I’d love to credit whichever blogger suggested the idea, but I’ve forgotten. My to-be-read pile is actually an entire shelf, plus three shelf-high stacks beside it. I love to buy books. I receive them as gifts. I collect them as souvenirs when I travel. I never feel guilty about it. Buying books is good for authors. Reading is good for my brain. While I will toss a shirt when it gets too worn, my books will be pried out of my cold dead hands.
But all that choice is overwhelming. I never know which one to start next. The blog post I read suggested a new strategy. Picking ten books. Reading them in order. Then picking the next ten books. One volume at a time, the books move from the overflow shelf onto the shelf of books I’ve read and enjoyed enough to keep. The others go into the book swap/ donate pile under the china cabinet.
To beat the rush for New Year’s resolutions, I’ve got my first ten piled up and ready to start. I’m attempting to stick with the plan, knowing full well I’ll have new temptations after Christmas.
1. Zelda by Nancy Milford: I’ve heard so many great reviews of this biography of Mrs. Fitzgerald.
2. Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) by Eileen Myles: I cheated a bit and flipped through the first few pages. Such rich language!
3. Collected Poems 1909- 1962 by T.S. Eliot: Eliot has been a favorite of mine since middle school. My mom treated me to this lovely hardcover as an early birthday gift.
4. The Journals of Sylvia Plath: I picked up a vintage copy at a rare books store with a huge poetry section. The unabridged version has since been released, but I feel like Ms. Plath deserves a little polite privacy.
5. Art and Madness: A Memoir of Lust Without Reason by Anne Roiphe: I mysteriously received a review copy from the publisher without requesting one. I started it and then got distracted by too many other books around, but was enjoying it. The Lady’s mother mentioned wanting to read it when I finished, so I have an incentive to wrap this one up.
6. The Last Madam: a Life in the New Orleans Underworld by Christine Wiltz: a souvenir of my last trip to New Orleans, purchased at the adorable Maple Street Book Shop.
7. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp: adding more “making” to my days is on my 2012 agenda. I’ve been a little more office drone than maker lately.
8. Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston: I will read anything about voodoo. Anything. Somehow I have missed this non-fiction classic.
9. Touch by Alexi Zentner: I bought this the day it came out and have been looking forward to it ever since, wistfully, while it lingered mid-shelf.
10. The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser: (reread) This little book was so chock full of useful pointers that I couldn’t absorb them all on the first read-through. I like to pick it up every few months as my pocket writing course.
I’m not promising that the list won’t get re-arranged after the Christmas gifts roll in or if any urgent review copies come around, but for now that to-be-read pile seems so much more manageable.