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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Of Piles and Piles of Books

Girl Reading in the Woods

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I need to read more. They say that the more you read, the better you write. I’ve always said that a cliché’s a cliché for a reason. Let’s get reading …

I have a pile of books by my bed on my Read Now Bitch list, and even more on my book shelf. Last week I got three new books from a free books shelf, and I have an ever-growing list of books I want to buy. Yet, I have no time to read these stories. I am partially into The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Most books that I start I WILL finish. Even if I think the book is simply dreadful like Rose of No Man’s Land by Michelle Tea. Warning, spoilers: young girl named Trisha gets a job, loses job, meets a girl named Rose, Rose throws her gross tampon at a guy (I swear these girls never bathe or do anything remotely hygienic), they do a lot of drugs (a lot), drink a lot, steal, Trisha has sex with Rose, then gets a tattoo, Trisha figures out that she’s a lesbian, Rose says she’s straight, this angers Trisha, they part and go back home, Trisha’s sister lost her Real World Audition tapes, The End. The whole thing is written with intense teenage angst and bizarre dialogue formatting, but damn it, I finished the book.

Then there’s a couple that I have never made it past the first thirty – fifty pages. Some of those are considered classics: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Other’s are books that looked interesting and were on either a best seller list or employee picks section: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

Still, I need to read more. I need to finish every book I own no matter how nauseating it is. And if I can’t bear the sight of it after completing said book(s) I will donate it(them) to some other person who may in fact love the story. I am not so cocky as to say that my opinion is the best, but I do have high standards. Often I think it’s more fun talking about or buying a book than actually reading one.

However, when a book comes along that defies that norm, it’s something amazing. And my Books I’m Ecstatic Came Into My Life That I Need to Own and Lend to Everyone I Know is much longer than my hate list: Looking For Alaska by John Green, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella.

I could write lists of books I love, hate, and want for hours.