it's my blog and I'll write what I damn please

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And another... more reading!




I found this reading challenge--What's in a Name--via the nyrb books blog. Just what I need, another diversion. And yet, another diversion! And it helps me with my goal of actually reading the books I have in my house.

Here are my books (with the # of years owned + not read):
1. Color - Purple America, Rick Moody (11 years)
2. Animal - Who Will Run the Frog Hospital, Lorrie Moore (4 years)
3. First name - The Dick Gibson Show, Stanley Elkin (3 years)
4. Place - Europe Central, William Vollman (2 years)
5. Weather Event - Snow, Orhan Pamuk (3 years)
6. Plant - In the Beauty of the Lillies, John Updike (13 years)

6 comments:

Blight said...

First of all: It is literally awesome that you know how long you've had each book. I kind of want to know how you keep track, but mostly want to believe that you're a savant of material possessions.

Second, this inspired me to scour my own shelves of unread books for my own challenge that I will not meet:

1. Color - Brown's Requiem, James Ellroy
2. Animal - Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace
3. First name - Jack Cole & Plastic Man, Art Spiegelman & Chip Kidd
4. Place - Up Above the World, Paul Bowles
5. Weather Event - Rainbow's End, Vernor Vinge (I almost certainly won't get to this in 2008, given my arbitrary yet inflexible system for choosing my readings.)
6. Plant - Tea from an Empty Cup, Pat Cadigan

heidib said...

Awesome... I'm happy to know that you won't meet the challenge (although, you probably will). I, unfortunately, am unable to not meet challenges, especially when they are arbitrary and do nothing to bring me closer to my career or life goals.

Can I borrow the DFW when you're done? Oh yeah, that's right. I've already had a DFW of yours for over a year that I haven't finished.

And, re: book history. I weirdly remember the history of about 90-95 percent of my books. Once in a while I find a forgotten one that I must have picked up at a library book sale with 20 others, but that doesn't happen very often. I did have to look up the publication date for Lillies (I bought it right when it came out b/c of a dual obsession with Updike and getting first editions. The pricier of these obsessions didn't last very long. Neither did the Updike one, though it could be revived. We'll see.)

Please tell me about the arbitrary yet inflexible system.

alight said...

I have a dumb variation on not meeting this challenge, because I re-read a few other books a freakish amount of times and have successfully ignored these two for at least two years (And I think of my reading years as dog years, so that counts for like two decades):
1. Red Emma Speaks
2. The Iliad (which sort of counts, since it means "Poem about Troy".)
It's sort of like watching cheesy TV reruns while having a Netflix DVD of an acclaimed Swedish movie in the house. I have begun to hate these books a little.
The part of blight's system I know about involves reading five books at a time. There's more?

Blight said...

You may certainly borrow the DFW, even if the other one lies unread somewhere in the waiting-for-shelves pile. I'd forgotten about it, actually...

The system. Hoo boy. Jill was close: I read two non-fiction and four fiction titles concurrently, plus any books I've borrowed or received as gifts (which means I'm currently working on 10-12 until the Xmas madness settles down - this is the part of the system most likely to get axed, as it is way beyond silly to work on that many at once.)

But wait, there's more! I've got all my unread books separated into fiction and non-fiction, alphabetized by author and in order of publication date if I have multiples from a given author. When I finish a book, I take the next one off the shelf and move any by the same author to the end of the queue - unless I'm working on a series (like Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle) that I don't want to break up over time. As I get new books, I just slide them in alphabetically.

This system, which has been entirely unwritten and unspoken up until now, satisfies the OCD/Asperger's side of me tremendously, but it often means I don't get to books I really want to read for quite some time, which is patently stupid. It does force me to read books that I would otherwise put off forever, but it also makes me much less patient with them: I often start one and decide it's not worth pursuing pretty quickly and then move on to something I know I'll like.

Am I still writing? Am I this ridiculous? Yes to both, but while the writing has to end somewhere, the ridiculousness just goes on and on.

heidib said...

omg (that's gol, or gosh)...I need you to organize my current reading, which is, at any given time, approximately... 2 to 3 poetry books, a book of essays, 2 to 3 philosophy books, a novel, an occasional book of short stories and/or lit. mag, and library books (ranging from 3 to 12, many of which never get read or only get read a little). My organizational system: leave them in little piles around the house so I have something to read in every room. Works for me, but pity anyone who has to live with me.

I wanna read Red Emma Speaks, or at least keep it in the pile on my coffee table for a couple of months. I'll add it to my library list. It will complement my unread copy of 10 Days that Shook the World. (I did read Six Red Months in Russia a couple of times... love that intrepid girl correspondent voice.)

Blight said...

OMG indeed. Don't let me near your books, seriously - how many years did I spend sorting and shelving for UW libraries? Too many. But that activity is inhumanly satisfying to me - I could happily do it full-time, if anyone could pay me anywhere near enough to support my sybaritic antics. It really is all scratch and no itch. Perpetual satisfaction. Oh god, TMI?

And hey, I mentioned this to Jill today in person, so I'll share it with you and everyone else out here: It gets worse. What I didn't mention previously is that I cycle through all the books I'm working on in a relatively inflexible order, as close to 50 pages at a time as I can get within the constraints of chapter lengths.

So yes, I am an automaton, but (a) I still derive pleasure from reading (though I can't imagine how, after rereading all this) and (b) I read more books that I would have blown off indefinitely under the anarchic tyranny of "free will."