Project Check-In: Reading

This year, I'm reading all the books we have (with some exceptions) before buying new books. It's been an interesting journey so far (slowed somewhat by my decision to read an issue of The New Yorker every weekday during Lent).

In no particular order, here are a few thoughts:

1. I have read several "just fine" novels in a row. One was for a book club; we picked it because it was by an author I'd long been interested in trying (and I got it from the library). The rest were already in the house and I'd picked them up on sale somewhere. They were...fine. Just fine. Some were Canadian; some American. All absolutely fine, but no more gripping/fantastic than that. I may read other work by these writers, but I'm not sure I'd buy it in hardcover. These are the kinds of books that gradually fall to the bottom of the stack because something shinier comes along. I'm happy to have read them, finally. Fine-ally, haha.

2. I read a short story anthology that was both tiresome and fascinating. I'm so glad I picked it up when I did (several years ago). I have added a few new authors to watch for; their work intrigued me. That part was very satisfying. I didn't love the anthology enough to keep it nearby, and I'm still not sure where it will end up (donate? at one of the camps?), but I don't have to decide that this very moment.

3. Speaking of where the books end up: before this year, when I've finished a book but not known what to do with it, I have taken it to the little camp where my sister and I stay when she comes up for vacation, and where I sometimes go to hang out and read and write. This summer, my sister picked up, read, and opined upon several books from our camp's bookshelves (they've become part of the scenery for me). It was interesting to hear her perspective and realize just how few of those books I remembered. So I'm culling from there, too. It's definitely a convenient resting place for books when I don't need them in the house but am not sure I'm ready to get rid of them.

5. I read a novel by a famous "classic" writer from the 20th century and came away mystified. Again, this was for a book club, and I probably wouldn't have finished it otherwise (and I hardly ever give up on books). I'll look at a short story collection someday, but only one, and I'm not in a huge hurry to do it. Though I'm probably wiser for the experience of reading this novel, I'd have traded it for another "just fine" one.

So far, I've thoroughly enjoyed the virtuous feeling I get from this "reading what I own" project, and I feel I'm learning as much by reading these selections as I would if I were chasing the newest "great reads." It's also made me a more considered consumer--as I hear of a new novel, I automatically think, "Would I really want that in the house?" I may even sign up for another year. But who knows--this final four-month period may make me long for something new and shiny again.