It Bears Repeating

I am in the process of reading The Biographical Dictionary of Film, The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore, and H.L. Mencken’s Collection of Quotations. I am also finishing my collection of Dresden books by Jim Butcher. I am up to Ghost Story which I started but was curious about something so I dipped into Cold Days and got caught up and read that one till late last night. This morning instead of going back to Ghost Story (I do like to read my books in chronological order for the flavour of the entire series) or even to Cold Days, I picked up ‘A Book of One’s Own – People and Their Diaries’ and started reading. Practically from the first page I had the overwhelming urge to underline things that spoke to me but I resisted. Finally I could stand it no longer and I got out a notepad and wrote a journal entry of my own. It was not about keeping a journal or a diary …though I do that. It was about books. I have to transcribe it because I hand wrote it. It needs a title.

In a large 3″ three ring binder, I have printed pages from a very old, DOS library program. In it was listed every book I ever read up till 1999. I am 70 years old and from the age of ten I have been keeping notebooks in which I put every book as I read it. I have been more faithful to this list than to any journal, diary or person in my life. I think it started when I discovered my love of reading, my desire to possess books, that library books have to be returned and I was poor and likely to remain that way (I was never an optimistic person and was proven right in the long run) and would never be able to afford a library like the one I was introduced to at eight years old in Hughie Graham’s home on Walmer Road in Toronto. It, in my memory, was a large room, slightly dark (the windows had heavy damask curtains), with a plush carpet, leather chairs, a large dark wood desk that matched the floor to ceiling bookcases that lined every wall except for the spaces for windows. The shelves were full but not colourfully. The books were orderly, similar in size, colour binding and all hardcovers. Hughie’s mother showed me this room filled with books, in a private residence, not long after a Huron Public School teacher had taken me, along with a crocodile of other children, on a long walk down Spadina to the huge Toronto Children’s Library where I had been introduced to the concept of borrowing books. I remember Curious George and Babar. I loved the day out of the classroom because I hated school and feared it and every day was filled with anxiety. I loved the experience of wandering rooms, surrounded by colourful covers, alone, solitary, choosing. I clutched my choices all the way home to the single, dank, spider and rat infested room in a dirty basement that I shared with my mother and my sister. We lived in poverty at the bottom of a rooming house on a street filled with homes owned by the families that lived in them. Houses filled with possessions that I could not even dream of ever having. So far away that I did not even have the concept of envy. For the first time I experienced reading as an escape from one sad place to one filled with so much more. I was hooked. In those days children had more freedom and I walked to the library alone every time I finished the books I was allowed to take out by individual librarians. The day Mrs. Graham introduced me to the concept of owning, collecting, having all these doors to somewhere else within my grasp and always at hand, was the day I knew my life long wish would be to have a library of my own. She let me borrow from the one long shelf at the bottom of one bookcase that contained children’s books, the only colourful section in the room. It was Alice in Wonderland. As a child, I never had enough to eat, my clothes were second hand, I had few toys but my grandmother one day asked what I wanted for my birthday and I said I wanted a book. That year, instead of underwear and socks or the shoes I needed, I received my first book. It was The Bobbsey Twins At The Sea Shore. In the years to follow, I received Polly French, Heidi, Black Beauty, The Brothers Grimm, Swiss Family Robinson, Five Little Pennies, Little Women, Little Men and Jo’s Boys..all plain but hardcover books. I was now on my way. I still headed south on Spadina every weekend to bring home as many books as I could convince the librarian to let me carry and my life pattern was being carved in stone. Books became my friends and companions, my substitute for contact with the people around me. I did not know the meaning of the word introvert and others convinced me I was weird. I did not need anything or anyone ever again as badly as I always needed my next book. I did all the normal things but always felt less engaged than those around me and always desperate to get back to the current book. From that home on Walmer, where I lived from ages 8 to 12, I have moved twenty times and each time the only truly important thing that went with me was my pile of books. Money and the lack of it meant that I bought cheap, second hand paperbacks but I was not a collector for appearance or value or prestige; I was a collector for content. Being possessive of what I read and hoping always to revisit or somehow obtain again those I had to return to the library, I wrote down every book I read in tiny, lined, black notebooks. Like Scrooge swimming in his vault, I would read over the list and see my progression. I reread books and in the beginning put asterisks beside the titles in the notebooks. I never put the date read (there was no room) and soon there was not enough room for extra asterisks either. Time came when I kept journals and diaries like this and each day I wrote what book I was reading. I never wrote precis or reviews and seldom commented on content or how I felt about the book. If I liked it, I wanted to own it so I could reread it. If I didn’t like