I blame the movie Julie & Julia. Do you know how many times I’ve thought about cooking through every recipe in one of my 46 cookbooks? It messes with my all-or-nothing propensities. So many times, I’m browsing among the books and think: wouldn’t it be fun to read exclusively from this shelf until I’ve read everything?
The all-or-nothing system hasn’t been good to me. Because, you know, the nothing side hits the playground pavement with a bang and the all side is swaying, suspended in the air above the teeter-totter.
So I made a bargain. I eyed the shelves and did the math. What if? I whispered to myself. Stop! the other me warned. No, this is reasonable, I countered. What if I committed to reading one book from every shelf on the big white bookshelf? There are 30 shelves in total. Subtract three that hold CDs, Audio books, and DVDs. Subtract the one narrow shelf about which I can say, “I’ve read them all.”
26 books from my own shelves. That’s about half of the number of books I read in a year, so it allows room for the books in other rooms in my house, on my Kindle, or yet to be published.
I’m not going to decide which title on each shelf right now. I’m a bit schizophrenic in my reading. When I am mindful of how little time I have left on the earth, I determine to only read the best books. When I think about making room on the shelves, I read the book I want to read, but don’t think I’ll want to keep. And when I don’t want to work, I go for easy reading.
And I won’t shelve a new book, so I can say I read it off my shelves. Dirty pool!
So here’s a glance at my options:
There are two shelves of history. On the top shelf I’m inclined toward The Pity Of War: Explaining World War Ior The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill.
On the lower shelf, it’s an excruciating decision. McCullough’s book on the Brooklyn Bridge, Barbara Tuchman, Stephen Ambrose or Paul Johnson?
Oh, man. Several titles on these two shelves come highly recommended. The Widow of the Southis set in Franklin, TN. I want to read The Monuments Men before the movie comes out this year.
Two sets of Churchill to choose from: I’ve read A History of the English-Speaking Peoples and would like to re-read them. But Edmund Burke beguiles me. Three sets sit on the bottom shelf: 13 years of Cook’s Illustrated, a set of Dumas and a set of Dickens.
Short biographies, a collection of collections, and Willa Cather.
Small books with short stories and gorgeous books about Britain with watercolor plates.
Business and culture.
Classics. My husband and I are enjoying A Study in Scarlet, so we may well continue with more Conan Doyle. But I’ve never read Kimso I may choose Kipling.
Education and Witold Rybczynski.
I insist on reading one science book a year, weak as I am in science. I highly recommend Microbe Huntersand Longitudeif you need your science in narrative form. I think Lives of a Cellis calling my name.
Oh to have room to store my beloved Penguin collection upright! Whoever invented orange covers ought to be shot. I would love to read all those orange Trollopes so I can be done with them.
These two shelves are at the center of my collection. Deep. love.
More groups of authors that I love.
This shelf is a pass on my read-from-my-shelves project. Jan, Anne, and Mma.
More foodie books.
True story: it’s easier for me to read about various methods of eradicating dust bunnies than to bend over and pick up the dust bunny.
Books on writing and books on books. Pure deliciousness.
Children’s books, theology, travel and memoirs have their own bookcases. But they will have to get in line.
Intentional reading: the good life.
Hey! You with the eye for interior design? What would you recommend for the tops of my shelves? I’ve thought about framed photos (in matching frames) but I’m afraid they will make it too busy. Woven baskets? Eclectic collection of pottery/baskets? Empty? Your opinion is welcome.