Life As a Reading Challenge, Chapter 16
My friend Bob says that the most ridiculous question he is asked when someone sees his personal library is, "Did you really read all those books?" And he likes to point out that no one ever looks at someone else's huge collection of records or DVDs and asks something similar. But it has been a while since I have been able to roll my eyes at gobsmacked non-readers, because a significant number of the books I own are in what book bloggers like to call the "To-Be-Read pile." (This may be an example of life imitating Goodreads.) So, no, I haven't read all of those.
Well, all that's going to end this year and I'm going to earn my bookworm badge back, because I've finally thought of my word for 2015 . . . CLEAR.
As opposed to CLUTTER
Yes, those are all the books I've accumulated but have not read since I started this blog--which is still officially, shockingly a book blog. They were arranged in random order (except for those that are part of the same series) for their big photo, but we can group them into proper categories. (Click on the images if you want to read the titles better.)
Many of them are there because they're part of series that I started, liked, and committed myself to finishing. They were also likely available at a discount, which justified getting, say, #10 now, despite only being on #3 and not knowing when I'd get to #4. The BSC books are the most frustrating, because I have #s 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 . . . but not #14. On the other hand, I have no excuse for Alex Rider #5; I just want to tackle it after rereading #s 1 to 4, and I've been putting that off. =P
A few of them are there because of some old reading challenges that I gave up on one or two books in (So typical) . . . so it's only right that they should get another chance in a new challenge. I actually tried starting Bram Stoker's Dracula in 2011, but couldn't stay focussed. Last year, I suggested for the "Two or Three" Book Club, but it lost to Frankenstein. Maybe 2015 will be its year at last . . . but not until October, because I like to give the "Two or Three" Book Club winners a whole year of triumph before I get to the titles that they defeated. (I have all sorts of fun reading rules for myself.)
Then there are the giveaway prizes. Sometimes you enter for the fun of it (and because you've experienced being a host who is a little sad about low numbers) but aren't really panting to read the prize . . . and then you win anyway.
A few are gifts from relatives and friends--and I count the titles that they hadn't planned to give to me. (When you no longer want your books and are giving them away, bags I get first pick, all right?) This pile may get even bigger next week, when a close friend's boyfriend, who is downsizing, throws his packing party: he has already hinted that he has some old books that would be perfect for me. =P
And finally, there are the random personal indulgences. =) Quite a number of those I bought with the intention of reading them with my brothers, but the boys outgrew our readalongs faster than I did and I've been feeling too sad about that to read them on my own. (Sentimentality is also a kind of clutter, aye?)
(5 March 2015)
(5 March 2015)
I surprised my friend's boyfriend by not taking home all the books that he had set aside from me, then surprised my friend by choosing two books that she never would have guessed I'd be interested in. Aside from the six pictured above, I accepted three German textbooks, which, for obvious reasons, aren't part of this challenge.
And how could I have forgotten the books that I keep in the office??? I moved these four there thinking that I'd get to them faster if I had to look at them all the time, but they've had as little luck as the rest of their friends in the TBR pile. I even started two of them, at separate times, but couldn't stay hooked. Two are from giveaways, one was a gift, and the last was originally part of another challenge.
* * * * *
Now here's the story behind the word and the challenge . . . My family and I have sold our roomy condominium and are going to move into a much smaller place. This means that my hundreds and hundreds of books will have to be put into storage for an indefinite time. It was a sad thought for a while, but after a friend of mine generously offered to let them stay in her spare bedroom--which is in a dry house, in a very safe part of town--I relaxed a little. Then the matter of deciding which books to pack up and which books to take along started to seem kind of fun.
Readers are usually asked what books they would take to a deserted island, but that's too extreme a metaphor for my family's new apartment. After we move, I won't be cut off from civilisation; I'll just be cut off from my other books. But I'll still be able to buy new books (which I will have to do in order to complete some series)--and if absolutely necessary, I can take a bus to my friend's house and grab an old one. So I'm not thinking of islands, but of cabins on a cruise ship. (What? The parallels hold.) And I'm envisioning one of those cruises that go around the world and take half the year to complete, though in my case, the "trip" will take much longer.
Now, if I ever went on a real cruise, I definitely wouldn't take so many books with me. (In my experience, vacations abroad are the worst time for reading because there are so many other things to see and to do!) Perhaps I need another metaphor, to underline my sense of purpose: instead of a cruise liner, how about a sailing ship taking me to a new home across an ocean? The more I read, the greater the distance I cover. And well, I do long for another sort of home than the one I am going to, so it will help to think of it as temporary.
* * * * *
CLEAR was also inspired by "clear the books"--a phrase I found among a bunch of finance-related expressions. I was originally looking for something that referred to paying off a credit bill, because what these books have given me is a lot of credit. For now I need to pay for every time I ever said, "Why, yes, I have read them all." =P
The original meaning of "clear the books" is to get rid of all bad assets--that is, anything that is supposed to be bringing in money but is actually losing it. Obviously, this is not the case for these literal books that I have challenged myself to read at last. Indeed, if we try to make this metaphor fit, the bad asset is I. LOL! But now I have not merely the rest of the year, but my entire time in my family's new apartment, to prove that I can deliver on my reading.
This is one reading challenge post you can bet I'll be referring back to again!
In the meantime . . . does anyone have any suggestions about which book to read first? LOL! Seriously, if you're the first person who reads this, pick a title and tell me why you think I should read it now, and if it's not out of order in a series, I'll start it this weekend! =D