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370 Books in 2023: Charles Vacca ’77

I was recently going over some past On Wisconsin magazines and came upon your Summer 2022 OnCampus feature, “A Mighty Feat of Reading,” describing how Kyla Vaughan ’22 read 392 books in 2021! Well, I am happy to report that I managed 370 in 2023, including the 365th on Dec. 29.

I, too, did it as a personal “bragging rights” thing, but my circumstances are a bit different from Miss Vaughan’s. At 68 years old, I am still a full-time, self-employed attorney, operating in both MA and RI courts. And during the weekends, my time is spent heading a local historical society (Pawtuxet Valley Preservation and Historical Society, West Warwick, RI) and serving on the BOD of the nation’s oldest stamp club, RI Philatelic Society, among other activities. Just like Miss Vaughan, my background is steeped in reading, having attended Henry Barnard Elementary School, Providence, RI, which emphasized reading skills during the 1960s when few public schools did so. I also urge people to eliminate social media, TV, and other social activities if they wish to read lots of books during a year!

In annually ranking my reads with my “Best Reads of — And Other Skims” which I email to friends/colleagues, the two top books of 2023 were Europe Central by William T. Vollman (2005 National Book Award for fiction) and David Haberstam’s The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (his last published book). My latest calculations show that I have read more than 300 books yearly starting in 2020, culminating in my personal best of 370 in 2023 and 3,319 volumes since I started counting in 2004!

And just like Vaughan, my 2024 will be focused on reading award winners, favorite authors (e.g., Joyce Carol Oates, Larry McMurty, Stephen King et al.), and genres of Civil War, baseball, etc. I do not expect to reach 370 again, nor am I that concerned!

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