On May 6th, 1984, I began reading Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany.

It was, in fact, my second attempt; the first, in 1980, ran aground after one too many sex scenes. I had just turned seventeen, and masochistic homosexuality was a bit much for me.

Also on that day, I began keeping a list of the books I’ve read: date started, date finished, number of pages and (most important) the title.

At first, the list was handwritten, on sheets of loose-leaf paper held in a clipboard. (I used to have a half-dozen clipboards, one in almost every room. They’re all gone now, except one that never strays far from my desk. I wonder where they went.)

After a while, I converted the list to a text file on my computer. It’s been that way for a long time – probably twenty-five years, if not longer. It has migrated, with all my other files, to each new computer, but always as a simple text file. (I did have to convert the line endings from cr+lf to lf when I bought the iMac in 2006.)

Yesterday, though, I finally did the (obvious) thing, and imported the list to a Numbers document. This required a tiny Python script to convert the raw list to csv, plus a few manual fix ups, post-import: book titles like 1984 and 2001 were imported as numbers, not text.

So, my list is finally real, computable data, which is nice. And, courtesy of iCloud, it’s available on the iPad & iPhone, not just on the computer: how very 21st-century, etc.

(It tells me I’ve read 700+ books in the last twenty-eight years. That doesn’t seem like very many….)