Of My Habitual Bookshelf

Book shelf

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My books are organized alphabetically – by title. Many book lovers I know take the time to arrange their books by genre, then by authors last name, and lastly by title. I’m not a library, there’s no need for me to so intricately categorize my books. When I’m in a literature mood I don’t browse based off genre, I think of the book I want and find it with ease. It didn’t occur to me until tonight that my bookshelf might be functioning as a hindrance to my reading life.

For you see, I’m a creature of habit, as many are. I order the same coffee almost everyday (double, 12oz, vanilla, latte, hot). I always go to the same restaurants and when I do I order the same food (I know it’s good, if I’m feeling adventurous I’ll take a bite of someone else’s food, my choice is a guaranteed success). I watch the same style of movie or TV show. I walk the same trails with my friends. I even play the same songs on the piano. I’m highly predictable – makes it easy to buy presents for me.

Tonight I was in a reading mood, so naturally I went to my bookshelf. It’s remarkable how many of my books I’ve never even read a page of, and I’d say half of the one’s that I have read were never finished. In theory, my unread bookshelf should give me a lot of options when picking out a book. But as I stared at the titles I kept flicking my eyes towards my favorites. Skimming over the titles that I really should read, since I own them, and pausing upon books that I have read multiple times. It took a lot of restraint to not grab The Giver by Lois Lowry for the fourteenth time and choose a new book. Well, new to me anyways.

Thanks to my self-control (and trust me, it was mentally tiring) I picked up White Oleander by Janet Fitch, a book that I’ve been meaning to read for years – and no, I’ve never seen the movie. Starting tonight I shall read this book I’ve never read, and who knows, someday I might be able to say I’ve read every book I own. Nah, probably not, I’ll shoot for 50%.

Maybe when my lease is up, and I’m once again forced to relocate my library, I’ll try a new method of organizing. Force myself to say, “I should read a fantasy novel,” and sift through that section. Instead of, “I’m going to read Looking for Alaska (by John Green) or Me Talk Pretty One Day (by David Sedaris) …. again.” 

And perhaps it doesn’t matter. Odds are, no matter what I do, I’ll still fall into the same habitual tendencies.

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