The Ever-Growing Book List

A portion of the book stack that awaits me next to my bed.

A portion of the book stack that awaits me next to my bed.

I just finished reading a marvelous book of essays about Chicago and Chicagoans, Neil Steinberg’s You Were Never in Chicago, recommended by a friend. It was educational, engaging, and made me think a lot about what makes Chicago unique and what makes someone a Chicagoan. It also left me further behind in my planned/desired reading than I was when I started it.

(“How does this happen?” she asks, rhetorically.)

I know I’m not unique in this, but every time I read a good book, I walk away from it with a list of other books that it has made me want to read. In this case, I got off pretty easy (as we always said where I grew up), with only two books added to my reading list: Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie and A.J. Liebling’s Second City, which provided the inspiration for Steinberg’s title.

Meanwhile, I was invited to another friend’s next book club meeting, to discuss a book I love, John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I am considering doing but which would require that I reread that marvelous book first—a treat if I do it, but yet another book added to the list. On top of that, I glanced through NPR’s Best Books of 2015 list and wound up pulling out my public library app and putting in requests for at least eight other books. (Warning: Best books lists are rabbit holes from which you might never emerge.)

My current library books.

My current library books.

In the course of the last two or three weeks, I’ve read about 1 1/2 books but added about a dozen to my reading list. Even before that, I had more than a half-dozen new-ish books waiting for me in a stack next to my bed, each of which managed to call out my name in a bookstore and subsequently jump into a purchase bag. You don’t even want to know the sum total of books on my reading list at this point. I’m afraid to count them up.

Behinder and behinder I get.

It’s a nice problem to have, of course. I always have interesting reading on hand, can always find a book to take on a trip or fill an evening or weekend when I just can’t get to the bookstore or library. I have poetry, novels, non-fiction, a broad range of choices, variety enough that there’s always something on hand to draw me in.

My life is richer, even though I know that I can’t possibly ever read everything on the list. I can’t keep adding multiple books for every one I read and ever hope the list will dwindle. The math is just wrong:

Book-Girl-Waits-With-Gun1 + 3 ≠ -1


Ah, well (she says with a smile). Back to my reading.

Here’s the one I’m in the middle of now: Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits With Gun. I have the NPR book list to thank for this one. If you’re wondering, I’m about one-third of the way in and enjoying it.

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