Right Steps & Poui Trees

A Bucket List of Books?

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I remember falling in love with Samuel Beckett’s works in Sixth Form. We were doing “Malone Dies” for A Levels and, in addition to having an excellent teacher, the searing scrutiny of the human condition resonated with something in my adolescent soul. After the three novels, I quickly went on to read “Waiting for Godot” and “Endgame” and without hesitation declared the man a genius!

 

 

So taken was I with Beckett, that in a letter to my grandparents (then in their late 60s/early 70s) I exhorted them to read “Malone Dies”, telling them how good it was. I still remember my grandfather’s reply in his next letter. He said that at his age, he preferred to stick with writers he already knew and liked. It was the first time I had thought about having to choose which books to read based on limited time left for reading. I didn’t fully get it, but it seemed sad to the teen-aged me. I am now nearly 60, and I understand a bit better. I realize that I no longer have the time to read all the books I want to or would want to. Maybe I should begin to act my age, and not read with wild abandon.

IMG_9978That was how I read when I was younger. With wild abandon. Whatever I felt like. Whatever caught my interest or fancy. I never considered time to read a diminishing or limited resource. Of course I had time to read! I could read it all! I could read trashy novels, an entire fantasy series, a book about world superstitions, Naipaul (till I decided never again), every book by Jean Plaidy, every book by Beckett, “David Copperfield”, “Anna Karenina”, “Lord of the Rings”, I could read it all! I could sample something by an unknown author, wander off down unbeaten literary tracks, not at all concerned about whether I would like everything I found there or not. I had time, I had interest, how exciting it was! I could always come back to the tried and true when I was ready. Maps or GPS not needed! There were no flights to miss, no deadlines for this kind of journey! If I didn’t like the book, that was just another discovery to be noted. No question of time wasted or a reading opportunity lost.

bookstoreBut is that changing now? Or should it be? I don’t exactly hear time’s winged chariot, but I am aware that it may be only another 20 or 30 good years of reading left (given some family longevity genes). Maybe I should become more cautious in my choices, check out the bone fides of a book before reading it. Maybe I should spend more nights at home with old friends, rather than go for a wild fling, a possible one-night stand with a strange author! Blind dates with a book should perhaps be a thing of the past. Those pick-ups in an airport bookstore, waiting for a flight, may need to come to an end. Should I be drafting a book bucket list?IMG_9997[1]

I haven’t decided. And maybe I won’t change my ways. But what I do know is that I am accepting that I will never be able to read all the books I would like to. That was always the truth, but I am aware of it now. And that’s a little sad.

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Author: rightpouitree

Navigating the real and virtual worlds and sometimes writing about what I observe...

9 thoughts on “A Bucket List of Books?

  1. Hmmm… It’s a dilemma. I think a little wild fling every once in a while is probably a good thing. I cannot resist airport bookstores (and second-hand bookstores – there was a fantastic one in our son’s college town). I am going back and doing a little re-reading of some of the (rather decrepit) books on our shelves – and finding it rewarding. (But… I thought this was going to BE your list!!)

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    • Airport bookstores and second-hand bookstores are among my favourites too, Emma. The element of surprise; what will I find? I think I will eventually complete a book bucket list, but I will give it some thought, savour the process. But there is a bit of finality to the process too…my book list finale?

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  2. Reblogged this on Petchary's Blog and commented:
    For lifelong bookworms like my friend and fellow blogger Susan Goffe and myself, the choice may be to go into unknown waters in one’s reading habits, or stick with those authors one knows and loves. Personally, I still do enjoy those little forays into the unknown. But, in the interests of time… Should one become more conservative? I am not too sure.

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  3. It’s a difficult set of choices. Your bookshelves have a bit of overlap with mine, of course. But a bucket list? Hmm. I still want to read everything I can, but my reading habits are by no means as promiscuous as they were when I was a teenager and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was followed by Heinlein and then the Hardy Boys. Work tends to impose itself on my reading these days (must finish the latest Babette Babich, must write that review of Clinton Hutton), and there are so many good writers out there. To my surprise, quite a few of them are friends of mine and I don’t want to offend them.

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    • I like your examples from your teens! As you say, I still want to read everything I can! And yes, other reading does make its demands on one’s time too. Choices! Sigh…

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      • The problem of working in an intellectual field. One’s pleasure and one’s work overlap so damn’ much. Thus, I’m reading about two novels at once (one very trashy, one pretty decent), plus trying to finish Clinton’s book on Morant Bay, since I owe Kim Robinson a review, plus I’ve really got to finish Babette Babich’s book on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ because I’m assigning it in a grad course, plus I’ve got papers to grade, plus there is no time for me, or Gail, or anything else I swear….

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  4. I avoid airport bookstores, love second hand bookstores, but find that I am associating with all manner of audio books on LibriVox. Would you mind replying with the name of the excellent Sixth Form teacher?

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