Monday, January 28, 2008

Reading Lists & Destination Bookstores

While I've read a high volume of books for many years, I don't have a reading list. Do you? I was fascinated to see the article in The New Yorker about Art Garfunkel's reading list which he has faithfully kept for almost forty years. As Nick Paumgarten points out the Garfunkel Library begins in June 1968 then chronologically lists 1023 books that Garfunkel has read.

If you check out the list you will see that Garfunkel is committed to reading classics and reading for pleasure. I loved this quote about his commitment to reading: "I read for the reading pleasure, not for the gold star," [Garfunkel] he went on. "Reading is a way to take downtime and make it stimulating. If you're in the waiting room of a dentist's office and don't want to twiddle your thumbs, you turn to Tolstoy."

I identified with this statement since for many years I've used spare moments any place to pull out a book and plunge into the topic. Yet the idea never crossed my mind to keep track of the various books which I've read. About the only time I can think of even using a reading list was during my final years of high school. I used a college preparatory reading list to give me ideas for classics and books which I read for pleasure but also wove into my high school assignments. It was a good step and gave me some needed exposure to those books before college.

Besides this article where Art Garfunkel is declared the King of Reading, my local newspaper included this article about nine destination bookstores (which I found repeated in the Chico, California paper using Google). The diversity is fascinating and I've only been in two of the nine stores: The Tattered Cover in Denver, Colorado and Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon. Each experience was special and unique. I agree with travel editor Beth J. Harpaz about getting list in Powell's bookstore. You do need a map for the complicated twists and turns in that place.

For many years, I've read about The Strand in New York City and actually stayed near Union Square for the American Society of Journalists and Authors meetings but going to that classic bookstore did not get into my plans. I'm eager to see if I can get to it in April during my next trip to New York City.

My point in this entry about The Writing Life is to point out the necessity of being committed to reading books on a regular basis and if you reach one of these destination bookstores, to poke around inside them.

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4 Comment:

At 3:00 PM, Blogger eric wright Left a note...

A few years ago I started a reading list. I wanted to keep track of what I had read. It also offered insights into how my own thinking had developed and changed through the years in conjunction with what I had read.

I have now started taking notes in the reading list from the book I am reading. This keeps them together.

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Kristi Holl Left a note...

A couple years ago I created a reading list comprised of books on the shelves in my office that I had bought through Amazon or Writer's Digest Book Club and never finished reading (or in some cases, never got beyond the "thumbing through" stage.) It helps to check that list--and put a freeze on buying more till I've read what I already own! Also last year I started a detailed notebook on children's books I read, since I write for middle grade. It has helped me "read like a writer" with those books, studying technique especially. But I still reserve the "just before bedtime" for pleasure reading. Oh, for more hours in the day for that!

At 6:26 AM, Blogger David A. Todd Left a note...

I started keeping a record of what I read beginning about 2000. I even went back a few years and re-created it the best I could. Lately I've been writing book reviews/reports of every book I read; wrote one last night. Of course, my true reading list is what I want to read, which is considerably longer than what I have already read.

At 6:47 AM, Blogger Crystal Laine Miller Left a note...

People who keep detailed lists of what they read fascinate me(or have a "what to read next" list.) I knew a doctor who kept a notebook of his reading list and would recommend books according to his detailed notes on them.

But since I've published so many book reviews, I have never attempted to keep up with my huge list and so many books were assigned.

Now, as I have reached a certain age,(and quit book reviewing) I would like to know just how many books I've read. I also have gotten into the mode lately to not just read "everything" as I've done on assignment in the past. Now, if a book doesn't personally interest me, I simply put it down.

I'm more focused about what I want from my reading. This year I truly am thinking about coming up with a list to actually guide that process instead of reading by the seat of my pants.


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