Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So Many Books, So Little Time

I believe Thomas Jefferson said that. Whoever said it described my world to a tee. I am addicted to books. I love to buy them, to own them, to read them. I buy them new. I buy them used. My house is littered with books.

Hence, the problem for me is to decide what book to read at any given time. When book group makes a pick, then my choice is easy -- I read that book as soon as I get my hands on it. But I read quickly, and I need something else to fill the weeks in between book group picks. So I head to the shelves in my library (or in the spare bedroom, or in my office) and say, "Hm, what should I read next."

This year, I decided to go on a rotation of books -- mainstream fiction, non-fiction, and literature. But again, that leaves the whole "what the heck should I pick?" question. I can take days to decide, and then sometimes I'll end up just pulling something off the shelf because I want a quick read while I make my "real" decision.

So I decided to try something new. I wrote down two lists: one of literature I want to read or re-read this year. The other was of non-fiction I want to read. I thought about making a fiction list, but that will likely come from book group stuff and the mind candy novels I'll pull out to rest my brain. I cut up the lists into small pieces of paper and tossed them into different otherwise unused coffee mugs. This is going to be the way I choose books if I don't really know what I want to read.

I'm finishing a Bill Bryson memoir now and next up is literature. I reached into the mug. I shuffled the papers, and what do I pull out? My old standby, my very favorite book ever written.

Last weekend, I read a novel that I randomly pulled off the shelf because I wanted to read some mind candy and I had never read it before, and it ended up being a book that spoke to me at a very deep, intense level. Now I pull out one of my comfort books, a novel I return to every couple of years because it is like an old friend I need to revisit. I almost put the slip of paper back in the mug to pull another one because I kind of wanted to read something I haven't. But that's not how this game is going to work, so I put the slip of paper down and pulled the book off the shelf.

And you know, based on everything that has happened around here recently, this is the perfect time to visit with that old friend.

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