Mission

Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Coffee

Surrounded by Books

It is a beautiful day in coastal South Carolina; a perfect day for the beach. That's probably where most of my new neighbors are right now. We are getting settled in to our new apartment little by little; my world is still dominated by books. We still have far more books than we have places to put them: more trips to Goodwill are in my future. My desire for simplicity (and an easier move next time) seems to be in direct conflict with my equal desire to acquire and read books. Therefore, I am still surrounded by piles and crates and boxes of books. This week I'll work on exercising some discipline and culling those book piles.

The Big Test
This coming week at school is the week of the "big test"--that standardized test by which we all live, die, and are evaluated. It's the test students must pass to get a diploma in South Carolina, the test that determines whether our school makes AYP, the test whose results will be used to judge teachers, students, administrators, schools, and districts. Not that there's any pressure or anything. Then next weekend is prom, then comes the swift advance of activities that mark the end of the school year. We are in the last quarter of the year, and yes, time does move more swiftly now.

My Reading Life
Now that we've finished moving I'm hoping to settle into a more focused reading life. I have a pretty imposing stack of books I've already agreed to review, and another stack of books that I simply want to read. Plus, there are the books I've recently read but haven't yet reviewed (including two wonderful short story collections, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black, and The Ornithologists Guide to Life by Ann Hood). I need to read more short story collections, and this is going to be one of my criteria for keeping or giving away books. I have to focus on quality, not quantity; the books I'm keeping will be books on writing, short story collections, classics, and the best new literary fiction. That still sounds like a pretty big list doesn't it? Yeah, well, I'm a work in progress.

Another routine I need to get back to is reading and commenting on my favorite blogs. This weekend I've been reading some of the posts for Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon. It seems that every time this event takes place something is happening in my life. One of these days....It does look like fun.

In my packing and unpacking I did come across a couple of long-lost or long-forgotten books that I have unearthed and moved to the top of my TBR pile. One such book is To a Distant Island by James McConkey. To a Distant Island tells the story of Anton Chekhov's journey to Sakhalin, and island penal colony, during a time when Chekhov was suffering from a depression so severe he was near a breakdown. That is a pretty intriguing premise, and since I love all things Chekhov, I intend to start this book soon.

Gentle Readers, have you grappled with the demon of acquisition? How do you decide what to keep and what to let go? Do you have some organizing principal behind your book collection? Or are you like me, somewhat afraid you will someday be found under a mountain of toppled books?


9 comments:

Short Story Slore said...

I live in a partial studio, so I am definitely limited in my acquisition of books. I keep my absolute favorites, giveaway the rest, or loan them out to fellow readers never to be seen again. It pains me to part with them, but I rarely go back to them once I've read them unless I want to loan them out or reread. And with all of the books I have on my list, my rereads will probably occur once I retire :) Good luck getting through those tests!

Sam said...

I moved a week ago. I should have space for my books, but only because we've moved to a bigger house. However I'm still painting and waiting for bookshelves to be delivered so like you, books are everywhere you look at the moment!

Felicia said...

We've been in our current apartment for almost 4 years and I still have books in storage that I have no room for, can't bear to go through them just yet. One day I hope to have a home with lots of room for books.

We are in practice test mode for our state test which is the week of May 12th. I'm worried about some of my kids already.The school year is almost over.

Kate said...

Good luck on those tests. We have something similar here in MA. I don't like them very much. I feel like everyone's teaching to the test - and it makes life hard for those of us teaching subjects NOT on the test (music!). Funds for us are not top priority.

I don't have a huge book collection - two bookcases. My ereader has helped with that, but it's mostly because I don't buy unless I have a gift card, or see it for very cheap!

bibliophiliac said...

@Short Story Slore-Living in a small space definitely makes it imperative to keep it simple...
@Sam--my problem always was that as soon as one bookcase was filled I was starting to look for another!

bibliophiliac said...

@Felicia-Books do furnish a room! But it isn't good when you have to step over and around books to walk through the room ;). I'm worried about how some of my students will test also...

bibliophiliac said...

@Kate-we do teach to the test, no doubt about it. I wish we didn't. As for the arts-thank goodness we still have the arts electives, because they so enrich our students' lives.

Betty said...

I'm not a good role model on book ownership, but as I divest I think I will be keeping reference, hard-to-find books, my TBR pile, poetry. Classics can be found in any library, so unless I am absolutely in love, can't keep 'em.

bibliophiliac said...

@Betty-that's very practical, and I hadn't thought of it that way, but you are right, the classics are easily available in libraries.