Pondering on those interminable book lists

Cover of my book of books
Book of Books

Yet again, I have to account for a long blogging gap on the Landing Book Shelves, as it has been a few months since my last optimistic post. Yet again, I am trying to get back into a reasonable writing routine. In fairness it’s not that I haven’t been writing (or reading for that matter) but that I have been writing letters and emails instead of blog posts. In addition to that are bits of writing for work so I have been attempting to keep my hand in. Sadly, it means that the Landing has been getting neglected and dusty once again. And of course, as I mentioned in my last post, technically the Landing Book Shelves doesn’t exist anymore, being now an imaginary landing. No stairs, no landing, but of course still book shelves, which is the main thing. As is inevitable in a move, much has been relocated and many books are still not really in their ideal place. 

As a form of book blogger procrastination, I have recently been downloading my library borrowing history for the last few years. It’s as good an occupation as any for an autumn evening and my rationale (excuse?) for doing this is that I am going through a phase of puzzling flashes of déjà vu about odd bits of plot and conversation. Had I read this particular book before and forgotten most of it? It is unnerving to think that I may have completely forgotten having read a particular book, so I thought that I would remind myself of what I have read (or at least what library books I have read) in recent years. It’s taken me a while as I have been combing through the list taking out DVDs and books for my fellow readers in the house (they know who they are!)

In addition to this list, I used to jot titles in a couple of old notebooks, of my reads each year but that lapsed as a regular habit a few years ago. Hence my interest in my library account history. Having downloaded the library list, I am now not quite sure what to do with it. Somehow, retaining a digital list doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the original notebook list going back into the early 1990s. It lacks a certain bookish charm shall we say. But, the thought of transcribing a couple of hundred or so titles into a notebook is daunting. To add to this digital list, I am accumulating yet another digital list (footprint?) of the audio books that I have downloaded from the library website. Now this list only dates back to earlier in the year so it is much shorter (at least at the moment!).

And finally, let me not forget to mention the list of books that I have yet to read. This is worse than the TBR pile, but it has at least the advantage of taking up less room in the house than a physical stack of books. It does however exist in a variety of places, which makes it a rather slippery thing to audit. I have an official notebook for titles that I come across, but in reality, I tend to jot them down in any notebook that comes to hand. This means that I come across random jottings, months or even years after the fact. Occasionally these notes can be very cryptic, if I only had a bit of information to hand and not complete title, author, publisher etc. Even more cryptic are the dread scraps of paper and Post It notes tucked away for safe keeping!

So, what purpose these lists? And should I just stop keeping them up?  Who is going to be interested in my reading archive? The problem is that I think I would miss compiling my reading lists, even if keeping them up has become patchy in recent years. The lists provide a literary trip down memory lane now and again. It amuses me to remind myself of what I was reading for instance, in 1993, which is the year of my earliest entries. Off the top of my head, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what I read in any given year, but once I look at the list, it all comes flooding back to me. Well mostly. Sometimes I simply have no recall of a particular book. I was also relieved to pin down one suspected case of déjà vu: I had previously caught snatches of the audio version at my mum’s house.  Phew!

To sum up the situation, I have lots of lists about books (both actual, virtual, read and unread) and I have no idea whether this is a good, necessary or sensible thing or not. Any thoughts?

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