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Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

12 April 2007

The value of a reading list

“I never have time for pleasure reading!” Do you ever say that? I used to—a lot. It seemed that there were always so many tasks and errands to do (particularly after Katrina) that I was lucky to find an hour or two a week free to read.

Then last December, someone on one of the email lists I belong to mentioned that she keeps a reading list for the year. It sounded like a fun idea, so I started in January.

I was surprised to discover that I was reading much more than I thought. Those dribbles and drabs of time I eked out of my schedule added up to a decent number of books—ten in January (keeping a list prompted me to finish several books that I was partway through), seven in February, seven in March, and two in April (with two others underway).

Here are my favorites from my 2007 list so far.

Rogue’s Salute by Jennifer Blake (about a swordsman in New Orleans in the early 1800s)
Deliver Me by Farrah Rochon (takes place in post-Katrina New Orleans)
Crusader’s Lady by Lynna Banning (takes place in the Holy Lands during the Middle Ages)

Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney (an excellent, free-flowing translation)
The Knight by Gene Wolfe (as per his usual, complex and sometimes confusing, but hard to put down)

Science fiction
Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (a Medieval village copes with the aliens whose spaceship crashes among them)
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler (a vampire genetically engineered to withstand sunlight tries to find out who killed her family)

Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Paul Kahumbu (a fascinating children’s book about a baby hippo and a giant tortoise that become best friends; it made me rethink my opinion of reptile brain plasticity)
Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America by John M. Barry (dense but well written; strongly recommended for every American to read, particularly those who live in the states drained by the Mississippi)

Now that I keep a list, I feel far less frustrated about my reading time.

But I still wish I had more!


Anonymous said...

I love your blog site! Your words are inspiring! It is calling to my own desire to read. I love reading but never seem to find the time to do it. I will have to follow your example. :)
Keep on writing and sharing all the news. I look forward to knowing everything.

Sphinx Ink said...

Keeping a list is a great idea. Unlike your self-disciplined way (i.e., you perform your duties before pleasure-reading), I have always tended to read and avoid doing other things I really should have been doing instead. Nevertheless, even with the volume of reading I've done over the years, I've often thought I ought to keep a list of books I've read on a monthly basis, just for personal reference. I also make a pencil notation in each book when I've finished it--with my menopause-brain memory, I can't always recall whether I've already read a book when I look at its cover, or see its title and author. Now when I finish one, I write in pencil on the flyleaf "read [date]" so I'll know I've read it.

Shauna Roberts said...

Sphinx Ink, I love your idea of of notating in the book the date you read it. I too sometimes forget which books I've read. I've been putting Post-Its on the covers of books I haven't read yet if they are going to be mingling for some reason with the already-read books. But Post-Its come off. Thanks for a great idea.

Lynna Banning said...

Shauna--thanks for the vote for Crusader's Lady!
And congratulations on your new blog site--very nice indeed.
Carolyn Woolston

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for dropping by, Carolyn!

Farrah Rochon said...

Reading has always been my favorite pasttime. Well, other than a slight addiction to Super Mario Brothers in the 7th grade. I still read for pleasure nearly every night, and even though my reading time has slowed down considerably over the past year, I eek out time for it whenever I can.

I'm so honored that Deliver Me was among the books on your list. :)