Reading Styles

I don't think I've mentioned this before (and I'm too lazy at the moment to read back through my postings to find out). I have a confession to make--I'm a book tramp. I can't be loyal to just one book at a time. To concentrate only on that single book from start to finish, reading only that one book at every reading opportunity. I've tried repeatedly over the years to be faithful. Sometimes I can manage for a week or two and even for a book or two, but then my eyes and mind start to wander. Even avoiding the library and bookstore doesn't help me. The books I own somehow sense my vulnerability to temptation and begin to talk to me. When that fails to capture my attention, the siren song begins. There is clearly some conspiracy involved here as different books speak at different times. Sometimes it's entertaining, mindless fiction. Sometimes it's something educational. Or biography. Or philosophy. Or literature. Or art. I suppose it doesn't help that from my favorite chair I can hear see most of my book collection on the big living room bookcases. On the rare occasions when I think I've defeated the living room books, the books in the computer room (mostly tech and science stuff) and in the spare room (mostly kids books and literature) start in on me. You'd think I wouldn't even try to resist, but somehow it makes the plunge into the pages that much sweeter.

At the moment, I have only two books in the active reading loop: Gene Wolfe's Shadow and Claw (which combines Shadow of the Torturer and Claw of the Conciliator into a single volume) and Tales from the Perilous Realm by J. R. R. Tolkein. I am missing a lunchtime book. I feel the urge to read something educational. I just read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey and You're Broke Because You Want to Be by Larry Winget. I'm listening to a Suze Orman book on my mp3 player at the gym and just finished Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I don't know if I want to continue on the financial theme or switch to something completely different. For all that my books (and the library's books) talk to me, they aren't being very forthcoming with suggestions for a lunch book.

It's amusing that I'm a book tramp as an adult. As a child I was more of a single book kind of girl, at least during the school year. I think that largely developed because of limited bookbag space--I could only take one or maybe two books to school each day. I don't recall using the school library as a resource for books to leave in my school desk. Most of the reading I recall doing in school was from books I brought from home or from the public library. In the summer I suspect my reading habits were less monogamous, but I'm not certain. I know I would have checked out more books from the public library, but I don't know that I would have interleaved the reading of the books themselves. I might have just motored through each week's stack of books in serial fashion.

There is only one thing I regret about my career as a reader. I wish I had kept a list of all the books I have read. Nothing elaborate. Just a simple author-title list, perhaps with year of publication for good measure and the year I read it. For the past fifteen or so years, I've wondered how long that lifetime reading list would be by now. Of course, this curiosity has not been strong enough to cause me to start making that list yet. I could probably reconstruct a partial list of books I read as a child and teenager. Perhaps I'll work on that as an inclement weather project in the coming months.

Oddly enough, for all that I have not written a list of books I have read, I am very good at collecting the titles of books from published reviews or lists of "must read" books for various seasons, subjects and literary periods. I compile lists of books to read from magazines, websites, blogs and newspapers. I carefully jot down the authors and titles. I save Post-It notes with books on them, then transcribe the note to a larger piece of paper. I create these lists and lose these lists, only to create new lists. And I never read a single book from them (at least not knowingly). I have no idea why. You'd think if I went to the trouble of writing it down, I'd actually consult one of these lists and go track down one of the books!! Nope.


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