If you could read my mind

I’ve long thought a good way to learn what a someone’s about is to look at his bookshelves — what someone chooses to read is a good glimpse into what goes on in her mind.

Or something like that.

From looking at our bookshelves you might surmise that we’re very messy and compulsive book-buyers. You’d be correct. Both of our nightstands are piled with books, too.

I’ve been on a reading binge since finals ended – the massive reading required for 12 hours of grad school knocked out time to read for pleasure, so in the last month I finished “Gang Leader for a Day,”  by Sudhir Venkatesh and flew through:

“The Reader” (Bernhard Schlink)

“The Other Wes Moore” (Wes Moore)

“The Corrections” (Jonathan Franzen) 

“The Olive Garden” (Deborah Rohan)

Now I’m 52 pages into “A Woman Among Warlords” by Malalai Joya. I’ve already broken  my promise to myself to keep to a pattern of nonficton/fiction/nonfiction/etc., so I’ll probably alternate the engrossing but sober memoir by an Afghani activist – and outspoken critic of her government (and ours) – with something lighter.

Heavy nonfiction binges can be bad for mental health.

Juggling books was something I learned to do as an English major many years ago. Before that, I read voraciously but only one book at a time. John’s still kind of baffled by how I can jump around, bookwise.

He was also a bit taken aback by my decision several years ago that I didn’t have to finish a book just because I started it. No, it’s not tidy to leave things unfinished, but life’s too short for bad or boring books.

In my book, anyway.

Give my hubby an engrossing book, and he’ll knock it out in record time. He just read Stephen King’s massive “11/23/63” in just under a week, I think it was. 

When I was a teenager, I decided it would be really smart to make an index card for each book I read, noting when I read it, what it was about and what I thought about it. That never happened. Damn shame; would’ve been easy and supercool to have, but commitment was not my long suit.

(Don’t ask me about my “daily” journal entries for creative writing class in high school. I’m not talking, but I will say that my experience as a student made me a fairly sympathetic creative writing teacher years later.)

If I’d made those cards, I wouldn’t have read half of “A Simple Plan,” which I was really enjoying, before realizing I’d read it when it was first published. Oh, well, it was good enough to read again.

Books that I love I read over and over anyway – on purpose. But so many books remain unread that I’m trying not to re-do the greatest hits for a while.

Malalai Joya quotes a proverb her father used to recite to her: “Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are.”

I love that — the proverb and the mind-reading.

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