it a note was put in the journal that the book was to be given away. Time came when there was enough money to buy as many cheap paperbacks as my heart desired and I no longer frequented the library. Libraries had become a place of stress… spoiled for choice and none of them keepers. Books stores were easier, I could feed my addiction and just walking out knowing I could keep what I held made bookstores less stressful. My obsession with owning books grew. My pattern had become established. I got a book…from the library or purchased and I read it. It was written in the notebook. If I loved it and wanted to reread it…I searched for a copy to buy if it was a library book…not always succeeding…this was fifty years before the internet brought me AbeBooks and access to world wide Second Hand Book stores at my finger tips. If a book was not going to be reread (and I always knew almost instantly) I compulsively read it to the end, put it in my notebook and returned it to the library or gave away my copy. I had learned after each move of my growing collection not to carry forward unloved books simply because I had them. This meant sometimes I made a mistake reading something too soon to appreciate it and having to buy it again later. To this day, I do not accept free books on the off chance I will read them. I always know if a book has a chance with me for at least one reading. People borrowed and did not return and I learned to refuse to loan my books to anyone at all. Once there was a little money, if a friend saw something in my library and wanted to borrow it, I would buy and give them their own copy rather than trust them with mine. Still, books were lost over time. Some I reread and decided not to keep, some just vanished in moves and other life disasters. I look at my shelves or my lists and I remember them and miss some of them and frequently try to replace them. Then there came that second to last move (the last being the one when they carry me out of here to someplace none of my books can follow) to a smaller place, alone at last with all my books. Well, not all, fully one third of them had to be disposed of or left behind and during the choosing many were lost that I miss horribly today. Suddenly, my list regained importance. I had long before bought library software that I loved trying to transfer the list to computer except the books were no longer in reading order and I had long since stopped using asterisks. Books were grouped by genre, by author and I printed it out for a binder and hand wrote in all new additions for a year and then entered them in the data base and reprinted fresh pages. Until 1999 when DOS was lost and the program no longer worked. I continued to enter the books by  hand  until the binder was a real mess and then I tried to find a replacement program but none were satisfactory (they had done what they always do…improved on perfection till they ruined it). In 2007, I turned to my Word Processor and went back to my beginnings just listing each book on a single line as I read it. A book might, therefore, appear in the list every year for ten years as I reread it that often. I also now dated my lists so I could see how many books I read each month. I did not mark them as keepers but started another list on which I put books read and given away. Then came Goodreads and another place to list my books with covers displayed which, since I was buying a lot of books for my Kindle because there was no point in giving away a third of my books due to lack of room and then buying new ones to pile on the floor, was a pleasure I was missing, especially since I adore the colourful covers on cosies. I faced the daunting task of putting all of the books from my binder into their database…I will never manage that but it is a pleasant occupation on a day when I am in the mood for nothing else. I joined my first challenge in 2015 to see how many books I read: it consumed my year. I was focused on the number. I managed to read 377 books for the year. I reached my goal of a book a day. I worried that a reread book should not count. I thought that rereading and putting it on the site made this list like my semi-temporary Word Processing list and not like my binder list. My binder list is huge – with no repeat titles. It does not show the number times I have read a book or books in my lifetime, it shows the individual books I have read…some of which I have read upwards of ten times. On one hand I don’t want my Goodreads collection filled with duplicate covers and titles but I do want the actual number of books I have read to be counted. It looks like I cannot have both. And then there is the final disappointment with Goodreads. Someone…actually several someones…lied on the challenge. One woman in Nova Scotia claimed to have read 1800 books in twelve months which I consider an impossibility. She was not even claiming comic books or three page pamphlets. She was not alone and the lie stands on the record with no demur. So, if it were a true competition for prizes and I, with my reasonable, possible number, might conceivably be eligible for fifth prize, I would lose because ten people cheated and the contest holders let it stand unchallenged. In a way this is a good thing because I still keep my list of books as I read them and I still add to my binder and on Goodreads I joined the 2016 challenge and am adding books as I read them. Periodically, I shall go in and delete all duplicates (which may or may not affect my challenge numbers but since it is already ruined for me it no longer matters) books and the Goodreads site will stand as another of my lists, another vault to swim in. I know that if I counted up all the books on my list for the binder and then tripled it…that would give me close to the number of books I have read in my life but it is not numbers that matter, it is names..titles that have connected with my life and filled my days.

