But it's weird: I don't learn new words anymore. I look up the same words, over & over. How do I know this? Confession time: I still have - and use religiously - the dictionary I got my first semester in college in 1982, and I mark it whenever I look up a a word. Underline for the first definition check, an interpunct ( · ) for the 2nd one and a highlighter wielded the 3rd time. I misplaced my dictionary for a stretch, and was forced to limp along with only Cole's Encarta World Dictionary, a sorry substitute for my well-thumbed Webster's New World.1 Recently I've taken to circling alien words in the books as I read them, recording their definitions inside the back covers. My journals are filled with not just lists of books I've read, but also with the words I've investigated. And I am no slouch when it comes to flaunting my vocabulary, either; I have no problem peppering my speech with as many instances of 'fatuous', 'feckless', and 'furbelow' as f-bombs.2 But have I lost my ability to retain new words? Maybe I just require a 4th foray into my trusty dictionary for them to stick.
But what the hell does all this have to do with 2009 being the Year of Book Gluttony at Case Velma? I've taken the 30 Books in '09 challenge issued by Sinta of Knittering.com, that's what. (She's also a Raveler, so she gets the crafting-book tug-o-war I struggle with.) I have until midnight on December 31 of this year to complete 30 books of my choice. This dovetails nicely with my (as yet unposted) desire to read more in 2009; after starting to enter all books into my 'virtual shelves' on LibraryThing, I had already set a goal of reading at least one box of unread titles from my library this year.
Anyone fancy joining me in this challenge? It would be great to get more people reading. Don't forget: reading is fundamental!
Currently, I'm reading The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. A quick and, if you enjoy botany-lite or history, very pleasant read, I am mid-way through the chapter on marijuana and its knack for satisfying the human desire for intoxication. I'm flying through this section, as it is a subject I know more about than the preceding apple and tulip treatises. ;) Want to read my mini-reviews? Check out my GoodReads page.
I also (finally) jumped on the BookCrossing.com bandwagon in December; I've liberated two books into the wild now, and one was found and logged! It is now traveling again, along with the 2nd title, which I released yesterday at Los Bagels. If you are in Arcata, keep your eyes out. (The photo above is from my trip to town for the release; took advantage of our balmy weather for a cuppa and a bagel and a read before leaving the book for some lucky passerby. Want to see more about the books I've put into circulation? My BookCrossing shelf and profile have all the details.
1 At least he owns a dictionary! It's a bad sign when your man doesn't feel the need to consult a dictionary from time to time; a deal-breaker, to tell you the truth. Ask me how I know.
2 But I have to admit that collecting only 'reading words' has it's drawbacks; I once challenged someone - twice! - over the pronunciation of 'ebullient'. After not only consulting their dictionary but also my own, I had to concede that I was, in fact, in error. Go figure.