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Pickle Me This

January 9, 2017

To List, or Not to List

The scene: our bedroom, 11:50 on Thursday night. Stuart has turned out his lamp and rolled over to go to sleep, but my light is shining and there are urgent matters still to be discussed before the night is out. I’m thinking about Vicki Ziegler’s blog post about the books diary she’s been keeping since 1983

Me: Stuart—I have to talk to you about something.

Stuart: Mmm?

Me: Remember when I used to keep a list of all the books I read?

Stuart: Yeah.

Me: I stopped doing that—it seemed a bit less obsessive-compulsive to just read the books.

Stuart: Okay.

Me: But sometimes I worry, like I should have been keeping track, but I haven’t.

Stuart: Uh huh.

Me: I mean, I write about books on my blog, and there’s Goodreads, and if I really wanted to go back and compile a list, I could. I just don’t need to. Which is kind of a positive thing, I guess. Not a bad way to be.

Stuart: No?

Me: And I think probably what I am doing is the least bananas scenario, right? Being in the moment, just reading what I want to read. It’s what normal people do. A sign of good mental health.

Stuart: No.

Me: What?

Stuart: Normal people read books, or maybe they keep track in a list. But YOU have managed to not keep a list and also worry about not keeping a list, which is the most bananas way of all to be. It’s kind of amazing.

Me: You probably want to go to sleep.

Stuart: Yep.

Me: Good night.

Stuart: Schnurpzzzz.

9 thoughts on “To List, or Not to List”

  1. theresa says:

    I have this conversation all the time (with myself…) and it’s vexing. I want to have bookgaga’s notebook with those gorgeous lists. But I don’t. And it’s too late now. And maybe one day I’ll need to prove that I have read all those books. Oh brother.

  2. Melwyk says:

    I’ve been keeping a list, just title and author in a notebook, since 1995. And I also really wish I’d have kept it during university, but oh well; I also began it after graduating. It’s kind of amazing, just that simple list. I don’t have dates in it, unlike Vicki’s — except for the volumes of Proust – I did note the start and end dates for that!

  3. Diane Schoemperlen says:

    Love this! I too have kept a list of all the books I’ve read since 1977, all dated like Vicki’s.. I started doing it by hand in a pretty notebook but switched over to doing it on the computer about 20 years ago. I wish I hadn’t switched!

  4. Beth Kaplan says:

    Okay, I’m in – though I’ve had a diary and then a blog for decades, I didn’t specifically track the books I read. But now I will. Another resolution, but this one, what fun to keep.

  5. Kate says:

    I started mine just over ten years ago, inspired by an article in the New Yorker on the Art Garfunkel Library. I’m mostly not neurotic about it, I hope. Been meaning to do some analysis – favourites, frequencies, etc – so this post was a good reminder.

  6. But of course, even after he went to sleep (which is really bananas – for better, for worse, for all-things-bananas) you kept thinking about it. You’re still thinking about it, aren’t you. 🙂

    1. Kerry says:


  7. Julia says:

    LOVED THIS. It’s pretty much exactly how conversations w/my mister go before bed. In the end, he always manages to re-convince me that I’m even more bananas than he initially thought!

  8. I am obsessive about lists and tracking all sorts of things. I use goodreads for books, but I keep a list of movies that I see. And I write down whether I saw them in a theatre or if they were a documentary or not. I’m not sure why. I just like tracking things.

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