Read it NOW…

Books on the shelf

My theme for this year, I have decided, is ‘Do it now.’

No more thinking, “I really need to re-caulk the bathtub soon.” I get the tools and do it.

I am finishing all my moldering projects, writing letters long deferred, making those necessary calls, setting up my long-avoided appointments, and cleaning out my email inboxes, which hold archives from the 80’s, I swear.

And–I am going to read the books on my shelves. My son James and I finally organized the bookshelves; the books are now in loose alphabetical order by author. As we worked, I realized how many of these volumes are waiting for me. I have promised them my ‘soon’ attention, after picking them up at used bookshops and buck-a-bag library book sales, with gift cards at the Big Book Store, with delight in finding something long sought on Amazon.com. I stack them neatly; I promise myself I will read them JUST AS SOON as I finish my library books. I will NOT, I tell myself sternly, get any more library materials until I have read at least ten–or maybe five–well, two, anyway,–of my waiting books.

And I take James to the library, and while I am there I just take a look at the New Books section and discover to my surprise that Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things is on the shelf–I can’t believe that’s not buried deep in reserve requests!– and I grab it…and oh my,…Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life; oh, and wait, The Rosie Project. My gosh.

My canvas shopping bag is bulging by the time I get home, and library books demand precedence; they have due dates; people are waiting on them. They usurp my owned books’ spaces; those sad, neglected volumes get woven into the shelved books. Dust gathers on their gilded page edgings.

But now that’s over—the time of reckoning has come. My owned books have my full attention. I am reading what’s been shelved.

I have a wealth of books waiting. There are Karen Armstrong’s histories of God and of myth, and there is Jon Kabat-Zinn on mindfulness. There are several Ruth Rendell mysteries, along with six or seven of Tony Hillerman’s. There’s a wonderful stack of Miss Read books, and there are volumes of Alexandra Stoddard, along with Neil Young’s autobiography, and some of Ruth Reichl’s cooking memoirs. There are random ‘one copies’; there are series inserts; there are thoughtful histories and creative non-fiction.

I get excited thinking about the books in wait, what they’ll say to me, and what I’ll learn. I look forward to what the authors have to tell, and I look forward to remembering why this particular book was so important that I bought it and I saved it, saved it till now, when I’m ready, for whatever reason, to peel back the layers and discover the treasures that lay in wait.

This blog will keep me honest. No sneaking to the library for just-out fiction fixes; I am sticking to my program. I am reading my patient books NOW.

The kitchen is cleaned; the laundry is sorted; except for the snapping of the fire, the house is quiet.

Let the reading begin.

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