I own a lot of books.
Ok, ok. To be more accurate, my husband and I own a lot of books. Five or ten bookcases worth, in fact. (I love this about us, except when we move. Then, not so much.) Some of these books were ours as children, some we’ve bought or had given to us, and some were free back in my Borders days.
Some of them I’ve read.
It’s been bothering me for years, however, that I haven’t read more of them. I want to read them, mind you. We keep them because they appeal to at least one of us. As you may have noticed, however, I also check books out of the library, and you see–those books have due dates.
You see the problem? We have stacks and stacks and stacks of books that I mean to read someday, and time marches on. Which is why, back in May, I talked my best friend into making a deal with me. She has her own library habit, you understand, and her own shelves upon shelves of unread books in her house, so we decided that every fourth book we read MUST be a non-library book. (We did stipulate that you could count books in a series as one book, since stopping in the middle of any series more than three books long seemed unrealistic.) Mostly my fourth book ends up being a book I own; occasionally it’s a book borrowed from a family member or close friend, the kind of person who is never, ever going to bug you about returning it. Either way, in at least a small way, I have started to work my way through the books in my house that DON’T have a due date, and it’s a lovely feeling. Yes, the other three books come from my library shelf, but really, baby steps. Right? (If you don’t hear Bill Murray in your head right now, your father does not love “What About Bob?” as much as mine.)
I bring this up because despite having had two brand-new Newberys in my house for a week, I just finished Roald Dahl’s The Twits. (Which was weird as only Roald Dahl can be, really. It had entertainment value, but I’m never going to love it the way I love Fantastic Mr. Fox.) When I picked up the two new Newberys I was finishing up a series; once I finished the series I had two books that weren’t going to be renewable at the library; when I finished those, it was my fourth book…although I did use my contingency plan. I’ve got a stash of SHORT books that I pull out to choose from when I’ve got library books that are calling to me more forcefully than usual. (You may wonder why I don’t just cheat a little, but let me tell you what, that does NOT work for me. I can govern my vices by rigid rules; I can’t do it with guidelines. (There’s a very good reason that I don’t allow myself to play ‘Words of Wonder’ after dinner unless I’ve already had my shower for the night. It’s amazing how much less time I waste when I have to leave my bedroom again to do it.)) Anyway, I bought a Roald Dahl box set years ago–off of one of Borders’ many bargain tables–and I’ve now read the three shortest books in the set as fourth books when I’ve been in a hurry. I’m not always in a hurry, but it’s still nice to have shorter books available!
Anyway, to make a long story short (too late! and if you don’t think of “Clue” there, well, you should), The Twits was my fourth book, and now I am beautifully, completely free to start on this year’s winners. Which is why I’m leaving. Goodnight!