a comforting sight

One of my new favorite daily reads is Diana Higgins’ blog Diaphanous. A few days ago, she posted a photo of her to-be-read-stack, and I liked the way it looked, so here’s mine.This little bookshelf is next to my bed. What you can’t see from the picture is that the books in the shelves are stacked two deep. I’ve been trading a lot of books lately on bookmooch and bookins, and I’m developing quite a backlog.

These books are the first thing I see every morning when I wake up, and the last thing before I turn out the light. It calms me, to know that I have a lot to choose from. At any given moment, I’m working on a couple of different books. Right now, it’s E.H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World, Mike Davis’s City of Quartz, Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Novel (okay, I’ve been reading this on and off for over a year), and Dorothy Allison’s collection of short stories, Trash. I can only take the Allison book in very short doses, because it’s so incredibly upsetting, although sooooo good. I might finish it by the time I’m forty.

I tend to read a couple of different non-fiction books at a time, but to read fiction serially. Mostly, that’s because I’m a slow reader of non-fiction, while I plow through most fiction. I have a terrible habit of starting non-fiction books and then taking a year to finish them–the Smiley book is not an accident. Unfortunately, it means it will be quite a while before this stack gets much smaller. It’s good news for my reading life, though.


January 24, 2007. books for grown-ups.


  1. chip replied:

    very impressive pile! and so organized! I’m not even sure how many books I have in my to-read “pile” since they are scattered all over the place…

    BTW I read Trash last year, great stuff! Currently I’m on a Paul Theroux binge.

  2. Phil replied:

    I’m like Chip, the books are scattered all over the house. Lately I’ve been tearing through the books of Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. Started with their first, The Relic, and have moved through them in order of publication. Much more fun that way. Their books are purely page-turner thrillers. Perfect for late at night when my brain is shutting down.

    Also like Chip, I highly recommend Paul Theroux. I’ve read all of his books, fiction and non-fiction. Try Riding The Iron Rooster or Happy Isles of Oceania.

  3. elise replied:

    Yes, my books are scattered through the house but quite a few seem to end up by the toilet!! hee hee. Actually everyone else in the family does more toilet reading than me! I get a lot of books from the library so have that incentive of not being able to keep them for a year. I just read a really interesting book on the immune system. I love that kind of stuff but it helped that I got it in the “junior” section at the library.
    PS. I responded to your comment with a comment on my blog.

  4. chichimama replied:

    My to read pile is spread out all over the house. I should really consolidate :-). How do you like the Jame Smiley? It is in one of my stacks…

  5. raava replied:

    My “to read” pile is only three books right now, but I’m too scared to jump in there because I’m an ignorant reader. That is ignorant of my surroundings and whatever is happening there as I read. The house could be on fire when I’m lost in a book and I’d just burn right along with it.

  6. jackie replied:

    I wish I was organized to use those kinds of book-swapping things. I desperately need new books in my pile! Right now I’m waiting for an Amazon shipment of four books, but they’re all reesarch for a writing project, so they don’t really “count” to me. I’m also currently reading a thick nonfiction book I got for Xmas 2005! Also, I’m trying once again to work my way through “Wings of the Dove,” but am having no luck. My to-read (or re-read) list for the spring will be heavily shaped by my teaching needs for the fall– Hamlet, Gatsby, and more.

  7. Jennifer (ponderosa) replied:

    Well now I don’t feel so badly, since my to-read stack is so much smaller! I like the idea of working through a book over a couple of years. I think certain aspects of books strike one differently as one (uh) matures.

    I hadn’t heard of the Jane Smiley, sounds promising!

  8. landismom replied:

    Yeah, my pile was much smaller before I started trading. I’ve only had this little bookcase here for a year or two, and it’s been quite helpful. For example, I’m no longer worried that the stack will fall over in the middle of the night and suffocate me.

  9. thordora replied:

    My books sprawl all over the house, and I only realize I haven’t finished reading something when I find it again. Non fiction can take me forever, unless the writing is really good. It’s the tiny fonts they use that get me.

    I swear my bookshelf creeps closer to my bed every night. Scary really.

  10. BBSP at five years, the remix « Bumblebee Sweet Potato replied:

    […] My to-be-read pile has once again outgrown this old picture. […]

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