Monday, March 28, 2005

Book Lists of Many Shapes and Sizes

A few days ago, my mom asked me to order some books for her via the Internet. I decided to check out what deals my Book Club was running and discovered that they had one that would enable me to order a few books for myself as well; however, I'm so accustomed to purusing bookshelves, thumbing through thousands of titles, for finds that I didn't have any ideas about what I might like. Plus, I've recently taken trips to used-book bookstores and had my most immediate book needs met, so I decided to take a look at my favorite links and blogs to see what other people were reading.

That's when I discovered an interesting confluence of themes in my life, namely lists. Not only did I need to create a list for my book club, but friends have been asking me what my favorite books are, and I've also been intending to post a wish list for quite some time. For some reason, memes concerning book lists seem to have become a popular subject among blogs and especially book-related blogs (go figure). You can see an example of how quickly a list can become a meme at The Little Bookroom.

The meme featured at The Little Bookroom asks which authors one has read ten or more books by. Here's my list:

L.M. Montgomery
Louisa May Alcott's (pretty close to ten if not ten)
C.S. Lewis
Jane Austen (it will be ten once I read her letters
Patricia Cornwell
Roald Dahl
William Shakespeare
Robert Graves (sometimes I feel like he's a drug--I feel like I have to read him and them I'm angry that I have afterwards)
Can I count the Bronte sisters all together?
Robert Browning
Edgar Allen Poe
Marguerite Duras

Well on the way to ten?
A.S. Byatt
The Bronte sisters (if combined--It's not fair, I know.)
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Muriel Spark
Theodore Dreiser

The list simply made me realize that I wished many of these authors had written more!

On my search to find things I'd like to read, I found an interesting meme, called The One Book List. Apparently, over twenty years ago, an individual put out a call for forming a list of the most beloved books, and The One Book List resulted. The list began with about a hundred selections and has grown to well over six hundred books. Now, that's a list to occupy even the most of avid of book readers. In my search for book recommendations, I also found The List of Bests and Great Book Lists.

It was interesting to see what makes the cut and what doesn't. It also gave me more direction in selecting future reads because I realize which books I have appreciated the most, and, seeing other peoples book lists, reminds me of books that I've intended to read but have put aside in favor of others. Perhaps, as I have with old friends, it's time for me to return to those I've neglected in favor of the more novel (yes, I know that's a terrible pun).

On another note, the combination of other people's lists and my own encouraged me to buy more books! Here's my bookshelf, that is, a list of my book wants/wishes (to name a few). Now, though I have the list at Powells, that's not my only wish list or where I'll necessarily buy my books. The expense of my book buying practices could rival the cost of a mild drug habit, so I search out the best prices I can find. I'm looking into Amazon, Daedulus, used bookstores, local bookfairs, and so on. The Powells list is just a way for me to organize my own wish list. (It's much more efficient than my trying to remember titles or writing them down on little scraps of paper that find there way into another dimension--probably the same one where half of my socks end up when I wash them.)