Monday, November 15, 2004

Once upon a time...

...I had a book box. Okay, I still do. You're wondering what a "book box" is, aren't you? Well, just before graduating from college, I decided to make a real effort to get back into reading, because it is something that I have loved for as long as I can remember. But you know how it goes -- there is so much forced reading when you are going through school that there is hardly time for any pleasure reading.

As luck would have it -- okay, it's just because I find it hard to throw things away -- I had kept a "suggested reading list for AP English" from high school which listed 151 titles of literature including novels, plays and a few poems. Here is where you will discover my true...I don't know, nerdiness? Maybe just strangeness. I wrote each title and its author on a small slip of paper, folded it, and dropped it into a small cardboard box. The idea was to read everything in the box, but to make it more interesting, I would not know what I would be reading next. So, in mid-July, 1999, I held up the book box, shook it, and pulled out one of the slips of paper. Anna Karennina was my first selection.

I only had two rules for my book box. I had to read what had been drawn from the box -- no trading -- with only one exception, which was the second rule: I could not read the same author twice in a row. In over five years, I have only once broken rule number one, and even then I replaced the book I was currently reading (Tristram Shandy, yuck) with a much larger one: The Lord of the Rings.

I am currently reading Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor. I believe it is my sixty-second selection. I mentioned that the original list contained 151 titles of literature, but as I have told many people about my book box, they all seem to want to add something to the box. I ask for one suggestion, and I believe I've added every suggestion (minus one, but I'll get to it soon enough!) to the box. I know at one point there were about 206 titles in the box because of all the wonderful suggestions I was given.

I read, on average, one selection a month. That means that if I do not add to the list I could be done with my book box when I'm in my early 40's. But I'm assuming the reading will really slow down once we have kids! I don't think I'd ever want to be done with my book box. It is too much fun. I know that there are those of you who despise reading (something I find hard to understand), but there are also those of you who are like me and absolutely devour books, be they old musty library books, e-books, or audio books. And I have several friends and acquaintances who have since started their own book boxes, so I'm very glad to have passed the book box trend along to others.

I may be crazy doing this, but if you feel you have a great reading selection please let me know so I can add it to the box! And I would love to hear of anything you do that is similar to my book box idea.
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