Image: Mitchell Luo, Unsplash (cropped)

It feels like only a couple months ago when I sat down and decided that my goal for 2022 would be to a read a short story every single day. In all honesty, when I made that decision, I wasn’t fully sure I could last the whole year. Surely, I’d lose steam. Or I’d lose interest. Or I’d forget a day somewhere (and to be fair, I came close a couple times – laying in bed at night ready to go to sleep and the realization would strike, so I’d have to get up again and read through it). But here we are. It’s Dec 30, and tomorrow, I will sit down to read the final story of my challenge. I made it! *phew*

Somewhere along the way, I got curious about word count. I don’t honestly know why. I went back and started collecting the word counts for the stories to see what a grand total might be at the end of the year. Then I decided I would also (try to) collect word counts of books I read. And then – for some really unknown reason *shrugs* – I was curious about the word count of student work I’d read all year. And so I tracked.

So, after reading the story tomorrow (I’ve set an alarm to be sure I don’t forget – because I would be the person who makes it 364 days, and then misses the last one), my word count totals for the year are as follows:

  • Short Stories (365): 1,282,390
  • Books (42): 3,298,125*
  • Student work (Spring/Fall/Summer Semesters): 873,325

For a grand total of 5,454,140 words. I have nothing to compare this to. I have no idea if this is a lot or a little. But wow – that feels like a big number.

Some other random facts just for fun:

The shortest short story was “Proud” by Marc Littman at 100 words. (Also happened to be story #100!) (Read April 10)

The longest short story was “On Destiny” by Lee Chang-dong at 13,593 words. (Read January 21)

My favorite story from this year was “Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu. (Assuming tomorrow’s story doesn’t knock it out of my top spot, of course – but this has been holding out as #1 since January 14.)

The shortest book I read was Write Characters Your Readers Won’t Forget by Stant Litore at (an estimated) 5,830 words. (Finished on July 20)

The longest book I read was actually a textbook (Criminal Investigation at an estimated 142,835 words), which feels like cheating – so I’m going with the next longest book, which was The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan at (an estimated) 134,550 words. (Finished on March 30)

*I did my best to gather word counts for books that I could find online. If I couldn’t find one (which was often the case), I took pics of a couple pages, counted the words (using copy/paste into a word doc – thank you for that feature, iPhone!) to get an average, and then multiplied that by the page count (taking out blank pages between chapters, or pages that only had a couple lines on them, or when the first page of the book didn’t start with one, etc.). In other words, this was not an exact number, but hopefully it’s close.

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