Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Time Enough At Last
One of my favorite classes that I've taken as a Religious Studies major was a class on Mysticism. We read the works of mystics in all three of the Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity). I kept the books I bought for the class because I enjoyed reading them so much and we nowhere near covered all the material in them in the 3 months we had for the class. So, have I read them in the two years since taking the class? Barely.
Like most book junkies I have a "to read" list that is a mile long. I have an entire bookcase devoted to books that I've bought and haven't yet read. That's in addition to the 2 bookcases that I have full of books that I have read, and the assorted piles of books that are scattered all over the house.
My SO is also a book junkie. She has 3 bookcases overflowing with mixed read and unread and her bedside nightstand is crammed full of books as well. Her books are mostly fiction - fantasy, mysteries, sci-fi, suspense - with a sprinkling of non-fiction: mathematics, physics, language tutorials, and a nice collection of theological books from when she studied religion in Grad school. She's on a vampire mystery kick right now so we have a lot of books around the house with "blood" in the title.
My books are mostly non-fiction - religion, sociology, psychology, science, metaphysical new-age, and travel/adventure memoirs; my fiction collection consists primarily of Star Trek novels, CSI crime dramas, and the Harry Potter books.
Between the two of us we could open a bookstore and have most of the sections covered.
I love books. I'm like Burgess Meredith in that Twilight Zone episode where he was locked in a bank vault and ended up being the sole survivor of a nuclear explosion, yet he was ecstatic because now he had all the time in the world to read and there was no one around to bother him. Of course he ended up stepping on his eye glasses and could no longer see his precious books, which prompted Rod Serling to pop up and prattle on about irony and what a miserable man our Burgess was for valuing books over people blah blah blah.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…the hell with morals, we're talking about BOOKS here Rod, BOOKS!
Poor Burgess….he was living my worst nightmare.
I tend to read three books at a time. I'll read something inspirational during my morning prayer time, like a sermon collection or theological text - something that is best read and digested in small chunks. Then I'll have a main book which I can pick up at any point during the day (right now it's a Star Trek novel) and finally, I read a few pages from something else theological in nature before I go to bed (but I do it after I read more of my Star Trek book and before I do my nightly Sudoku).
I'm a 'sampler' when it comes to books - a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
I'll go to the bookstore and come home with books from multiple genres and read them simultaneously in little chunks at a time over the course of a month.
My SO is a 'devourer' - she'll find a mystery or fantasy series that she likes and she'll buy the author's entire catalogue at once and read them all over the course of a week.
I tend to read a lot less of my own backlog of books when I'm taking a class that is reading intensive. Since I'm only taking 'clase de espanol' this semester I have a lot more time for fun reading. Which brings me back to the mystics. A few weeks back one of the RevGalBlogPals (I can't remember which one, sorry!) blogged about how despite her best intentions she could never find time to read the works of the great Christian thinkers. As a full-time pastor her day quickly filled up with must-do-now stuff leaving her with little time for contemplative reading. As a solution she set about scheduling her reading time in her daily planner. What was inventive about this is that she'd schedule it as a lunch date with a particular writer, for example: "1 pm - Lunch with Julian of Norwich" or "11:00 am - Brunch with John of The Cross."
So I have stolen her idea and have been scheduling a noon-time rendezvous with the writers I want to spend more time with. Today I lunched with Thomas Merton. On Friday I have a date with Teresa of Avila.
Yea, it's corny (and a bit weird in a theological nerd sort of way) but it works for me!
Thanks blogger-who-I-can't-remember! (and if anyone knows who came up with this idea please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due).
In the meantime, I'm going to go build a bomb shelter for me and my SO and stock it with lots and lots of books…AND an extra pair of eye glasses.