River of Books

Literature-vs_-Traffic-in-Toronto-by-Luzinterruptus-2-1020x610A few years ago, a group of artists filled an entire city street in Toronto with open books — talk about traffic calming! The interactive exhibit lasted the 10 hours it took for spectators to immerse themselves in it and self-dismantle it, taking the books home. The photo is from a slide show about the installation at https://inhabitat.com/a-river-made-of-10000-glowing-books-flows-through-toronto/

I think about that river of books when I log into goodreads.com. Before discovering this “social cataloging” website, I was always going to read, but never quite got there. I would buy books and stack them up, and then move the stacks to the closet to make more room for books. Stacks buried stacks. I checked books out of the library or borrowed them from the Little Free Library, but would give up on reading them by the time I needed to get them back. The books I agreed to read for the Chamber success study group or the church book club went unread until the last minute before meeting. And then there were the Post-It note reminders of books to read, and to-do lists of books buried in word documents on the computer.

Since opening my own reader page on goodreads.com, my reading in the past year has increased. I started by logging in all the books I wanted to read – over 200! Then I joined the 2018 reader challenge and made a goal to read 25 books this year. I’m on track, with 12 read so far. I selected four to five books at a time to read – an easy one, a challenging one, a Chamber book, a book-club book, and a contemporary book that everyone is talking about.

I love logging in to “update my progress.” The percentage graph gives me the same “ring the bell” that those grade school or summer library programs did, where you get a prize for every five books you read – a coupon for an ice cream cone – or you progress to the next color reading tabs in the book program.

Now, when I’m done reading a book, I politely leave a review — at least a line or two to share with prospective readers about why I liked it. I don’t write smarmy reviews to help friends who write, and I don’t write bad reviews. If I don’t like a book, or can’t finish it, I simply remove any evidence that I had tried to read it.

I pass on books I’ve read to others, by donating them to the church share bin or giving them out to travelers who pass through the visitor center where I volunteer. Books are meant to be read, not stacked on closet shelves. I do keep a handful that I know I will read again, mostly memoirs.

Finally, I have begun to be a part of the goodreads.com community. I friend other 0501181106_resized (2)readers I know, to get their recommendations on books, and I follow writers I know from Virginia or North Carolina, so that when they blog on their author pages, I will see their posts in my goodreads.com reader feed.

If you want to challenge yourself to read more this summer, and keep track of your reading progress, try goodreads.com if you haven’t already.



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