Every journal, and I keep a bunch of different ones including Dreamwidth, WordPress, LiveJournal, DayTimer, Fat Secret, Tumblr, Pinterest and more, serves a different purpose and so it is that my book lists change and evolve and there are more of them each serving as a way for me to grasp, possess, hold onto a book I have read, a book I loved, a book I want to reread. I look at my library these days and I love it, am comforted by it. It is not Mrs. Graham’s library but I knew when I first saw hers and fell in love with it that it would never be mine. I built my own in a way her family never did. I gave my life to my library. Every book, I, personally, chose, paid for and read at least once. I know them all as Mrs. Graham did not know hers. They are my friends and I am never lonely or bored surrounded by all my friends.

For this reason I love writers and am in awe of them.

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Shredding My Past

I am going through the detritus of my life.  There are times in one’s life when death seems very close and I feel like a squirrel in fall, a sense of urgency and a need to prepare.  Wallowing in my past and finding it hard to let go.  As I sift through all the mind fodder I have accumulated in a long life of hoarding information that pleased me, I am conscious of the knowledge that there really is no point to sorting and shredding and keeping the choice bits.  There will be no one interested in a single line I have saved.  Every file will be thrown out as is, unread, and for that I feel sad.  I do not want company now..I am not lonely.  I feel no need to pin people down to share my interests.  But, in my heart, selfishly I imagine someone taking the time to pick through my treasures to somehow get to see me as I really was/am.  The truth is, going through my files, reading my journals and browsing all my bookcases is the only way because I live almost solely in my own head.  On paper I wear no masks.

SORTING THROUGH MY COMMONPLACE BOOK

A paper pack rat with files and files filled with tidbits from books, magazines, television shows.  Periodically I read through and see if my perspective has changed.  I am a magpie for words, phrases, one liners.   Today I read this handwritten, in pencil, note found in the Supplement to the Toronto Star….The City….page 4. Volume 2, Number 14 but it is not dated.  it was however written by Martin O’Malley.

When he goes into a library, he gets rattled.  The books rattle him, the librarians rattle him.  Acres of books overwhelm him.  Books I could never read in a lifetime.  But its more than the futility that overwhelms and inhibits.  Ribald advice from a colleague:  “Two things in life one must never do out of a sense of duty and one is read.”

That little piece spoke to me because I have never entered a library without feeling sick to my stomach, anxiety rises and my guts roil and suddenly I need to leave as quickly as I can.  I have never been able to relax and wander and spend a lot of time searching and choosing.  Overwhelmed by choice I cannot choose.  If I go in with a list and ignore everything that is not on the list…I can deal.  The other problem with libraries is my need to possess what I read.  If I read something and enjoy it, I want to read it again.  I want to own it.  I want it close at hand, available at a moment’s notice to read again.   I won’t go into what twigs my interest in a book but I have not joined Amazon Prime for lots of cheap or free books.  I don’t gather/collect books just because I can.  I do love it if I go to buy a book and find it is on sale or very cheap but I don’t buy books just  because it is part of a bunch offered for .99 cents.  I love looking at pictures of libraries.  The big fancy ones, the tiny personal ones but it has been years since I have entered one.

