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Recently I trimmed my To Read list to around 100 books, down from 160. Why? Well, I’ve long been aware of the likeliness I won’t survive it, especially with how I cheat on my list. Prodigiously.

It can be disconcerting to stare your mortality in the mouth with each log-in to a website that is intended to provide hours of . . . you know, nerd-alicious, collect-em-all delight (as well as sell me things. Don’t play coy, social media. We know.)

I’d been telling myself for months, seasons, years, to aggressively trim my To Read list. Only the books I honestly want to read; that I’m likely to. Nothing I’ve already read and wish to read again (count those ‘done’). None of those coquettish frips that briefly turn my gaze during a bookstore browse or library-stack wander, web crawl.

Truly, the browse must be considered the enemy of all tidy, thoughtfully curated To Read lists. The browse will skillfully and blithely seduce your partner, steal your bosom buddies, and convince your parents that honestly?, it would have made a better child.

It’s a home wrecker, the browse. I love it. By which I mean I succumb to it. Often.

Exhibit A as to why my To Read list never got any shorter, no matter how I apply myself to ordering library books online, shortly delivered straight to my grubby paws. (Digital library catalogues are an amazing, boundless, fortuitous magic. If you haven’t yet availed yourself –don’t. There’s no room for you. It’s for ME.)

Borrowing from comedians, I’ve transformed my problem into a punch line: I’m not going to survive my reading list! (Hahah! Lets joke about our deaths.) I know for a fact that I cannot claim a speck of originality. Plenty of people pre-mourn their lives; some even produce clever, pictographic charts that terrify my friends.

The awful truth is, of course, that my Goodreads To Read list is by no means comprehensive. Why? Because I read nearly everything. Blame a life-long habit instilled by my parents. Blame curiosity. Heck, blame the printing press and desktop publishing! Everywhere I go, something to read . . .

Non-exhaustive list of reading treasures traps:

  • Books – picture books, chapter books, novels, cookbooks, craftbooks, feminist theory, African American experience, fantasy, organizing, productivity, lite Buddhism, etc.
  • The funnies, comic books, graphic novels
  • Magazines
  • Zines
  • Circulars
  • Instructions
  • Newsletters
  • Flyers
  • Mail
  • Better mail (personal letters! postcards!)
  • Notes my mother writes on the backs of envelopes to detail the number of remaining eggs in the ‘fridge
  • The Internet (what, you don’t read the Internet?)
  • Blogs
  • Emails (sorta . . . less and less)
  • Multi-year fanfiction binges
  • Subway/bus ads
  • Cereal boxes (back when I used to eat cereal; I miss you Puffins!)
  • Personal care and Dr. Bronner product labels (OKAY???!!)

Thankfully, there are also things I don’t read:

  • Signs – especially anything over 10 feet tall/wide
  • The endless barrage of sales pitches from credit cards and my retirement plan
  • Names – if my brain doesn’t feel like sounding them out (I blame you, sci-fi & fantasy authors)
  • SHAMELESS, COPIOUS ALL CAPS (gah! stop shouting)
  • Lame circulars
  • Political campaign anything (except for postcards, those are short)
  • Flyers displaying 5+ fonts or bold type layered thicker than newsprint on a piñata

What about you? Say you meet your reading list in an alley and, zimbo-bapo!, you magically gain martial arts skillz . . . WHO WILL WIN?!

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