Bookstores are dangerous places for avid readers. If you’re anyone like me, then you have a long list of books you’d like to read. Compound this list with the new books you check out from the library or the books that arrive by mail from your late night online shopping spree, and your monster-of-a-list keeps growing. I told myself at the start of the year that my resolution would be to read 10 books before I purchased anymore. I tried, I really did, but I only read 8 books before I started purchasing the next to be lined up. Like so many others, I face a dilemma. My problem is not that life keeps me from finding the time to read; rather, my rate of consumption does not match the rate at which books accumulate on my shelves. You see, I am a book addict.
Sure, I find myself working a lot more these days, now that I have to commute to my place of employment; I also want to spend time with my family whenever I’m not working; I have to invest into the garden, too, since Spring is upon us; and I have to sleep from time to time. This last one is usually forced on me, as I find myself rereading a lot of pages from the books I have started just before dozing off. If only reading worked like osmosis. But, these are not issues in the same way that other books are.
I always manage to find time to read. One solution to compensate for life’s callings has been to listen to audio books. I simply tune in to an audio book from the Overdrive Media Console while on my way to work. This simple app allows me to download audio MP3 books from the library I check out books from, and I listen to them on my hourly commute to work. It’s great because I get to read a book almost every week, depending on its length.
No, where the real problem lies is when I finish reading a physical book. The decision on which to pick up and read first is almost always a daunting process. I can never decide on which book because I own so many. Quite a few of the books I pick up with the intention to read get placed on hold for more immediate books that I have come into contact with, either from the free BargainBook box at the library or from what I buy at the various bookstores I frequent. There’s a used book store I like to visit that almost always contains a gem-of-a-book whenever I shop there, which I always feel pressured, self-imposed no doubt, to read once I bring it home.
Some books are more engaging than others, though. I usually read multiple books at any given time to compensate for those that require more attention. I like to read short stories, so I’ll read a story here and there (one over a cup of coffee in the morning, perhaps). I have several collections of essays that I enjoy reading through. I have been reading The Oxford Book of Essays off and on for well over a year now, but I don’t feel pressured to read it in its entirety. They’re essays, after all. Then, there’s the book I read just before I go to bed. This one takes the longest to work through for some reason. I have my books I simply want to read to savor and enjoy; my poetry books that I like to read when time permits for such leisurely reading; my books I need to read for work; my books to help advance myself professionally; my books for the personal research I’m doing. Looking at it like this, I think I need to focus my reading habits a bit more.
But then, there are books like this one. I am very excited to start reading this one book, the book I ordered from Amazon before I finished my reading resolution for the year. Umberto Eco’s The Book of Legendary Lands by Rizzoli exlibris publishing, 2013, finally arrived by post and what a beautiful book it is; so much so that I want to share some of its more enticing features with you:
The book cover is by Thomas Cole from The Voyage of Life: Childhood (1842) located in the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
The images throughout the book (shown below) are rendered in the most pristine quality, making their colors vibrant and an absolute pleasure to behold.
Here is another example of the beauty this book reveals. This marvel of a work is from Gustave Dore The Celestial Rose (1867), out of The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, canto XXXI.
I love books like this one by Eco, but they don’t help me make headway with those other books I’ve been collecting over the past couple of months. No, these books, like so many others before them, will be placed on hold, so that my curiosity about legendary lands, places I’d often read about as a boy, may be sated. Books like these only further my dilemma, but it is a dilemma I can learn to deal with. I may be slow and methodical in the way I read, what with all of the other obligations keeping me from working through my reading list; I may also find myself curious about newer books that are being published (or older ones that were once forgotten), but I love to savor a good book, regardless of what life throws my way. That, and I love to be surrounded by books, knowing full well that there will never be a dull moment in the near future. After all, there’s always a good book to be read.