Spent most of my staycation on a virtual road trip. In my library, I have a Morris chair, (one of my favorite places on earth). Reposed, I perambulate via my reading shelf: a physical “currently reading” collection of books much akin to the book bag one hauls to the beach while actually vacating on a vacation.
I’ve discovered that once you have a certain amount of books in your library you lose books you wanted to read. It’s a delightful surprise on one hand, to rediscover a book you purchased, but it grows irksome. Hovering above you is father time, his grim reaper and hourglass raised, taunting: you shall never read all the books you wish to read. (Joseph Epstein stated it best, “I myself would rather be well-read than dead, but I have a strong hunch about which will come first.”)
This makes ones reading selection a meticulous process.
I have more than one reading shelf. I have a physical reading shelf and a virtual reading shelf. My virtual reading shelves are digital shelves on my iPad (iBooks and Kindle apps, respectively). Arranging my reading shelves means I’ll spend less time over the next few months wondering what I should read next and more time at the serious business of reading. In the digital age, this is also a bulwark against the violent tide of social media, news articles and videos that threaten a hostile takeover of your reading intentions (a mind’s death by a thousand cuts).
A few examples of books from both shelves, first physical:
- The Man Made of Words / N. Scott Momaday
- Maugham’s Choice of Kiplings Best
- The Government of the Tongue / Seamus Heaney
- Mozart and Leadbelly / Ernest J. Gaines
- In Fact: The Best of Creative Non-Fiction / Lee Gutkind
- Speak, Memory / Vladimir Nabokov
- Rework / Jason Fried & Heinemeier Hansson
- Essays in the Art of Writing / Robert Louis Stevenson
- Intentions / Oscar Wilde
Arranging ones reading shelves is the ancient equivalent of digital ADD. Instead of being distracted by your digital milieu, you can be abstracted by your corporeality. I’m learning: a planned interruption is far more productive.
“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” - Ray Bradbury