Sunday, May 23, 2010

Recent reads and an unasked-for explanation

Since demolishing Jim Butcher's Changes, I've devoured four more books, all from my existing collection.

You see, I am a woman on a mission. I catalogued my personal library recently, clocking in at 500 books, which didn't include the miscellaneous books hiding out in my closet or on loan to people. Of those 500, about 375 were books I'd bought with the intent of reading them. Problem is, I always got distracted by shiny new books from the library and in the meantime I'd find more cool books to buy without reading, and thus the collection grew without being read... 500 books isn't the biggest, clunkiest collection, I grant, but it's still quite a bit, and pending a new job, I plan on moving--and I really don't feel like moving 500 books into what's likely to be a modest apartment.

Now, I am the type to re-read good books. However, most books are not re-read books--there are just too many books waiting to be read for the first time. So I've limited my library access to crochet books or reference. I am under firm instruction to read my own books and be merciless in determining whether they can stay or go. Some ground rules:
  • Books have 50 pages to get interesting. This is a flexible guideline; a mildly promising book can have a stay of execution for however many more pages if I feel it is warranted. The idea is that I am under no obligation to waste time on a book that is uninteresting, thereby freeing myself up to move on to the next book.
  • If the book is really, really, earth-shatteringly amazing, and I am absolutely certain I will re-read it at a later date, it can stay and join the ranks of "already read" books on my shelves. Neil Gaiman books, Douglas Adams books, favorites like Ender's Game--these all fall under this category. Many books do not.
  • Books can be disposed of in one of several ways: 1. Sold back to the used book store, 2. Passed on to interested friends, and 3. Bookcrossed. The point is: they must go.
Like many people with full pantries, I often fall guilty of the pitfall of staring at full shelves and whining that there's nothing to devour. And yet, if I stare long enough and shift around the piles of overflow books, I can usually rustle up something. Most recently:

The King of Elfland's Daughter, Lord Dunsany - A classic work of high fantasy. I didn't exactly like this book and didn't really connect with many of the characters, and I was not a fan of his often flowery language. Yet somehow, it interested me enough to finish reading it to the inevitable happily ever after.

Survivor, Chuck Palahniuk - I did not like the two previous Palahniuk books I read-- Fight Club and Lullaby. They were too over the top and laden with shock for shock's effect. This one was a bit toned down--but no less satirical and scathing in its criticism of our culture. I wouldn't re-read this one, nor would I call it a favorite, but I actually enjoyed it. He spared our celebrity-obsessed culture no mercy.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie - Bittersweet little read of a book. One of many volumes that extoll the joys of reading and its power to transport us to other places.

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year
, Anne Lamott - Plowed through this one in a few hours of insomnia last night. It captures the ups and downs of the first year of parenthood in a refreshingly honest way--sometimes she outright resents the squalling kidlet, and other times he's this amazing creature that she can't imagine her life without.

Yes, that is a rather odd assortment to come from the same bookshelf, much less to read back-to-back, but eh. I'm eclectic.

Now playing: Tunng - King
via FoxyTunes

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