As I recline in my air conditioning on the last day of my summer break, I have just loaded up my Nook with treats to savor as I commute for the next eleven weeks. Having downloaded and breezed through the gripping journey of Wild, because it’s just that good—I plan to revisit it slowly and enjoy this week. I’ve got Bared to You because everyone keeps telling me how “You have to read this book!” and I have Gone Girl, because I started it in Barnes & Noble and two hours disappeared into my latte; leaving me in a state of unrest until diving in electronically to finish it. I also looked at my list of things I wanted to read but haven’t been able to give my undivided attention. I added Cutting for Stone, Wool (Omnibus Edition), Mile 81, In Leah’s Wake and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
There are about 100 books on my want it list and usually no more than 10 to 15 on the need it list (which are always cutting the line and interrupting the orderly fashion in which I always intend to sort the want its…those crafty biblio-knaves!) There is also the list on my iPhone that reminds me to check out titles, the back pages of my notebook bless their papery little souls, which list authors to research, books to look into, possible story ideas of my own, and poetry/doodles about what I’m doing at the moment. Without my lists, I am not myself. Without people-watching scrawling, my notebook is naked.
In addition to the list mania and note taking habits that have become a daily routine, I have a good friend in Good Reads and a bestie in the reliable Best Seller Lists both indie and traditional. And then there are the favorites and bookmarks I return to every now and again. Going through them this week I was really amazed at how much I had “saved for later” and wondered what would happen if the option weren’t readily available. Gods forbid!
So why discuss all of this? What is the value of knowing what books you want to read next and what is so important about having want it and need it lists of your own? Hmm…depends on each of us I’m afraid.
For me, I can visualize myself on the 2 train tomorrow morning, engrossed in the electronic pages of one (or all) of these titles. I predict smooth travelling this week from New Jersey, to Manhattan, to Brooklyn, while enveloped in my saving titles. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but if so, I have my wish list readily available to add to. So, I imagine an iced coffee and a banana with Miss Peregrine, and a granola bar on the way home with Leah’s Wake. And when the 2 gets stuck in the tunnel as it always does, and my teeth grind in the same manner as subway brakes announce the upcoming delay…well at least I have my books. Pages make things like commuting bearable for me.
A close friend was telling me over the weekend how she was reading a book that was good, but it wasn’t one of those that grabbed you and said “You must read me today!” Interesting, but not (and I quote) “Oh my God I HAVE to read today!” You know the ones. They are the ones on the lists, the bookmarked items, the ones we can’t stop thinking about as the day goes on. I was so happy to hear her say this. It’s the back book burner I know quite well. Things we want to revisit but life happens, work happens and we are just too busy right now.
Sometimes it’s a little flash of a memory—the book cover, the recollection of its climb up a spot on the lists, knowing there is a good one waiting for you to devour when you get home. And how about that bedside book that you think about from within your cubicle walls? Like a chipped tooth that you can’t stop touching with your tongue…
I remember making myself read manuscripts to and from work so that night time was all for me. When I finally got home from my 9-5…err 8 to 7 maybe, plus two trains a boat and a bus…exhaustion would beat the book most nights. Yes I said boat.
My intention is not to have readers recall times of frustration. In fact, it should be with fond reverie that we look upon titles not yet digested. Even though it may seem that there is not enough time in the day for all the reading we would like to do, rest assured fellow bookies—there will be. If I can squeeze a novel a week into morning commutes, making sure to indulge on every mode of transport along with all waiting rooms and car rides (unless I’m driving of course…but then again, that’s what audiobooks are for isn’t it?) we all can make a little more time for our pages.
In midtown, I send my students out to read the sidewalks. They look at the plaques on Library Way (aka 41st St) and write a response to the quote that speaks to them the most. One quotation often chosen is this literary gem:
“Some books are meant to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is; some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention” ~Francis Bacon
For each of us there is a different interpretation, but to me this serves as a constant reminder to keep abreast of new books, remember and revisit my favorites and always keep adding to my lists. As much as it may seem like there is no time for books, I have never ever, not found time to read.