A Summer of Books

I have at least 100 books I’ve acquired and not read, possibly 200. I counted nearly 100 at the beginning of 2008 and swore to get through them all without buying any new ones, and lapsed horribly, reading maybe a dozen and picking up twice that many.

Since then I’ve bought a bunch of books, and I’ve gotten some copies of things my generous editor sends me some from time to time, and I acquire more at events where they’re just handing them out… But I don’t read practically any of them because I’m always in the middle of writing one. I’m also easily distracted by things with screens and flashing colors, whether they belong to a TV or a computer or a video game.

Now, as my next book goes into its final stages of me having anything to do with it and it is taken over by the good people at Knopf to copyedit, print, bind, cover, and distribute, I have the crazy idea of not writing for a few months and reading some of the other books that other people have worked so hard to bring to fruition (not to mention actually going outside once in a while). I don’t know how many books I can read in one summer, but by gum, I’m going to have a go at “a lot.”

Here’s what I hope to accomplish by the end of Memorial Day weekend, give or take a few days.

The Signing Wilderness by Sigurd F. Olson
Eating the Honey of the World, by Robert Bly

I got the first because it’s the next book for our Minnesota-themed book club that will discuss it at a park in June. The second is a book of poems by another Minnesotan, the guy who’s most famous for accidentally founding the men’s movement in the mid-90s, but is actually a fine poet in the tradition of the excellent William Stafford, who is I think the greatest American poet that most people haven’t heard of unless they went to grad school for English lit. Both of these… and perhaps a collection of Stafford’s work, if I remember… will be my grown-up cabin reading for a short vacation we’re taking pretty soon. They are appropriate for reading while listening to the waters of Lake Superior lap on the rocks and the mournful jubilance of loons in the distance.

Dodger and Me, by Jordan Sonneblick
Dogsense, by Sneed B. Collard III
City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau
The Watsons go to Birmingham, by Cristopher Paul Curtis

Guys Read books for the summer. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a list of only books I’ve never read. I’ll have to make these a priority so I’m braced for the summer reading program. Fortunately, they all promise to be quick, enjoyable reads, though I may be stalled on the second one as I keep returning to the cover to marvel at the author’s name.

The Immortal Fire, by Anne Ursu
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
Heroes of the Valley, by Jonathan Stroud
Double or Die, by Charlie Higson

These are just books by writers I like, and will enjoy once I get book club books out of the way.

I hope to read these all by the end of May, because I set my expectations high and don’t care when I fall short. What I don’t read, I simply push off to June.

I’ll take each month as it comes, but I won’t run out of books until approximately 2018. I have several books I appropriated from the ALA event in January, mostly by my fellow Random Housians, and a couple more I picked up at the Loft Festival of Children’s Literature (or whatever it was called), and a few from the Minnesota Booksellers Association which are also Midwestern Connections Picks, and a couple more by people I just met on the Internet and decided I liked enough of their jib to buy their books, and possibly one or two that are simply supposed to be Very Good Books, and I’m likely to keep buying books faster than I can read them, so…

(to be continued)

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