In any case, it's March, which means it's time for an update about my two resolutions for January and February. I resolved A) to not buy any more books, except possibly during my trip out to Yale to present at an academic conference, and B) to read only books I own, in an attempt to reduce the size of my to-read shelf. I'm delighted to report that I was successful on both counts. I didn't buy any books, even on my trip out to Connecticut (turns out that I didn't have any time to go looking for a used bookstore anyway). Nor have I succumbed to the siren call of the library books waiting on my shelf to be read.
In this time, I finished nine books/novellas, and it's almost ten, because I'm only about twenty pages from the end of Villette (and I would have finished that yesterday if not for my husband and I finally having free time yesterday to watch the season 3 finale of Downton Abbey). I read mostly Viragos; there's something so cheery yet seductive about their green spines sitting all in a block on my to-read shelf; they just cry out to be taken down and loved.
- *That's How It Was, Maureen Duffy
- *The Constant Nymph, Margaret Kennedy
- *The Glimpses of the Moon, Edith Wharton
- *One Fine Day, Mollie Panter-Downes
- *Gone to Earth, Mary Webb
- *The Shooting Party, Isabel Colegate
- *The Pilgrim's Progress (Part One), John Bunyan
- *Seducers in Ecuador, Vita Sackville-West
- *The Heir, Vita Sackville-West
I learned a couple of things from this process. It's really affirming to read books you've newly bought, because if (when) you enjoy them, you can pat yourself on the back for making smart book-purchasing choices. Second, even after two months of reading only from my to-read shelf, it's still a whole bookkshelf-and a half long. I could easily continue reading only from this collection and still not make a sizable dent. So perhaps it's a good thing that I didn't buy more books. It's also really nice to read books you own, especially when you travel. No worries about losing a library book in an airport or in another state. On the other hand, library books are often hardcover, which makes them far more durable. Carrying around a paperback in my tote bag to school every day started taking its toll on my books' covers and page edges. So now I've made off with a piece of fabric from our sewing box, and I use it as a remarkably low-tech and easy wrap for my books, which protects them from the other stuff in my bag (it was usually the tupperware that was harming my paperbacks).
I'm not intending to carry these two resolutions forward, but I think I'll be a little more likely to buy fewer books in the next little while and to keep reading books off my shelf. I'm dying to finish Villette (probably today), and I just started Mary Webb's Precious Bane. I've set aside The Pilgrim's Progress (Part Two) for the moment because I just wasn't feeling it - I may have had enough Calvinist legalism for a while.
However, I also have a few books out from the library that I'm eager to get to. As I mentioned, my husband and I just finished watching Downton Abbey's most recent season, and to fill the wait til the next season, I requested a number of related books, and I also have a few other miscellaneous library books to read:
- The World of Downton Abbey, Jessica Fellowes
- Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, Margaret Powell
- Lady Almira and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle, The Countess of Carnarvon
- Rose: My Life in Service, Rosina Harrison
- Cluny Brown, Margery Sharp - somebody recommended this so vehemently that it landed in my house from the library
- The Book on the Bookshelf, Henry Petroski - my husband, who adores books on how stuff works, loved this and read so many passages out loud to me that I decided I'd have to read it for myself
- Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James - sigh. I want to see what all the hype is about. And despite all of the other awesome books on this list, I'll have to read this one first because there's still a huge long waiting list so it's due soon.