Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Banish the Guilt!

New Year's resolutions are not for me.  Other than my perennial resolutions to eat less, drink less, swear less; be kinder to children, animals, and old people; and to keep my room clean, I don't make resolutions as a rule.

But there is a bookish resolution that has been nagging at me for a while.  So, inspired by a great essay, On Guilt and Reading, on Bella's Bookshelves, I am taking the Reading Resolution plunge.  My resolution is to tackle my Guilt List and stop taking books if I don't think I'll get to them within a month or two -- without feeling guilty about it!

Let me back up.  I never feel guilty about the (according to my LibraryThing tags) 1196 books on my TBR shelves. Or even the fact that I converted a spare bedroom to a library just to hold them for me. I figure that as far as time-sucking, money-gobbling hobbies go, buying more books than I can read is pretty benign.  I could have a boat, for example.

What I do feel guilt about is my stack of books from publishers, authors, and publicists that I don't get around to reading.  True, I didn't ask for all of them -- some just arrived out of the blue. But most of them are books I asked for or agreed to take and now, months later, they are still sitting there.  This "Guilt List" gets to me.

Right now, the books on my Guilt List are, in roughly the order I received them:

  1. The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott
  2. Soldiers in Hiding by Richard Wiley
  3. Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland Jazz 1942-1957 by Robert Dietsche
  4. An Architectural Guidebook to Portland by Bart King 
  5. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees
  6. To the Woods: Sinking Roots, Living Lightly, and Finding True Home by Evelyn Searle Hess 
  7. 42 States of Grace by Maureen Hovenkotter
  8. Where the Crooked River Rises: A High Desert Home by Ellen Waterston
  9. Fish With What You Find by Jim Gilsdorf
  10. Because You Might Not Remember by Don Colburn
  11. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
My resolution is to whittle this list down; to finish these books in a reasonable amount of time, although that may be longer than the generous people who gave them to me had in mind.  And, more important to my reading peace of mind, my resolution is to graciously refuse new books, unless I really know I will read them right away. 

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