Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Life List

This week was a pretty good reading week for me. I finished Barry Unsworth's Land of Marvels, and Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence; and I only have a few more pages left to read in Brian Moore's wonderful and weird 1975 novel, The Great Victorian Collection. I'm going to try to get reviews of all three posted on my blog this week. I'm so extremely far behind on review-writing, that I'll probably never catch up. But I did manage to post a review of one book (count 'em – one!) last week – P.D. James's first Adam Dalgliesh novel, Cover Her Face; and I'm hoping that means the dry spell is ending.

The main thing that's been swallowing up all my non-reading free time during the last couple of weeks is my obsession with creating a life list of books. Do you have a life list? Over the years, I've kept a lot of separate lists of the books I read each year – lists on pages in my journals, lists on the backs of envelopes, lists on scraps of newspaper, etc. But I've never tried putting them all together in one humongous list until now. It was all those darn "X Number of Books You Just Have to Read Before You Shuffle Off This Mortal Coil" lists that have been published lately: That's what did me in. I started comparing my own reading life to the various recommendations, and of course I was immediately hooked. I love lists and list-making – so I guess it was inevitable.

I started out keeping a Microsoft Works database of all the titles. But then I realized it might be more useful if I could keep it online, so I've converted it into a Google Docs spreadsheet which seems to work very nicely. I'm up to a little over a thousand titles now, but I'm listing everything I can remember – even the books I read as a child.

And now I've got my husband hooked, too. So we've been spending the last week or so reminding each other of books we remember reading, books we think we've read, books we should have read or probably read but can't remember now. It's actually been a lot of fun, in a deeply twisted sort of way. And it's been a very valuable memory-jogger, too. I've rediscovered dozens of books I'd forgotten about reading – it's almost like having the experience of reading them all over again. But now that my life list is almost complete (well, I think it is anyway), I'm really looking forward to getting back to reading in the present once again!

1 comment:

  1. What a fun project--and time consuming. I may have to give this a try too.

    I hope your dry spell is ending too. I made a decent amount of progress in my reading yesterday and am hoping that will be good news for my getting through The Woman in White.


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