Sunday, January 06, 2019

As a reader I cherish the fantasy of one day stopping acquiring books, of subsisting only on what is already stashed away in the crammed larder that I call a study. Buying books and not reading them – or waiting to read them – is a form of hoarding, similar to picking up and hanging on to something because it might one day come in handy, but a book is always both more and less than handy: potentially life-changing and, at the same time, quite useless. In a quasi-Borgesian way, I would ideally draw my last breath just as I turned the final page of the only unread book left in my collection. At that moment my library – my life – would be complete.

--Geoff Dyer, "Better read than dead"

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

I'm back again

Before I discovered book blogs, but after I had realized the internet could be used to place holds on library books and to find other readers in like-minded communities, I enjoyed perusing the comprehensive reading lists that others were putting online. If only I had kept a list of every book I'd ever read--or had maintained consistent lists for my kids that lasted for more than a random school year here and there!

I went to work creating as comprehensive a list of my own could be, sans children's books, using the lists I found as a way of jumpstarting my memory. I made the list I constructed the center of my auxiliary blog once I started this one, and updated it fairly regularly, even after I'd stopped blogging here. It was just so useful to have a list close at hand whenever I needed to make a recommendation but could remember only a partial title or that the author's name had started with an S.

In late November I saw a link to a journalist's lifetime list that dated all the way back to 1949. I loved perusing the years, seeing what had stood the test of time and what had not. It sent me back to my own yearly lists, where I was dismayed to note that for way too many books, I had retained nothing. Clearly, I needed to either return to blogging my reading or begin annotating my lists from here on out.

And because bookish camaraderie is what I need more than the fretting over politics that's made up the largest portion of my social media diet of the past few years, here I am.

I've long intended to reread my Margaret Drabbles in the the order that they were written, interspersing them with my Anne Tylers. These two may seem an odd coupling for most, but my instructor assigned  The Realms of Gold and Searching for Caleb in a lit class my freshman year of college and I've counted Drabble and Tyler as favorites ever since. I reread A Summer's Bird-cage and The Garrick Year in December. I'm now reading Tyler's first, If Morning Ever Comes. Chances are I won't work my way through all their books this year, but I'm hoping to get through the ones written in the 60s and 70s at least.

Otherwise I want to spend the year reading from my 60 by 60 list, a five-year reading plan that ends on my birthday in October, and from which I still need to read 18 books. I've been overly focused on just-published books the last few years.

Happy New Year and happy reading!

As a reader I cherish the fantasy of one day stopping acquiring books, of subsisting only on what is already stashed away in the crammed lar...