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?