Journals like this are places for me to empty my mind and file away stuff I might like to revisit some day.  When I am writing, it is for myself alone.  I realize I am writing in a public space and yet since there is never a response or an interruption it feels private.  I was thinking yesterday about my tendency to babble on my computer.  On many of the sites people are begging for followers and get upset if no one interacts with them.  I realized at that moment that I am grateful not to be one of those.  I sometimes use these entries as memory aids and find myself going back and reading through something I wrote years ago.  Today was a perfect example.  I got on my scales and I am 180 pounds.  In my diet record book (a life time of yo yoing and it reads like a roller coaster) it says the last time I was 180 pounds it was on this day in 1991.  Twenty-four years ago…wow.  So I went to my 1991 journal and read about that year.   It was not a happy year.  I was forty-six and had been married six years and it was lousy and I was unhappy and so was my husband.  In two and a half years my mother would die and his son would come to live with us and the marriage would go on for another fourteen years.  Not all of them miserable years…time doesn’t work like that.  You have one good day to every two bad days.

There is just not enough time in life to do all the things the mind wants in every given day.   Yesterday I was reading a book in my Conant series.  It was well written and had a lot of good bits but it was hard to read and I wanted to put it aside.  Puppy mills.  I hate reading about animals in pain and suffering.  The author is not preachy but uses her books to try to fix some of society’s stupidities over animals and I like that and understand that but I cannot read about it for pleasure and that is what my reading is supposed to be…a pleasure.    I get so torn.  TV on briefly on Saturday and Blood Ties series by Tanya Huff was on and instantly I wanted to dig out my books and read the series.  I am currently on Season 7 of Buffy DVDs but haven’t watched in a week.  Was moving stuff from computer to Iconia and watched a Spuffy vid and instantly wanted to go and turn on DVD player and get back to Buffy.  I bought Fool’s Moon by Jim Butcher as an audio book read by Spike (James Marsters) and want to get to it right away but I am in the midst of a goal of finishing all the cosy mysteries I bought for my Kindle and refuse to be side tracked so that impulse is squashed.  I have my Dresden DVDs out and ready and on my list of things to do is reread all of the Dresden books and watch the series, right after I finish Buffy Season 7 and then Angel Season 5.

I watched a bunch of Spuffy vids yesterday and downloaded a large number of Mary Van Duesen’s wonderful vids and played them too.  I remembered a great vid entitled I Remember L.A. from S&H/UNSUB and tried to find it because the story by Tiger Tyger was just posted on line from the zine Lightning Strikes.  That is how I ended up watching so many vids…I could not find the one I wanted…it is on a disk in a box under bed and I had the impulse to get out all my music vids and put them in machine one by one.  So I downloaded the story to my computer and also put it on my Iconia ready to read and had the impulse to read it right then but I am not ready to get into Starsky & Hutch fandom right now.  I have a goal.   Then, while I had my machines connected, I went to X-Files and dug out a crossover series of stories Highlander/X-Files (Methos/Alex) and put them on Iconia and actually read two of the end ones that didn’t have Alex just to make sure I wasn’t missing him and the impulse to continue reading more X-Files stories right then was strong but I resisted.    My mind is a grasshopper frittering away the summer.  One or two of the vids I played were of The Professionals and I instantly wanted to read in that fandom and moved a couple favourite stories to my Iconia…Meg Lewtan’s Stage Fright and Camera Shy.   The Doctor Who vids had me wanting to put my Dr. Who DVDs in machine and watch Rose meet the ninth doctor.   I am always being pulled in a dozen directions and having to refuse to be drawn.  It is like craving sweets and forcing myself to ignore the craving and not grab the cookie.   I cannot understand people who say they are bored and don’t know what to do with themselves and need people around all the time…speaking of people who need people around all the time, I also watched Hunter S. Thompson documentary Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride and wanted to instantly go back and reread all his books that sit so lonely on the shelf or get Where the Buffalo Roam out and hope I still remember how to work the VCR.  That is another thing…..I still have a VCR but it has not been used in two years.  I have kept a number of tapes because they cannot be replaced in DVD format so it is necessary to keep the VCR.  Same thing with my desktop computer, I have a ton of CDs and when that computer dies…all that information, all those stories, vids, photos and brain fart collections will be unreachable.  Getting old is a bitch as you have to watch pieces of your life float away.

I am beginning to understand Lena’s life as each year brings more and more death into my life.  This has been a bad year for that kind of loss for me.  I’ve just gone through it again.  Andy died an unnecessary death in August and his dog was put to sleep the day after his funeral…I am sure that was necessary.   I have this friend, the first person I talked to after moving to Barrie.  She walked every morning and I used to take Beaugi to the boardwalk every morning and we would walk together and talk.  It was our only contact and when I stopped walking Beaugi we lost touch for a long time.  We met again by accident and exchanged numbers and promises and from then on I would call her before her birthday and we would meet for lunch and she would call me before mine and the same.  This year she did not call.  A month went by and I called her and found her phone was disconnected.  Instant anxiety.  This had happened before, I had an old friend Shirley that I had never met except by phone and she would send me a Christmas card every year and I would phone her at Christmas every year.  Then came the day I called and the phone was disconnected.  I checked on line for obituaries and there was none.  I checked on line for real estate and her house had been sold nine months before I called.  She lived so far away I could not go and knock on her neighbour’s door so I was left wondering.  She was old and in ill health so the assumption was…she died.  I mourned.  Again there was no obituary as this time I repeated the same steps and yes the house was sold last April.  This time I could drive to the house and knock on neighbour’s doors.  She sold and moved to Wasaga Beach.  Relief enormous.  Got her son’s phone number from neighbour and left message and she called me.  Move was stressful and busy and calling me slipped her mind.  She is well and happy…I am happy.  I have been telling all of my friends…please make sure someone in your family has a list of all the people who should be contacted in the event of your death and make sure I am on that bloody list.  Not all of us get the paper or religiously read the obituaries and, as I found recently, not every family puts an obituary in the paper and the internet is not that reliable.

Weatherman’s long range forecast says today will be the last hot muggy day of 2015, I should be out in the sun enjoying it.   This past week I took Ash-Leigh to beach and dropped her in the lake.  I got soaked as well and both of us required a shower after to get rid of the sand…a lot of work for a small moment of pleasure…the story of everyone’s life.  The following day I went to see general surgeon about a small cosmetic thing and it is covered by OHIP (happy dance) so an appointment was made to get the deed done.  Then I went swimming in apartment pool all by myself and used the hot tub…lovely.

Decks cleared, time to take dog out and get back to my Conant series.  Yesterday I caught part of 139th Westminster Dog show…connection to dog mysteries I am reading so there was some satisfaction in going from one to the other.

I have lost the ability to download/copy YouTube vids to my computer but found I can pin them to my Pinterest and access the vids on my Iconia so my favourites that I came across yesterday are stashed where I can find them again.  I am so very possessive of information of any kind.  Even if, because of time, I can never get back to something I enjoyed once…just knowing I have it accessible is almost as good as actually reading/viewing/eating/doing.  Life gets weird like that.  Spock said, having is not so good as wanting.   In my case, having is almost as good as using.

Compliments

I just realized something…like an epiphany.   I have always been uncomfortable with compliments (not that there have been an overwhelming number in my life) but I realized today that I do not believe them.  I totally discount when people pay compliments.  I judge myself.  I lost 68 pounds and when people congratulate me…I accept that as my due…they are not, after all, blind.  When they form a compliment…I accept it with reservations depending on how I view myself.  Reunion yesterday and showing off my new shape, it was nice that it was noticed because it was hard work.  However, no one noticed my new tattoo and it came to me that…if I point it out to someone they have to say nice things so the compliment is meaningless.  How can I believe the words since I actively solicited them and they have no choice but to say nice things.  In actual fact, aside from a moment at greeting and another at goodbye, I was the original invisible woman.  I sat mumchance practically the entire time listening to others.  Two of the ladies close to me spent a solid hour discussing golf…I had no input.  Several of the woman are teachers and the conversations concerned school buses and children riding same…I had no input.   It was not as if I did not look for openings to put my two cents worth in but I have no grand children, I do not golf, I am not still working/teaching, my husband is not dead, I do not travel and spend six months of the year at a timeshare, I have never been to the named stores in Florida and it has been twenty years since I have been on a cruise anywhere let alone Alaska.  So I sat and listened and ate.  When it came time for them to take photos, again I ended up at the back and disappeared behind someone wearing a big hat.   On the other hand, the weather was great, the people looked fantastic considering our age and none of us are in assisted living yet.  It was great to be back in the old neighbourhood.  If I had money I would like to rent a place in the area for a summer just to wander all the streets of my youth, go into all the stores and restaurants and boutiques on Queen Street, walk the beach, enjoy the plethora of old growth trees.  The area has grown trendy and very densely populated.  The cute stores and touristy attractions make the influx of summer visitors a nightmare for long term residents.  The cost of the housing is unreal and there are just too many people and, I imagine, a lot of frustration with traffic and parking and crowds.  We lived there in the best years during the 50s.   You can never really go home again but I would like to visit for a short while…alone to savour what is left of the area that I still remember so well.   It was a long drive made longer by a detour further east to pick up a relative but the view from the passenger window was great.  Drivers miss a lot.  Fasting today to make up for pig out yesterday…I think I will take a nap to kill time.

MORE WEIRDNESS THAT IS MY LIFE

Strange connections always seem to appear.

So, Kira called to tell me Andy died and I was so shocked I don’t remember the details very clearly. So I went on line to check how they determine time of death because he could have died any time between Sunday and yesterday or today (that part I missed when the cops broke down the door). I read about lividity and rigor and stuff like that. So then I went back to my book the final Dixie Hemingway and damned if within an hour I wasn’t reading about her finding a body in a pool of blood and the lividity of his bare legs. Now this is book number ten in the series and not one of the previous books mentioned lividity in any context. So it is another instance of the weirdness that is my life.

I wrote the above note to myself (I am beginning to keep track of these oddities).

I finished the Blaize Clement series and had planned on reading Laurien Berenson’s Melanie Travis series so I started that series yesterday before Kira called. I am now on book number two in the series and all of a sudden it hit me…Andy and his wife bred standard poodles and I had one of his black poodles (I named him Starsky). Starsky was originally named Booberry and his sister Baaad To The Bone had a kennel name of Razzberry. Razzberry went on to get in the record books as having three champion offspring. Andy and Shan used the kennel name Khairoh and I was doing online research on it today before I went back to my book and realized that this series is all about Peg who breeds black standard poodles and Melanie her niece who is learning to show a black standard female Faith. I was reading along about what is involved in showing a dog, the ribbons, the judges, the care for hair and it hit me…more weirdness of timing in my life.

I just went back into the notebook that tells me when to breathe (I stole that from Donna Andrews’ character Meg) and found this entry from July 21st. I was reading Virginia Lowell’s Cookie Cutter series and eating a cookie and thinking about the bucket of Tiffany coloured fondant I had in the cupboard. I have never baked a cookie in my life and when I got the first novel in this series it just so happened my neighbour gave me a cookie cutter for Christmas (a tiny weirdness)..it was attached, to some tea towels she was buying for me, as a decoration. Off my own bat months later I bought myself a poodle cookie cutter because I have a poodle and when I got a cat I got a cat cutter. They sat on my fridge and I was hoping my store would have Pillsbury sugar cookie dough that I could roll out and test my cutters on…there was no thought in my mind of actually making my own dough. Anyway, I was just wondering if I could roll out fondant and use cutters on it just to see what it would look like and so I tried it and it worked a treat. Not only that but I got to use my mother’s rolling pin that I have had in drawer since 1993 and never used. I then did research on line with question and learned there is such a thing as fondant cutters but it said you could use cookie cutters too…which I did. Then I got to the final book in the series Dead Men Don’t Eat Cookies and on page 13 – dead man with what looks like a cookie cutter necklace I found and one of the ladies says “it is even smaller than a fondant cutter”. This is book six in the series and this is the first mention of fondant or fondant cutters – not ten minutes after I did a search about fondant cutters. I have had that bucket of fondant for almost two years and my cookie cutters almost as long and this was the first time I connected them in my mind..of course I had been reading about cookie cutters and royal icing so the leap to doing something with my cookie cutters was not a leap but the rest of it….weirdness. I have so many instances of this…was it Jung who postulated the great unconsciousness in which we are all linked?

I have frequently joked that there are times I feel like my head is broadcasting and the world is picking my brain because as soon as I think of something…it appears on whatever I am reading or watching or listening to or someone mentions it.

MORE THOUGHTS ON BOOKS AND READING

I have never had a wide circle of friends and my family is not large. The friends that I made in my life, few of them were readers. Those that were readers never read the same books as me. I consider myself an eclectic reader. I drift from genre to genre, subject to subject on a whim or a mood. I love lists and book lists in particular. Over the course of my long life I have read most of the classics but never fell in love with them. People who rave about Jane Austen make me wonder about myself. In some ways I think that I have not read all of Jane Austen out of sheer stubbornness. I should have so I won’t…pout.

I recently read a book blog by another book crazy lady and went through her list of the books she had read in the last five years. My first reaction was …I am falling behind popular culture. So many books, so little time. Am I wasting my time on books that are not worthy? In 2015 I challenged myself to 250 books (which I shall soon increase to 300). Goodreads Challenge…I am up to 218 books. For sure this year I am reading quantity, not quality but I am also reading what comforts me these days. I no longer read books that challenge my mind, are considered ‘good’, are best sellers, are life affirming or any other reason for reading. I do not want my emotions shifted, my heart moved, my mind increased. Been there, done that. All my life I kept a binder in which I wrote the title of every book I ever read. The thing is massive because reading has always been the be all end all of my life. It is my addiction, my only true friend but that friend is not classy, overly intelligent, famous or ageless. He changes frequently from science fiction to fantasy to mysteries to romances, to biography. Books of quotations, books about reading, books about cooking (I who never cook…read cookbooks). Books of jokes and books of cartoons. I have to possess books; going to the library doesn’t suit me any more…though when I was a child it was my favourite place in the whole world. On Tumblr…pictures of book shelves and libraries are what hold my interest most. There are books I read almost yearly. I have books that I have read thirty times. Funny things can put me off, I read Lord of the Rings ten times before the movie came out and now cannot read it at all. I have had my Harlequin romance years (the early years before sex), my Barbara Cartland phase, Georgette Heyer. I did read a couple Jacqueline Susann books but no Jackie Collins. A few Harold Robbins back in the day. Patrick O’Brien series is wonderful but work so I read Dudley Pope’s Ramage or Alexander Kent’s Bolitho more often. I fall in love with writers….Harlan Ellison, Hunter S. Thompson, Truman Capote. There are writer’s whose lives are more interesting to me than their actual writing…like Virginia Woolf. I am set in my ways and time is short. It breaks my heart that there are so many books I might like to taste but don’t because time is limited and I would rather stick with my favourite ones. Still, I sometimes feel I am doing a disservice to my brain, that I am not reading up to my potential, that I am missing a lot of life. Then I listen to the news and realize…life is not what it is cracked up to be and I will continue to read stuff that doesn’t stir me to grief and tears or to nausea. In other words, reading lite…nothing too taxing. I go on binges in categories…one book leading to another as fast as I can buy and read. I do not write much on Tumblr, Dreamwidth and WordPress. I save photos on Pinterest. I have a Twitter account but do not tweet. I have a Facebook but seldom post anything…just look at what shows up on my feed. I am connected but not involved and that just about sums up my life in books I read but not much sticks. I have notebooks filled with quotes and lines that I fell in love with in books and feared I would forget or never come across again. I buy mostly paperbacks so I can underline and annotate. I can reread any of my books frequently…one of the side benefits of reading quickly and not absorbing. I love when a single line in one book or a name will send me to Google or to Amazon and off on a tangent to a new interest, a new series. I am not an adventurous reader…or at least I do not think I am. I am not that fussy about quality of writing. There are very few books in my life that I didn’t finish and of those only one I regret…Proust’s Remembrance. I think I grew too old to appreciate it and the last time I tried I realized there was no point. I am totally incapable of writing reviews of books I have read…I cannot break them down into what was good and what was bad or what was well written and what was not. I could recap with spoilers the entire thing but that is not a review. I have no discernable taste as far as I know. I have never read a book I hated or could not finish because it was awful. I also have seldom read a book I thought was absolutely fabulous. Books are either keepers or ones I know instantly I will never read again. When I am asked to rate books I am always ticked off that there are not enough stars. Often my feeling is 3 stars are too few and 4 stars are too many and my lack of discrimination makes me hesitant to ever use 5 stars. Books are like chocolate….even poor quality chocolate is great stuff.