Saturday, December 3, 2011

Journal 96 Lists and the Count

I've been reading alot of poetry this week, specifically by Naomi Shihab Nye, an American poet form Missouri, whose poem, Kindness, I posted on my blog a few months ago, after reading it in the Oprah magazine.

I've read a few more this week, all of them stellar, lines like "If mystery was never your friend",
another poem called "Always Bring a Pencil", and one called "The List" which of course I was intrigued about, being a list-lover myself.

The poem's premise is that a man calculates all the books he will have time to read in his lifetime, and makes a list of them--she, Naomi, laments the 'forgotten' books, the ones that won't get read. Mike and I then had a discussion about the number of books that are read in a lifetime, the meter of a 'real' reader being 10, 000 books as gauged by Henry Miller, a true scholar 20,000.

Do the math--I read about a book a week, and if I do that for fifty years, I will still only get to about 2500. So far, it feels like way more. However, there is also my tendency to re-read, which probably sets me back a bit. Think about it--I am reading Magical Thinking for I think the fourth time. I am practically into the memorization stage with this book, learning how it works, as Didion explains as the reason her husband used to re-read books.

Suppose I live to be seventy, I started reading, seriously, at six, that gives me sixty-four years of an average book-a-week, and that still only brings me to 3328. Wow. That is really falling short of the 10,000 marker. And again, as I said, it feels like I'm reading, and have read, way more than that. You have to read a book a day for over thirty years to achieve this number, and although there are times when I do read a book a day (vacations, weekends, Christmas holidays, etc.) I don't do that every day, all year long. It's like running--I would love to run 10 k every day, every other day, but real life invades. The real life that involves my commute, my job, and all the time invested in that.

I would love to start cataloguing them, but somehow I think I would lose interest in this--it's the act of reading that I love, the escape, the 'high activity of the mind'.
"Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things" is how Naomi describes a young person's developing love of reading:

Story without corners.
She will have two families.
They will eat at different hours.

she will not be alone.
She will have a book to open
and open and open.
Her life starts here.

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