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Archive for November, 2006

So I finished my inventory of books I own but have not yet read. Let me just say that the results are a little embarrasing not to mention a bit disturbing. But keep in mind that it has taken me a good eighteen years of hard core bookstore browsing to acquire such a collection.

The tally is as follows:

Novels: 174
Short Story collections: 119
Classics: 18 (plus the one I just bought, making it 19…yes, I actually wandered into a bookstore even after completing my inventory. I willingly and totally admit I have a problem. Is there such a thing as Bibliophiles Anonmyous?)
Memoir: 38
Non-fiction: 17

Making a grand total of 367.

That’s easily a year’s worth of reading and that is at a good clip. After reading a friend’s blog I realize that this challenge I have entered into has a name: From the Stacks. Quite appropriate.

The thing is- I love love love to read. People often ask me how I find time to read so much. Some have even said that they don’t read. Ever. Period. I look at them with a look of confusion as if they are speaking a foreign language. Not reading is like not breathing to me. I have always loved to read. My favorite in elementary school was a series based on triplets named Flicka, Ricka and Dicka. Lots of Norwegain phrases peppered throughout. My mom says I brought those same books home week after week after week. My cousin turned me onto my first adult books- Agatha Christie. Of course, I read all the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. Imagine how thrilled I was when my fourth grader chose to read Trixie Belden for her mystery book report.

I remember the first time I bought mulitple books at once. My husband I were at the mall at a Waldenbooks (this was before I discovered my soft spot for Indie bookstores) and I had five books in my hand and couldn’t decide which to get so I bought all of them. Five books at once although I knew I could only read one at a time. It felt so indulgent. Reckless somehow. If I had only known where it would lead.

As much as I enjoy reading, I also realize that I use books the way some people use food. To fill a hole of some kind. Usually it is the hole in my own writing. When I am writing and really in the groove I hardly read at all. When I am not writing, I gorge myself on other people’s words and end up feeling just as bloated and empty as if I had inhaled a gallon of ice cream.

Now that my books are listed, I feel ready to tackle my own From the Stacks challenge. I really do love crossing items off a list.

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Okay, I’ve become one of those bloggers that totally frustrate me. The ones that let days, weeks go by without a new post. Not that I’m kidding myself that I have a huge audience waiting with bated breath for a glimpse into my cluttered mind. But still. I started this blog as an incentive to keep myself accountable to my writing. I guess it would help if I actually held myself accountable to writing here too. So here I am. With good news. literarymama.com accepted my story. It should be posted on their website the second Wednesday in January. When I saw the email from them my heart kind of sank a little since it was supposed to take three months for a response. I figured an early response meant rejection. But I was happily surprised. And even more taken aback by the praise. Congratulating me on a wonderful story. After racking up close to 100 rejections, throughout this whole process of trying to get a story published I guess it escaped me that they would have to really love the piece to accept it. That they aren’t just humoring me by accepting it. So look for my story “You Are Here” in January. It started as a writing prompt at Farfield, a writing conference at Oakland University. It was a black and white photo of a indoor kitchen type chair sitting outside a house.

I’ve had several good library weeks in a row. For months it seemed nothing worth checking out was on the shelves. But then there was. First I read: “This Book Could Save Your Life” by A.M. Homes. When I returned that one (plus three others which for the life of me I can’t remember) I checked out: “Lost and Found” by Carolyn Parkhurst. I loved her first one in spite of the fact that the Today show picked it for their book club. But didn’t love her second one so much. It was incredibly predictable just like the reality show she based the novel around called “Lost and Found”. I didn’t care about the characters. And what I expected to happen, did. No surprises except at how disappointed I was. Next in line is “After This” by Alice McDermott. Only a few pages in but no disappointment so far. Then it’s on to a new collection of stories by Dennis Lehane. There’s just something so satisfying about a good library day. I walk in expecting nothing and come out with an armful of (hopefully) great books- for free. It makes me feel like my stars are all in alignment and anything is possible.

Oh, and here’s my latest project. It’s crazy but I’m doing it anyway. I am making lists, according to genre of all the books I own but have not read yet. You writers and bibliophiles out there know what I mean. That urge to scour bookstores, scoring used and new books that end up in piles stacked next to the bed, the couch, end table, coffee tables- it’s well, is addictive too strong a word? I do feel a certain thrill when I leave a store, a bagful of new books to read. Unfortunately my input far exceeds my output and we have crammed as many bookshelves as we can into this house of ours so I am on a mission to read the books I already own. Radical, I know. I do have some books on my Christmas list so if I receive them as gifts I have to accept them, right? I had my last binge at a book warehouse that is going out of business so the already low prices were marked down forty percent. I ended up getting 2 bags of books for fifty bucks. That felt good. But there are times when I wander into a bookstore and it doesn’t feel good because i know I have no business buying any more books. Then the guilt creeps in when I succumb and they end up in a pile in the corner of the house, unread and who wants guilt with their reading?

So I am making lists of novels, short story collections, classics, memoirs and non-fiction and it will bring immense satisfaction to start crossing off titles one by one as I finish them.

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