My current stack of books to read, in the process of being read, or finished within the last month or so, which does not include the ones on my iPad, is daunting. I lack all discipline when it comes to restraining myself from purchasing or borrowing new titles. I devour books, eager to find connections, to follow threads of interest, to seek a particular story line. I keep lists of books read, notes of prominent passages, words to remember as I go through this life, happy to learn of a favorite book from a friend, what inspired her to read it or to recommend it to me.
Family members send me books via media mail. My sons email me the latest titles from well-loved authors (e.g., Marilynne Robinson’s “Lila,” Ian McEwan’s “The Children Act”). Book club members suggest another Russian novel (this time “The Brothers Karamazov,” after tackling “Anna Karenina” and “War and Peace”, during our Tolstoy phase) or light fiction for the summer months. I scour the National Book Awards, the Booker finalists, Pultizer Price winning novelists, and other well-known sources for the latest in literary works of excellence.
My husband’s penchant for nutrition and health-related books flood our Kindle account. We share these titles with our niece who is getting her Ph.D. in nutritional science, e.g., “Paleo Manifesto”. My younger son’s book club explores books, e.g., “Dinosaur in a Haystack,” that I might not otherwise encounter. Another friend recommended “Bloodlands,” knowing my desire to understand better the Russian/German engagement during World War II (e.g., “The Siege of Leningrad”).
I am taking my first, MOOC, Giving 2.0, which leads my current reading toward philanthropy and social change, e.g., “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunities” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn,” along with “Giving 2.0” by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, the course instructor. As I read these books I am pointed to other philanthropists and writers on social change and innovation, in addition to favorites like Paul Farmer and Jeffrey Sachs.
The supply is endless; the reader eager; my eyes perhaps larger than my ability to squeeze all the books into a reasonable time frame. That’s the beauty of books, though. We can savor them at our own pace; we can rearrange the order in which they are read; we can decide whether a book is worthy of our time, to finish it or move on to another one. And then, we may reread those special books that grab hold of us at various times of our lives, to recapture moments evoked by well-placed words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters.