"Not long ago I had an unsettling epiphany that probably shouldn't have come as a surprise but nevertheless left me disheartened for the better part of an afternoon.
I won't get to all the books I want to read in my lifetime. "
By popular demand--Jane asked and Melanie seconded and they're both pretty popular in my book--and because I was too pressed for time this week to do a traditional review, I have decided to devote this week's review space to a tour of my current To-Read Notebooks. (Yes, plural.)
First, like many writerly type folks, I'm a bit of an office supply fetishist, drawn to that aisle in almost every store--and don't even get me started on what happens when I'm in Staples. Sometimes, I will buy something just because I can't not buy it, even though I haven't yet figured out what I might "need" (or even use) it for. The very first To-Read notebook was like that. I liked it so much, I kept the cover even after the rest of the notebook was retired:
|This is the cart that came before the horse.|
I bought it because it had an adorable toddler and a Chekhov quote on the cover (cute and smart!), but I carried it around for quite a while before I figured out what to do with it. And what I finally did was take notes--mostly on books I want to read, songs I want to download, websites I want to check out, but also various observations of the world around me that I may use elsewhere some day.
Notice the rubber band. This is my fourth rubber band in the twelve years I've been keeping To-Read notebooks. It's not as easy finding the perfect rubber band as you might think. And it's probably not as easy being the perfect rubber band as you might think either. This is the end view of what-all that rubber band is keeping together:
Several of the little notebooks that have served time with me have come with a little pocket just inside the cover. Three of the four in my current stack have this handy little pocket, but for some reason, I cram a decade's worth of loose notes and clippings, written and collected in those relatively rare moments when the notebooks are out of reach, into the single pocket of the top notebook:
|Removing that rubber band is kind of like loosening the belt after Thanksgiving dinner.|
Emptying out that pocket makes me feel a little like an archaeologist--layer upon layer of hieroglyphic scraps that were important to someone at some point, but I can't always figure out why or even to whom. Yet I've been transferring some of these things from notebook pocket to notebook pocket for going on ten years now, I'm pretty sure:
Certain pages of each notebook tend to be quite tidy because they are usually full of information I've transcribed all in one sitting from an about-to-be-retired notebook. They look like this:
Information that I've stumbled upon in the wild, on the fly, looks more like this:
Used information gets a red "X" through it. Like this:
No discussion of reading lists would be complete without the Have-Read Notebook. So far there is only one, which lists all the books I've read since 2002.
|Yes, that's classy lavender faux suede with a protective plastic cover not unlike the ones some grandmothers have on their couches. I have no explanation other than: 90 cents on clearance!|
A sample of my reading from 2006:
Seeing it all laid out like this, it occurs to me there's a fine line between hobby and obsession and, in this case, that line's probably about the width of a perfect rubber band.
Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Obsessive.
PS--The combination of phone camera and jiggly table (aforementioned Play-Doh-playing-niece) made for some blurryish photos. If you click them, you may be able to see more or better--or maybe not. "Real"-ish camera is inching ever closer to the top of my wish list.