A Bookish List
It’s cold and dark, and you’re firmly ensconced in front of the fire, wrapped tight by your favorite chair. The fire licks orange and hot at the madrone logs, popping with pitch, spewing embers. Your notebook rests on the side table, the cover worn thin. It beckons.
What to do?
I stumbled across the perfect thing to do: writing your very own 100 things about me as a reader list. What could be more fun?
The idea isn’t mine. I got it in an email from Anne Bogel who writes the Modern Mrs. Darcy website and hosts the What Should I Read Next? podcast. She got it from elementary school teachers in Alabama who find the exercise – 100 Things About Me As A Reader – helps young readers hone in on what they enjoy most. And, wouldn’t you know it? Enjoy most in elementary school reading parlance, correlates directly with more books checked out and more time spent reading.
I haven’t thought much about my reading habits and history yet, but I know a few things:
When I read a book, especially a non-fiction book – I’m reading The Planet in a Pebble now – I am a finisher. All the way to the end. But, if it’s a book I get for pure entertainment, and especially if it’s fiction? I give it about ten pages. If it doesn’t grab me by then, I’m on to other things. Notable deviations from this are Unberto Eco’s books and anything Russian. My GoodReads TBR list is 2500 books long and there are just too many books that interest me to plod through those that don’t.
I notice, too, that as I write more, I see things in books: misspellings, awkward sentences…writerly things. I forgive the writer for these missteps in the same way I wish to be forgiven. It’s a tough world out there, writing 100,000 coherent words under a single heading.
When I was a kid, I read anything I could get my hands on about The Happy Hollisters.
Weirdly, years ago, when I was hardly eighteen, I bought Wayne Dyer’s first book Your Erroneous Zones in the University bookstore. I bought it, making sure to avoid eye contact with the good looking girl working the register, to unlock secrets that would surely make me famous. Back in my dorm, I read a few pages and wondered what in the world he was writing about? I looked at the cover again and moaned. Your Erroneous Zones and NOT Your Erogenous Zones. Probably good for the girls on campus. Disappointed, I read the book anyway and learned skills I still use: wondering about self-attached labels and how to question everything.
So, I recommend that on a cold night, armed with your favorite pen and notebook, you delve back into your history with books. What did you love as a kid? Why? What was the first book you read? The last? What was the most influential? (Mine was A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken). Take your time. Take an hour or a week. And as you write, you’ll think of other books you want to read or topics you want to explore. Note those, too, as a springboard for more reading, more thinking, and for growing your Goodreads List.