I looked into my car backseat and trunk the other day with the vague notion of cleaning them out and got sort of depressed for two reasons:
1. I am one person with no upper-body strength and a raging caffeine addiction so I buy boxes of diet Coke cans like two or three at a time and only ever feel like bringing up one box at a time and leave the rest in my car, which in the wilds of a Southern summer sometimes means my laziness causes overly warm cans to expand and leak/explode.
So that happened, not horribly but noticeably, where I had also left a stack of bookstore finds to chill out of sight until I was done with the ones in my apartment, and some of them got stained and/or wrinkled.
2. Looking over my stashed stash (both backseat and trunk) after the fever of acquisition has long since passed, I can't remember why some of them looked so interesting in the first place.
This brings home in a smaller, much less self-destructive way how much stress I put on myself about stupid shit that doesn't actually matter. Not that reading doesn't matter - oh my stars and garters, I haven't gone off THAT deep end. Just that reading is life to me and as long as I'm able to do it as much as humanly possible, it doesn't matter how and is always more enjoyable as an organic process.
It causes me to freak out and feel like a terrible person if I don't follow these arbitrary rules I set myself, and I don't manage to follow them anyway, and that's cost me so much in cool people and general peace of mind that I'm making myself explode that concept to remember that HEY, YOU ACTUALLY LIKE THIS THING WHEN IT COMES NATURALLY AND YOU DON'T MAKE IT INTO WORK.
I have no idea where that impulse comes from, except maybe that my best form of fun (writing) is actually really hard work that I DO have to treat as such so I treat everything like that.
Anyway, what this means is that I am definitely going to clean out my car of books but not to lug them all upstairs as further chores to check off. No, they deserve way better than that; I'm going to sort them into "want to read" and "do not care" piles (stains or not - they are all still readable), and the "do not care" pile I will take somewhere and donate without a second thought.
I will continue forward with my reading however the hell the whim comes to me, although I will always attempt mightily to finish bad things I stumble across because part of my job as a writer is not only figuring out why and how good writing is good but why and how bad writing is bad.
Here I'm going to list the ones I want to keep in my queue and the ones I'm planning on donating so in case any of you see something that you want, let me know before like Saturday and I'll get it to you (free to a good home!).
1. 1Q84 (everybody at the library says it's awesome)
2. Death Note series (will have to go Amazoning to fill in complete series because NOBODY EVER HAS ALL OF IT AT ONCE)
3. Bangkok 8 (I liked Girl with a Dragon Tattoo okay and have heard this is better)
4. Stardust (I'm working on becoming a Neil Gaiman completest)
5. American Jesus (sociology, y'all!)
6. Beginnings and I, Robot (Asimov, sci- and non-fiction editions - I've actually read I, Robot and enjoyed it but lost it somewhere between college and graduation)
7. Bowling Alone (more sociology, this time about My Generation and our weird ability to not actually do anything in person anymore)
8. Two short non-fiction books about the crazy uppity daughters of famous dudes from the 17th century
9. Afterlife (collection of stories and poems about what happens after death, a personal thematic obsession of mine)
10. Love in the Time of Cholera (RIP, Gabriel Garcia Manquez - magical realism rocks)
11. The House of the Seven Gables (The Scarlett Letter and "Young Goodman Browne" are very convincing)
I'mma set free:
1. The Secret Lives of Doctors' Wives (I grabbed this as one of my bookstore finds but then read the first chapter and had NO FRIGGIN' CLUE what was going on - such confusing plotting ALREADY - and it wasn't written well enough to struggle through all that)
2. Comical Fantasy (anthology I meant to give to a friend and then decided to read myself first but - I'm sorry, guys, there is a deeply prejudiced, personal, and completely unfounded reason there is so little fantasy passing through this blog - HEY PARKERBOY, WANT THIS? Let me know and I'll send it to you).
3. Shogun (these two volumes have been the keystone to my parents' over-the-TV bookshelf ever since I can remember, and I ganked 'em when I went for Christmas, but I've also tried to read Trilogy by Leon Utris from that very same source and never get past the Irish funeral [which is such a great beginning to such a boring rest of it], so either Mom or Dad or the dog loves historical fiction that puts me to sleep, and I'll put it back and get to it eventually)
4. Confederacy of Silence (if this hadn't taken the brunt of the diet soda, I might've kept it, but I also picked up another book about the seedy side of Southern gentility that remains pristine and seems like more of a broad history than a true-crime report)
5. Various mystery volumes, most notably a P.D. James (I thought, hey, this is award-winning, genre-defining here, but frankly the interchangability of the various titles to choose from does not vault my interest over the fact that Agatha Christie got to me first)
6. GRE practice books (they are written in and if I decide to take the test again, I will use online stuff to practice since it's a lot closer to the way the actual test is)
7. Tales from Hell's Kitchen (I mean...do I care? Really and truly? Not entirely so much, no, although I will double check to make sure this isn't Satan's favorite recipes.)
|To this! (IT'S MUCH NEATER JUST TRUST ME ON THIS.)|
So I'm at the point now where I've gotten them out of my car and sorted, and I feel a lot better. It's a lot more manageable, and while I appreciate a fine array for selection in my apartment, I also like when the piles get small enough and all in one place so I can feel free to ignore it completely for weeks on end if I feel like it.
I keep threatening to chuck the book lists for the same reason, and that will be my next step, I think. Life is too short to stress out about this, and there will ALWAYS be books I want to read badly enough to get to.