Recently I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time: took an inventory of all the books I’ve acquired but haven’t read. It’s not a pretty picture. The total comes to 60-some titles and thousands upon thousands of pages. But at least now I have an idea of the scope of the problem, and can begin to take steps to address it.
The first one, of course, is to stop the inflow. To that end I am pledging publicly to acquire no more books for the duration of calendar year 2019, except for Chris O’Leary’s giant Bowie book Ashes to Ashes, which I already have on preorder.
The immediate goal is to finish all of the several books I am in the middle of before leaving for Morocco in mid-February. Then after returning home at the beginning of March I’ll start to deal with The Pile.
So why am I telling you this? Partly because writing about something is a way to make it real. And partly because I hope to write some about what I’m reading, as that seems to be the only way I really remember anything anymore. You are excused in advance for not being interested (though I am always looking for fellow-travelers, so do be in touch if anything strikes a chord).
But for now, back to Lincoln in the Bardo.
Well damn, I was going to send you the book I just finished: Word by Word–the Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper, who is a Merriam-Webster lexicographer. I saw her on C-span II Book TV awhile ago & put her book on my Amazon Wish List, resulting in a Xmas gift of it. You might expect something super technical & boring, but I found it very interesting and often quite funny. However I appreciate your problem, so I’ll “hold my water,” although I harbor doubts whether you’ll ever fully catch up. But good luck with that!
I approach and justify my ever-growing pile of unread books much as the widow Winchester approached the endless construction of the Mystery House: as long as the pile of unread books is growing, I will not die. At 68, this is a concern, although my health is perfect.
In their last-page of the issue of Vanity Fair, they asked David Bowie what his definition of heaven was. He replied, “Reading.”
Of course, he once described himself as a “librarian with a sex drive.”