Notable Quotes

The shadow life of reading begins even while we have the book in hand -- begins as soon as we move from the first sentence to the second and start up a memory context.... Here is the power, the seductiveness of the act: when we read, we create and then occupy a hitherto nonexistent interior locale.... No less exalting is the sensation of inner and outer worlds coinciding, going on simultaneously, or very nearly so.  The awareness is enforced regularly.  I am reading, caught up in my book, when the phone rings. I am shocked back into the room, forced to contend with some piece of business.  Then, a moment later, I am back.  I have jumped from one circuit to another.  The book is there, waiting, like one of those rare dreams that I half-awaken from and then reenter.

- Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies


PSA: Fever Kills

It's flu season out there - do not take a fever lightly.

Many years ago, a young woman I knew, Heather, went home from work feeling a little unwell.  She and her husband Larry worked together at the company at which she'd met, and that night he did the right thing with Tylenol and soup.  The next day, she still wasn't feeling good so she stayed home and made an appointment with the doctor.  The following day, Larry waited to hear about what the doctor said... at first, he wasn't worried (doctors and waiting times, after all) but then he grew concerned.  Finally he called the office: she hadn't come for her appointment.  Larry raced home from Midtown to Staten Island - she was dead in their bed.  They'd been married only a couple of years.  Heather was in her 20s.

Yesterday, Thing One sent me an e-mail about a colleague of his, a many in his 60s just inching toward retirement.  He'd had a mild fever on Thursday, but it had gone away.  Friday it was back, and 103.  But why worry?  It had gone away before.  Saturday his girlfriend couldn't get him on the phone... Sunday she used her key to go into his apartment and... dead.

If you have a fever, and it's inching up past 102, call your doctor.  Tell your friends.  Take something to bring it down.  Be careful.  Please.


Challenge Accepted... and Met

This time last year I decided to do the Read Your Own Books challenge with the goal of getting to Level 4.  Despite Mt. Bookpile's best efforts, I did it!  32 books read that were bought/given to me before December 31, 2011:
  • The Backwards Glance (Bresland)
  • The Ballerinas (Migel)
  • Being Dead (Crace)
  • The Book of Lost Fragrances (Rose)
  • Byron (MacCarthy)
  • The Children of Hurin (Tolkien)
  • The Citadel (Cronin)
  • Cleopatra (Schiff)
  • Crooked House and The Body in the Library (Christie)
  • Dancing with the Witchdoctor (James)
  • Floating (Bailey-Williams)
  • The Gates of Ivory (Drabble)
  • The Ghost Writer (Roth)
  • Girl With a Pearl Earring (Chevalier)
  • The Green Man (Bedard)
  • Hearts of Darkness (Thompson)
  • House of Meetings (Amis)
  • I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere (Gavalda)
  • The Knitting Circle (Hood)
  • Leaves from the Valley (Harvey)
  • Leeway Cottage (Gutcheon)
  • Lemprière's Dictionary (Norfolk)
  • The Lions of Little Rock (Levine)
  • Losing Mr. North (Kagan)
  • Read Between the Lies (Bryant-Woolridge)
  • Paulina (Howarth)
  • Simone de Beauvoir (Bair)
  • Ship Sooner (Sullivan)
  • The Starboard Sea (Dermont)
  • Summer at Tiffany (Hart)
  • This I Believe (Allison)
  • Waves (Dogar)
I think I'll do this again this year.  Anyone else take this challenge?  How did you do?

Year-end Reading Round-Up

Counting down from last year's 3131 books left to read, I've got "only" 2731 more books to enjoy.  What did I think about books I've read this past year? For lists, go here, here, here and here (the totals on the review blog won't match these because I don't add the books I read for the award committee or for professional review). A list of the Best of 2012 has been posted!

And here's the 2012 reading analysis (2011 numbers in parens):
  • number of books read in 2012: 400 (250) 
  • best month: July/48 (August/29) 
  • worst month: October/23 (May/12) 
  • average read per month:  33.33 (20.8) 
  • adult fiction as percentage of total: 22.75 (21.2) 
  • children's/YA fiction as percentage of total: 43.75 (54.4) 
  • YA nonfiction as percentage of total: 22.75 (didn't track in 2011)
  • Advance Readers Copies: 181 (177) 
  • e-books: 16 (none in 2011)
  • books read that were published in 2012: 288
  • books that will be published in 2013: 21
  • five star reviews: 31 (18) 
  • one star reviews: 20 (11) 
Last year I was surprised that I'd read 250 books, and said "Given that my circumstances will change in 2012, 250 is optimistic, but we'll try for 200 and further reduction on Mt. Bookpile." Ahem. Mt. Bookpile is down to 263 (so met - and passed - the Reading Challenge I set myself!).  I've more than passed 200 books for the year.  So for next year, I'm continuing to try to reduce Mt. Bookpile, and I'm going to go for 300 books.

Oh, and if you're looking for other lists (and To Be Read inspiration), Sherry over at Semicolon has done an amazing job of collecting booklists and year-end-round-ups.  The Daily Beast has an overview of the Best Books (per several review sources) in both fiction and non-fiction.  Go. Make a list for your 2013 reading. Enjoy.