I’ve gotten a little more apprehensive each time an amazon package arrives with a new book. It’s far too frequent, unfortunately, for me to keep up with the influx. Beginning July 19, 2017, I resolve to not order another book until I read through and digest all the books I already own. That is, approximately, 685 books, those on my library shelves that for some reason have been deemed worthy to sit in my permanent collection, and 20-40 other stragglers–new, as yet unopened books and a few oldies that have migrated to a potential give away pile.
My library includes art books I love but do not display and have not read because they are too large and cumbersome. Does anyone really read coffee table books? I will have to research that a little bit. I resolve to read them all, possibly with the aid of a hoist.
The collection also includes books that I will never read again but that represent an important period in my life. For example, I’ve saved the best wine books, about a dozen, from the stacks I had when I was a wine writer and wine business PR professional. Books from another important period, getting and staying sober, are also keepers. Literature on sobriety and various memoirs of alcoholics are books I do intend to read again…and again.
I have a smattering of history, a good helping of myth and spiritual books (including the yoga books I will read/reread first), books on fashion, productivity and organization, cook books, travel books, autobiographies and biographies (especially of musicians, such as Neil Young, Patti Smith, etc.), and books on writing. I have a handful of plays and quite a bit of poetry. Then there are the novels.
Fiction is my weakness, but I do not have nearly as many novels in my permanent collection as I would have guessed. Only about 100 of the books in my library are novels. This comes as quite a surprise to me. I think what’s happened is that I’ve given away all but my very favorite novels, those that I am guaranteed to read over and over.
At 53 I’m sick of skimming the surface of what I know and like and want to go deeper–I want to get back to the close reading I did as a kid and in school that made life feel so much richer. It’s not enough for me to own a book on yoga, I want to read and fully comprehend the material.
One thing that has certainly prevented me from reading and concentrating the last few years is my dry, aging eyes. I have lots of pesky eye floaters that swoop across the page as my eyes scan back and forth and I will likely need reading glasses soon, so reading has not been the sheer pleasure it used to be. I am going to keep Systane eye drops constantly at my side as I read so that I can read more comfortably.
I’m also looking into adapting my diet (less caffeine, more avocados and omega 3s) to help lubricate my eyes. And, speaking of diet, I will control my eating so that I can read without a bowl of something in my hand which makes reading awkward and results in food stains in my books. A less full stomach also will keep me more alert.
I will stop and look up words I don’t know and make a record of them. I’m just going to stop mid-essay and drop in these words and their definitions, so if you see that, you know what’s going on.
I’m calling this the Selfish Book Club because I’ll be reading and recording my impressions just for me. (You can join, but you can’t choose the books or talk about your kids.)
Lastly, I won’t be rereading the stuff that is on my Kindle or iBooks app. Maybe after I’m through the print library but no promises. For the print books, any book that doesn’t thrill me anymore is not going to get a write up and will be donated to whoever is still taking printed matter. And with that, I’ll get to reading and reporting.