First of all, I have several to-be-read stacks. There are two shelves in the bedroom, both over full (and that doesn’t count the poetry books above them, mixed in with the ones I have read, that I need to read, like Richard Siken’s Crush and that Mary Ruefle and Natalie Diaz).
Downstairs, there is a half shelf (to the left of the plant) that I need to read, and a half shelf (to the right of it) that also needs reading. Or in the case of the Patchen, re-reading, always.
And then I have some new books. Chilean wildlife, two books that I have been wishing for, some studying. And all of the books that I have set aside for my vulture book research. I’ve read several, but there are around 5 more I need to finish, including the Tibetan and the Egyptian Books of the Dead. Which might be excessive, but who’s to say?
Most of the non-poetry books in my stacks are non-fiction, but there’s plenty of fiction, too. A number of the books I want to read have been written by people I know. Many of the highest priority books are books I got at one of the last four AWPs I’ve attended. I don’t think I’ll be able to swing LA, so I’m considering this a catch-up year—time to make good on all those prior purchases.
Do you have more books than I do? I would love to see pictures… I’m feeling really self conscious about how many of my own books I haven’t yet read and how many I refuse to relinquish, even though I’ve read them a million times, for example:
(I’ve been re-reading this book since before I knew how to read the word “watch” (because I remember stumbling over it while reading aloud) and I see these birds among all the birds, whenever I close my eyes and think bird.) I know I don’t have too many books, but some days—packing and unpacking days chief among them—it feels like maybe too many.
I’ve read six books in the last ten days. I’ve written effusively about four of them, either here or on Amazon. I can’t keep that pace up, as several of the high priority books are lengthy and dense, but I have set a minimum goal of one in each genre per week for the summer. Only once (and this was a few weeks ago) did I start a book and get so annoyed with the author that I didn’t finish it. I don’t know that author (which is good, because I have no idea how I could ever look them in the eye again, especially since the first two chapters made my own eyes roll right out of their sockets).
I’m still having trouble making myself write all of the things I want to write. I am still on the edge of my life, not in the middle of it, and that is frustrating. All of the koans in the world tell me that I am in fact living my life, whether I like it or not and that to dwell on the future is to miss today… But I don’t know where I will be living in five months or a year after that. I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I don’t know who among my closest friends and loved ones will be within a day’s drive. I should find some way to be comfortable and breathe, but it is mighty hard to do. Every day, at least once, I think How much further til we’re home? I don’t know the answer.
The best I can do for now is love my people, read my books, teach my students, knit my sweaters, and run my miles. I am pretty damned lucky to have all that to do.