For years my mother and I kept book lists. We had special journals in which we wrote the titles and authors of all the books we read; month by month, year by year. My mother went a step further in hers; she also wrote reviews on each book and assigned a number value. For instance, a really good book rated 9 or 10. Any book below 6 or 7 was usually in her view not worth reading.
For years we kept this up and went neck and neck up to the finish line; the last day of the year. The one who ended the year with the most books read had bragging rights for the coming new year.
One year in December we called each other nearly every night, crowing about the number of books we’d read. On the evening of December 31 we laughed our heads off because we had both read 140 books that year. That night, I made it my business to read one more book before midnight.
The next day when I called to wish Mom and Dad a happy New Year, I told mom about Number 141. Before she could start a diatribe about oneupmanship and downright sneakiness, I stopped her by saying “oh, please—you’re just mad because YOU didn’t think to do it yourself.”
She laughed and so did I. That year all was fair in love and reading. Since her death at 2015, I stopped keeping a booklist. At first I worried that I was being lazy. Then I realized that, without her competition it wasn’t really fun anymore.
I realized only the other day that I haven’t stepped into our local library for over two years. Instead, I find myself re-reading old favorites from my own book collection, and I often buy new books by authors I like. As with many other things, this has become my new normal.
It’s just part of change, and change is actually pretty good. There is nothing so comforting and calming as a good book. Does anyone remember the song that had this lyric in it: “I’d like to find a good book to live in”? There are many books I would like to live in myself.
Oh yes, and happy St. Patrick’s Day. I am Irish by adoption, so I always think of my grandmother on this day (and many others), whose people came from Galway. I now own one of my grandmother’s most cherished possessions, a tall and weighty crystal goblet from the Kelley side of my grandmother’s people. Each Christmas season, she would put that goblet in pride of place on the mantle in the living room, filled with striped mints. The sound of them being poured into the goblet always sounded like bells.
How I wish I had asked her more about th her Galway connections; now that would indeed be a good book to live in!