‘That does it,’ I think to myself, ‘I need to manage my to-read list or it will never be achievable.’ (Today the number is back up to 1,005 books.)
There are two ways to manage the list. I can delete books, or I can read them. Deleting is obviously the easier of the two and I set at it with a good will. I mean, am I really going to ever read Bronze Age America by Barry Fell? I hover over the delete button, satisfied that I will soon be down to 1,004. But then I see the synopsis: Based on recent archaeological discoveries, this study explores the theory that Bronze-Age Swedes visited North America around the St. Lawrence River and that some Nordics migrated west, intermarrying with the Dakota tribes to form the Sioux nation
Dang, that actually sounds quite interesting. I want to know more. Bronze Age America stays. I move on.
The American Practical Navigator by Nathaniel Bowditch. There is an entirely useless book to me. I don’t navigate and most of the math in it is over my head. I am about to delete…but…it is Nathaniel Bowditch. I love Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Latham and I’ve always desired to know more about the real Mr. Bowditch. Obviously I should read his book. It stays.
I flip to a random page on my list and skim through the books: The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater, Elements of Fiction Writing by Scott Orson Card, 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, There Is A God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew, All Things Considered by G.K. Chesterton, Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Wilson Oliphant, and Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart by Laurel Ann Nattress. All these books are obviously necessary to the list. Except maybe Miss Marjoribanks, I have no idea where I heard of that one; but Oliphant is a funky last name so it is probably worth reading.
I move on. I see a biography called Alexander the Great and think ‘There! I don’t want to learn about him. Perfectly deleteable.’ However,then I notice the author’s name is Ulrich Wilken which rings a distant bell and makes me think this is probably a famous biography. I should definitely read it. Following that is The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge which is fascinating because who knew he wrote an autobiography?! Well, I clearly did at one point but forgot. Underneath that is a biography simply called Calvin Coolidge. I am about to delete it (no need to learn about him twice) but the synopsis catches my eye (‘The austere president who presided over the Roaring Twenties and whose conservatism masked an innovative approach to national leadership’) Well, now I have to read it.
Onward, past Theonomy in Christian Ethics by Greg Bahnsen and The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima, past The Princess Priscilla’s Fortnight by Elizabeth von Arnim, The Problem of Freedom: Race, Labor, and Politics in Jamaica and Britain, 1832-1938 by Thomas C. Holt, and The Secret Life of Copernicus H. Stringfellow: Surreptitious Superhero by Lorin K. Barber. All of these books are obviously must-reads.
And so it goes. I make it through several pages and instead of deleting books, usually I find myself adding some.
I write this post partially to poke fun at myself – am I ever going to need a book on screenwriting? Apparently, as I can’t bring myself to delete Save the Cat!: The Last Book On Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need – but also because I have a lot of fun going through my to-read list. I love reading random books. My to-read list chronologizes different times in my life. It is obvious when I was in Oxford, my desire to read political and religious philosophy went through the roof. I know the first time I stepped into McKay’s (used bookstore), because a bunch of juvenile fiction appears. I know when I decided to add all the Sonlight Curriculum books that I didn’t get to read in high school. I know when I first took a Dr. Clauson class (my interest in natural law skyrocketed.) Each random page has its own memories.
My to-read list is weird and cumbersome and full of books I probably will never read, but most of all the list is fun and full of me. At the very least I can be confident I will never run out of something to read!