CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The challenge was to read 150 books in a year in recognition of West Virginia's 150th birthday.
Nicholas Anderson went many chapters beyond, with a grand total of 450 books read in 2013 as part of the "WV Reads 150" initiative.
West Virginians of all ages and all walks of life joined the yearlong initiative to read 150 books in 2013.
They could read books in any format (printed, e-book, downloadable text), from any source and on any topic, fiction or non-fiction. People read books individually or joined teams to read 150 books collectively at more than 75 public libraries, academic libraries, schools and bookstores across the state.
While he had the option of listening to books or using an electronic reader, Anderson likes holding a book.
"I am a physical media kind of guy," said Anderson, who added he isn't into video games as much as a lot of folks.
Anderson, who gets his mail in St. Albans but lives closer to Teays Valley, borrowed most of the books he read from libraries in the counties of Kanawha, Putnam, Cabell, Lincoln and Wayne. He figures he owns 200 to 300 books and keeps many in boxes due to a lack of space for placing them on shelves. He especially likes the ones he has that were signed by authors.
His regular job as a merchandiser for Proctor & Gamble and Kraft means he travels a little to Nitro, Hurricane and Ripley as he puts up displays and checks shelves. Most of his reading is done during lunch breaks and at night as he unwinds.
He has always loved books.
"Since I was a little kid, I liked reading stories," he said.
Among his favorite books he counts "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman and "Messages to Adolph" by Osamu Tezuka. He also enjoys reading Terry Patchett.
Once he gets into a book, he stays focused but has been known to toss one aside when it does not hold his interest.
He watches little TV because books are his passion. He generally doesn't keep track of how many he reads in a year, but the West Virginia Reads 150" challenge was enticing.
The program began after officials at the Kanawha County Public Library brought the idea to the West Virginia Library Commission and the West Virginia Center for the Book, a state affiliate of a national program geared to celebrate reading.
Preliminary figures show that some teams read as many as 1,000 books collectively and some individuals who chose to participate on their own read 300 or more.
Anderson registered as an individual participant through the Kanawha County Library. The library system had 312 teams in all, with a total of 1,985 members reading 38,599 books, said Terry Wooten, marketing and development manager.
A celebration for participants who participated in West Virginia Reads 150 was to be in January at the Culture Center but inclement weather followed by a water crisis meant the program had to be canceled.
Susan Hayden, adult services consultant for the West Virginia Library Commission, hopes it can be rescheduled so prizes can be awarded and readers recognized.
If you didn't take part in that challenge, there is time to participate in the next.
"We have started West Virginia Reads 150+ because West Virginia Reads 150 was such a success," Hayden said.
"We heard from so many teachers that we decided to carry on the reading initiative," she said. "It will be a little different. Last time a team was limited to 15 people. Now a team can be any number of people. For example, a whole classroom could be a team. This time we will keep track of age groups. It should be interesting."
She hopes to have the statewide final tallies of the 2013 challenge soon.
To participate in West Virginia Reads 150+, the new reading initiative for 2014, contact Susan Hayden at Susan.G.Hayden@wv.gov or 304-558-3978.
Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, http://www.charlestondailymail.com