I signed up for Goodreads 2 years ago on Facebook, thinking it would be a good idea to track the books I am reading, wanting to read or have read already.
I hit a bit of a snag when I realised that I’ve been reading book-books (what they now call “chapter books” in a turn of phrase that drives my a bit mad) since I was 4. That’s 35 years of reading an average of 5 books a week. Since I’m a reader and not a math wiz and I don’t want to open my calculator widget I can promise you that adds up to a lot of books I’ve covered.
When I talk about the books I read it gets embarrassing because I’ve got friends who are reading high-minded non fiction about war and science while I’m reading bubble-bath escapism. Then I’ve got friends who are reading male adoloscent homoerotica in the guise of science fiction* while I’m reading ‘serious’ books about the history of women and medicine.
Then the other problem is that Goodreads is missing a tag for “I have read this book 10000 times”, a tag I need for things like Harry Potter, The Winds of War and Katherine. That’s good in the long run, I suppose, because it keeps me from looking as much of a dork as I truly am for leaving serious research books on my To Read list while I dive into The Charm School for the fourth time.
I think the crux of the problem is that I read the way others eat. For a person to sit down and record every meal of the last 35 years–or even one meal a day–would go from fun to daunting very quickly. That’s how I feel when I sit down to write about what I’ve read.
I know this sounds like I’m bragging, but I’m here to admit that maybe this is a fault. I started thinking that when I started on Hour 5 of updating my “shelves” and realised that I’m so given-over to books as to be stunted in other areas. I haven’t jumped out of planes or climbed more than 1 mountain. Then again, I’m afraid of heights. I don’t have children to raise, I don’t meet others for coffee–which I don’t drink. I don’t hunt lions, sail in regattae, shop for clothes, paint, or play the piano any more. I no longer act in plays.
I read books, I write books, I talk about books. I talk about talking about books and write about reading books and writing books. And since in those books that I read and write I go so many places I lose sight of the fact that I’m not moving at all. If my life were an adolescent homoerotic story in the guise of science fiction my body would stay in one place while my mind would be in another body in another time and place flirting with another boy. (Oh, and I would be a boy myself. Because 99.99 % of AHSITGOSF books are starring supersmart, supertalented boys who buddy up with likely boys who are only slightly different yet wholly validating of Hero Boy.)
I’m still pondering whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, this being so devoted to books that the written word has turned me into a literary anchorite.
*In discussing Ender’s Game, a book a lot of my friends love, one of my friends pointed out the homoerotica that I thought I was really pervy for noticing when I first read the book. But since I’ve found another like-minded soul I’m coming out of the closet and calling EG a bit of a, well, you know. That whole AHITGOSF thing.