I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life, Anne Bogel 2018
Here’s a book whose title pretty much sums up my feelings these days. Climate change, wildfires in California, losses in key races in Florida and Georgia, threatening international situations in Gaza, the Crimea, and North Korea, and no hope for anything other than bluster and corruption from the White House, so why not read wonderful books that give pleasure, joy, information, wisdom, connection, and hope for the future. Hence, I approached Bogel’s book with great anticipation, and while some of the chapters were sophomoric and silly, many of them met my hopes and expectations. Her chapter about ‘what to read next’ resonated with me, as did her guilty admission that she loved “You’ve Got Mail” with its bookstore backdrop which I d0 as well. Her chapters on how to organize your bookshelves, why NOT to recommend a book to a friend, and the problems of bookworms (“You’re at a killer used book sale and can’t remember if you already own a certain title. You decide you do and come home. You were wrong and regret your lost chance. You decide you don’t and come home and shelve your newly purchased third copy. You accidentally buy two of the same book at the book sale.”) were clever and funny. Her chapter on the value of library due dates as an impetus to actually read a book you have always intended to is spot on. Right now I’m looking over at the tower of 13 books from the Cambridge Public Library piled on the floor and end table in my study. Intimidated by their due dates, I often read them in the order that they are due! Perhaps her best chapter is the one in which she encourages you to read the acknowledgement chapter in books, something I usually don’t do, but will add to my reading going forward. Another fine chapter is the one on re-reading favorite books, something I occasionally do but will do more often now, and her chapter on ‘longing for a list that captures those ephemeral reads’ made me grateful that I started my book journal so many years ago. As she says on the final page, “Reader…. I don’t care what system you use as long as you use one. Start today, because as soon as you begin, you’re going to wish you’d begun sooner. Record your books as a gift to your future self, a travelogue you’ll be able to pull of the shelf years from now, to remember the journey.” Good advice. My high hopes for this book were only partially met, but in today’s world, that still is a plus!