Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pamela Paul's "Books I Have Read" List and Mine

"Bob." That is the name Pamela Paul, a New York Times Book Review editor, gives the notebook in which she keeps a list of books she has read. "Book of Books" = "Bob." I enjoyed reading Paul's essay about Bob in the 4/15/12 NYT Book Review. But when she spoke of having kept her list for 24 years, I had to smile, with just a tiny touch of -- I admit it! -- superiority. Although I have never given it a name, I have kept such a list since earlyish childhood (see my posts about this when I first started this blog, on 1/24/10 and 1/25/10), for a total (so far!) of - ahem! - 51 years! I am now in "Volume III" -- which simply means in my third plain lined school notebook -- and have read a total of 5231 books (some are repeats). Paul and I differ a little bit in our list method. For example, she includes books she didn't finish, but marks them with "inc." for "incomplete"; I do not list unfinished books at all. She occasionally notes where she was when she read a certain book (China, France); I have not done that. I occasionally note whether the book is a repeat read, and whether I listened to the book in audio form. A similarity is the condition of the notebooks. She says "Bob is showing his age. At some point I spilled coffee on him; the gray cover is mottled, and one corner is woody and bare." My "Volume I," a notebook bought from the school supply store at my school in India, with the name of the Indian town on it, is worn at the edges, and Volume II shows some signs of age as well. But despite the large disparity in the number of years Paul and I have kept our notebooks of "books read" lists, we both value our lists very highly. Paul claims that "Were my house to burst suddenly into flames, I would bypass the laptop and photo order to rescue Bob," and I completely understand that statement!

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