I own a lot of books. It was not always this way. There was a time when I had to rely on other people to buy books for me. This resulted in many, many rereads. I suppose if this had not made me happy we would have gone more often to the library, but I loved Anne of Green Gables and its sequels so much, I did not mind. Even after I was old enough for a job, I did not spend a great deal of money on books. In college I had little time for personal reading as I had plenty to read in my classes as an English/Education major. After I began teaching, I was again far too busy to read as much as I would have liked and needed to put my meager salary toward car payments, mortgage payments, and student loan payments.
So, when did it all begin? I mark my descent into excessive book ownership from the summer I worked at B. Dalton in the mall. I was about 7 years into my teaching career at the time and needed a summer job that would not wear me out too much. Waitressing was not something at which I excelled and teaching summer school was not an alternative I wanted to pursue. I was lucky enough to be hired and spent my summer talking to people about books, reading books, and buying books. The discount was fabulous and even such a small store introduced me to books I would not have otherwise found. My book buying ratcheted up a notch again when I was taking classes for my librarian licensure. While other students were content to borrow all their class reading material from the library, I felt drawn to own everything I read.
So, here I am 10 years after working as a book seller and 4 years after the start of my library education and my house is overrun. I have been very aware of my buying tendencies for years, and have managed to curtail my purchasing with library cards from two different towns. However, since new books are always being released that I feel I ne-e-e-e-e-d, I acquire much more quickly than I can read. One problem I have is that when a book I want to read is released I buy it right away. On more than one occasion the book languishes on my shelf until I take it down to the used bookstore or sell if off to Powell's without ever having read it. I am trying to stop doing that, instead keeping a running list of books due out and holding off buying them until I am ready to read. (This tactic works sometimes.)
Now, I am preparing to move to Washington, DC for a year to serve as the Teacher-in-Residence at the Library of Congress (luckily the books there are not available for check-out). This means I need to pack up enough reading material to last about a month until my first visit home. This took me approximately 5 minutes. But this endeavor also left me staring at a significant number of books I would not be able to take right away, as well as, a significant list of books that have not yet been released, but that I will want to read before anything that has been relegated to the second string. The question is: Do I get rid of these second stringers, or keep them around in the hopes that evenings on my own will result in greater reading time?
In doing some reorganizing and weeding this evening, I separated out a pile of books to read between now and the end of August when I officially move. Most of these are short, children's or young adult books I can read at a pace of one a day. Some are anthologies of short stories which I like, but have difficulty reading because of the choppy nature of the reading time. I plan to read at least one book a day and still have time to pack and do all those other things one does when one is about to move away for a year.
I started today with Schooled by Gordon Korman, which was sort of cheating since I brought the book home from work at the end of the school year, and do not own it. Even though it was a bullying book, which I generally do not enjoy because they can be so cliche, I found this one refreshingly unique. Cap (short for Capricorn) has been raised by his grandmother in what used to be a thriving commune, but is now just the two of them. When she is injured and Cap must move in with a foster family and go to school for the first time, hilarity ensues. Cap is a believable, wide-eyed innocent who is an easy target. The story ends well, as expected, but Cap's sweetness is a nice change from the usual downtrodden protagonist.
Before beginning this post, I began reading, I'll Pass for Your Comrade, by Anita Silvey. I started with this one because during my recent week in a workshop at the National Archives, I learned about a women who had masqueraded as a man to fight in the Civil War. She and others are explored in some detail in this book that has a remarkable number of pictures of women in uniform considering they were trying to hide in the ranks to fight as men. I will finish this tomorrow and hopefully another of the pile I have selected for these few weeks.
Updates on my "book-a-day" challenge to follow as the week goes on.