25 November 2018

A Life Lived in Books

I just finished the book "I'd Rather Be Reading," by Anne Bogel. It was a QUICK read, but I enjoyed it. She writes a blog and has a podcast focused on reading, and this was a memoir-ish retrospective about reading and the reading life. I liked it, and it made me think about my journey as a reader. This would be much better as a thought-out, drafted and edited piece, but this can just be my initial, quick reactions because NaBloPoMo content doesn't write itself, you know?!

For one, I was SUPER jealous that for a time she lived in a house next door to a library. What a great real estate perk! I am an avid library user, but as time goes on I mainly do my reading on my Kindle. So in a way it's like the library is even closer since it's always in my house! For the girls' books of course we visit the library weekly, and we are on first-name basis with our librarians. We are working our way through the children's picture book section, and Jane is graduating to chapter books. But I'm realizing that all the series we loved with Jane (Elephant and Piggie, Biscuit, Fancy Nancy, Olivia, etc.) we need to revisit for Livia. And I get confused about which books we've read recently and which we read once-upon-a-time when Jane was Liv's age. Keeps things interesting!

Bogel had a chapter (they're really stand alone essays collected in a book, but they're all on the theme of reading and the reading life) about wishing she could see her library check out history. I agree that it would be a trip down memory lane. I have a Swiss cheese memory, as those close to me can attest, and I don't remember most of what I read I'm sure. But being able to see the title and date would bring at least some of the content and messages back to me. Of course there ARE books that stick (Ramona will forever be tied now to Jane's early elementary days, and I re-read Anne of Green Gables and ALL its sequels while I was pregnant with her), but being able to review my history back to childhood would be amazing.

I realize there are privacy concerns of course, and we don't ACTUALLY want libraries to keep that intel (because it could theoretically then be used against us in a court of law?!). Bogel recommends -- strongly recommends -- keeping track of what you read, and I do that via GoodReads. Since I do most of my reading on the Kindle I can just click a button (add to shelf or something like that) at the end of the book and it's auto-magically added to my GoodReads shelf on the correct date. I add any books that I read in hard copy manually to the site. I've got a few years of data this way, but I certainly don't have my reading logs from my 20s or childhood. It's probably the best that's lost to history?! I like the idea of a beautiful reading journal, but I would be less likely to fill it out (as both girls' hard copy baby books can attest!)

I have a whole slew of books to add to my To Be Read list, because Bogel wrote about some of her favorites or things that really touched her. Some things I had read (like Anne of Green Gables), but others were new recommendations that I'd like to check out.

One thing I just realized is anything I highlight in my Kindle shows up on GoodReads. Thankfully it's private/not shared with my friends on there, but that's great to know. I knew they were still available to me because I get a daily email from Readwise with a couple highlighted passages from books past. It's nice to unearth things that were important, and again I wish I had that data/info going back longer than just a couple years. Anyway, in the book I highlighted every book she mentioned that I wanted to read too, so that's an easy way to capture them.

Two baskets of Advent books
waiting for Dec. 1-24
One quote that I highlighted was that "taking those photos are a gift I give my future self," and I so believe that's true. (This was part of her argument for documenting what you read -- the parallels to taking photos to capture and re-remember events down the line.) I absolutely am on board with both those things, and I appreciate my past self's gifts very much.

One concrete - and very relevant - example isn't photos but books. Advent books wrapped for this season, which I did late last year when I was packing up the Christmas stuff before our sabbatical move. I wrapped 48 Christmas-themed books in tissue paper. One for each girl for each day of the Advent season.

Waiting is hard, but a good book ALWAYS makes the waiting go faster.

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