can sort the records by author, title, or year. It's fun (or embarrassing) to see how many books I've read by certain authors. I see I'm very heavy on mystery writers, but that's not really a surprise. I see that I read more classics when I was younger. I think my powers of concentration were better then and I was more excited about trying to read all the 'great books'.
It's also interesting to see how my handwriting has changed, from the full and rounded, slightly backhanded teenagerish writing to forced forward slanting script to the almost illegible half printing half cursive I use today. There are white cards and blue cards, heavier cards and cheap cards. There are inks of every type and several different colors. It's personal history in a box. And now on my laptop.