Friday, September 22, 2006

Books by Bites

I like reading about books more than I like reading books themselves. I’m not sure when this penchant for the précis became a well-ensconced preference. Surely it must have something to do with our news-bite culture. Isn’t a book just too long to read, when I can breeze through a review. Or perhaps I cherish a sense that the full knowledge and impact of the book will penetrate me by osmosis.

I like collecting lists of books. I have always had several tucked away in a drawer somewhere, starting with a list of 100 classics all school children were advised to read, around sixth grade. I may have read a half-dozen of these, but have managed to avoid Moby Dick and most of Hemingway. I still clip and save book reviews of novels and popular reading. Some of these I actually complete.

As an undergraduate, I assembled a list of sources about color and light. This topic still interests me, and I have updated the list on my wish list. I even tried to read one of the classics. Like so many other tomes lying about the house, it remains unfinished. In graduate school, I had research on topics related to labor history, labor organizing, community, and women and aging. The latter topic has sprouted into lists about women, aging, and identity in a paper file folder, a computer file, and at Maybe it will amount to something one day; maybe not.

My reading list includes books about running workshops, something I may have to do if I don’t get a permanent teaching position. What would my workshops teach? I toyed with color as a topic, but I haven’t done the reading. I also have a collection of books about journaling as workshop fodder. It sounds unpromising to me. As well, I've got books from a side trip into collecting reading about archetypes. My undergraduate teacher at New York University shaped a lifelong interest in the classic Greek myths. During the seventies, I pushed this into an exploration of Jungian psychology uses of archetypes, especially in astrology.

Today I browsed books on New Orleans. The dream of New Orleans, like the dream of having once been a newspaper writer, or the dream of a love than transcended time with a husband long, long, long gone, may be all that’s left. I embellish the past with misty nostalgia, tendrils of memory and love curling around the snapshots in my mind like morning glories in full bloom.

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