Last week I finished the third volume of my books-I-have-read list and started the fourth. By “volume” I mean a small hardcover notebook with about 200 lined pages in it. It is most like a journal, but the particular books I’m using I bought ages ago, when I was doing my undergrad, and they aren’t decorated or fancy like many journals are these days. Neither do they cost an arm and a leg like most journals do now. One summer the Woolco store near my Aparents’ house sold them for 99¢ each. (You can tell how long ago this was by the fact that I bought the books at Woolco, a store that no longer exists.) I’m using the last of those books now, and will have to find some other sort of book to write in once I’ve used it up. Fortunately it takes five or six years for me to use one of these books up.
I started keeping track of what I read in July, 1993. The habit has followed me for a long time, through several moves and a career change. Why bother? you might ask. By now, 19 years later, it is a bit of a habit. I like the habit, though. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment to write down all the books I finish reading. BUT, it means that books I partially read, or dip into at times for reference, or only read one or two essays from are not included in my List. Neither are journal articles I read. Even given these gaps, the List tells me what I read and so gives some indication of what I might have been thinking about over the past two decades. The List includes a short description of the book — and that is very interesting to revisit. I don’t always agree with my initial assessment. I’m not sure whether this is because as I reflect on the book further my thinking about it changes, or whether I’m not being accurate in my writing. It is a bit puzzling.
Yes, The List is a bit of a quirky thing. No, I probably don’t need to keep on doing it, but I will. Some people keep journals, I keep the list. It ends up being a bit of a journal, a window into one piece of my life. It often reminds me of things that happened when I was reading a particular book. It may remind me of friends who shared books with me. Some books I read on road-trips I took back in the day to visit my friend in North Carolina, and that section of Volume 1 brings back memories of sitting in bed with her cats and a cup of tea. I sort of like that the journal is coded — I remember the cats and the tea, but they are not written down for others to see. It is a quirky, coded journally thing. And I’m hooked on keeping it up.