The More I Read, The More They Pull Me In

imagesThere are just way too many books out there that are flashing big bright “Read Me!” signs. I have dedicated myself to going back for those classics and well-received contemporary books that have escaped my reading lists (or disappeared under a covering of dust and forgetfulness). But then I hear about a new and exciting title and my urgency juices start to flow causing Henry James and Émile Zola to slide back behind Clarissa and The Good Soldier Svejk.

Is there a computer algorithm available which calculates the value of literature against the estimated time remaining and generates the optimal prioritized reading list?

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Food Fight!

When Sarah Winchester died there was enough new lumber stacked outside the San Jose mansion to build an entire second mansion and then some. I sit here looking over my built-in bookshelves, contemplating how high the yet-to-be-read books would stack after I get moved out to the old folks home (or even worse).

images.jpgRealistically, I could be sixteen years old and the number of books I might want to read still would be daunting .. well, yes and no .. when you’re sixteen the idea that you won’t live forever is never considered. Can I get Dad’s car on Friday night? Will my cow-lick ever lay flat? Is that a zit on my nose? When your brain is full of important questions like those, who has time for mortality?

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My Control Room of Reading

download.jpgI’m sitting here in my office library with several current reading projects open on various electronic devices. On my new iPhone I’m gradually reflecting on the horrendous stories of Russian troops caught in the ill-fated Afghan war (The Zinky Boys by Svetlana Alexievich); on my iPad I’m reading both Ace Atkins last Spenser novel, Black Magic and slowly enjoying the more demanding Henry James novel, The Portrait of a Lady (split screen is so handy); and on my old iPhone, which doubles as a go-to-bed radio, I am enjoying an entertaining novel, Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta. Yes, I watched the HBO series and my impression is that the series is much like the book except Kathryn Hahn is delightful and well worth lusting after.

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What’s On Your Plate?

DQ.jpegI’m considering adding books in Spanish (and maybe even French) to my lists. It’s not so much that I’m reading a lot more Spanish fiction but rather that my slow, fumbling march through fiction in a language other than English is absorbing more and more of my time. If it takes me ten times as long to read Bolaño or Cervantes might suggest that I will be reading far fewer books each month. Then again, is that a problem?

Way way back in the past history of this world (often referred to as The Sixties) I read Tarzan en la Selva. As a Senior in High School my family hosted a student from Peru and I spent much of the day immersed in Spanish. But when I matriculated on to the university I was coerced into thinking that a knowledge of Spanish was insufficient for advanced study in literature so I switched to French. This had three results: first, I learned enough French to pass my language exams for graduate school; second, my mind replaced engrammatic knowledge of Spanish words and phrases with the French equivalents, and finally, I twisted my little gray cells around the two languages such that I was never confident speaking either.

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