Monday, January 12, 2009

The Year of Book Gluttony

I am in love with words. I'm a reader, a maker of lists of favorite words, a sniffer of old books, a language junkie. Not content to read one book at a time, I'm a polyamorous reader; I prefer to spread my book love promiscuously, reading 2, 3, even 4 books at once. I am a book glutton. There, I said it.

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, 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 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.

Happy Reading!

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.


  1. Anonymous1:18 PM

    Hurrah! We can be book challenge buddies :) I plan to watch your progress ^_^ I definitely understand the crafting / reading issue! There's never enough time to do both. But I need to change that. I think I'll read up on BookCrossing. Thanks for the link. It's hard for me to let go of books though :( *hugs her bookshelf*

    Have a great start to your week hun!

  2. I like the phrase "polyamorous reader". I love to read but getting through all the Textbooks for school kills it for me. I also feel it takes from knitting/spinning/ dyeing time. So I listen to books more on audio, which, is not the same. But at least I get time, to knit and it is frees up wt while traveling for things like, yarn. I read 4 books over my break and download 3 audio for my trip home. Knitting needles are not allowed through Lima security, I know I tried. Good luck with the book challenge.

  3. Well, Big Man didn't have one, and questioned why I was buying one when I realized there wasn't one in the house after a big move. But he makes up for it by being sweet and taller than me.

    I think we'd get along well book-wise. After I exhausted the reading materials in the house around age 12, my mom sighed and said "well, go read the encyclopedias!". Those 1965 era World Book volumes didn't stand a chance.

  4. i am having the same issue with words the last few years. what is up with that? i am totally up for a book challenge this year...i'm almost done with Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (I have a thing for modern Japanese fiction), am picking 1491 back up hoping to start one or two more as we unpack our books over the next few days. it was really hard to decide which books would be in storage for the next several months and which would come to the temporary digs. i am also guilty of being unfaithful to my current reads...

  5. Anonymous11:28 PM

    We are going to call you soon :) I want to talk to you and V does too! I'll let you know when.

    M & V

  6. Anonymous5:43 PM

    This is fantastic! I would love to join the book challenge, but I'm a bit scared... I am also guilty of being unfaithful to my current reads--I have YET to get all the way through Last Child in the Woods, despite how badly I want to read it. Do non-adult books count toward the annual count? I teach 3rd grade, so some of my recreational reading is a bit adolescent. I need to find a new "fun" book to read, but then I'm in!

    ps. I LOVE that you have footnotes for your blog! Fab!

    pps. Have you read Shadow Baby? the young girl narrator has an endearing love of words.


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