Booked

Sun.Star Pampanga - - OPINOIOPNINION - ISOLDE D. AMANTE

FOR de­voted read­ers, the end of the year is a time of temp­ta­tion.

Ev­ery De­cem­ber, ed­i­tors of the Books sec­tions of the world’s best news­pa­pers re­lease lists of what they thought were the best ti­tles pub­lished dur­ing the year.

Now, if they pub­lished only one brief list, the temp­ta­tion these tor­men­tors cre­ated would be man­age­able. That would mean only 10 or 12 ti­tles made fa­mil­iar.

So, if I de­cided to head to the book­store to buy hol­i­day gifts, for ex­am­ple, the risks of see­ing a fa­mil­iar ti­tle and buy­ing it on im­pulse (i.e. “self-gift­ing”) would be min­i­mal.

Un­for­tu­nately, the crafty ed­i­tors of the Books sec­tion I fol­low is­sue not one list, but sev­eral. In ad­di­tion to “The 10 Best Books of 2016,” The New York Times also pub­lished last month “The Times Crit­ics’Top Books of 2016,” “The Best Photo Books of 2016,”

“The Best Il­lus­trated Chil­dren’s Books of 2016,” and “100 No­table Books of 2016.”

One frig­ging hun­dred. And that’s not the full list of their lists. As a re­sult, ev­ery time I buy books for some god­chil­dren or fa­vorite per­sons, there are al­ways fa­mil­iar cov­ers that catch the light per­fectly just as I walk by. The sight of them trig­gers a kind of greed.

Like a lot of book­worms, I shel­ter a grow­ing pile of un­read books; books I picked up in pre­vi­ous months or years, be­cause I feared that if I walked away, I would soon feel com­pelled to read that ti­tle, yet find on my next visit to the book­store that some­one else had bought it. I know some­one who, if a book wasn’t a lux­ury his bud­get could al­low that week, would hide that book in an out-of-the-way shelf, so no one else would find it.

Some­times, just brows­ing is enough. I know avid read­ers, read­ers with floor-to-ceil­ing book­cases sag­ging with books, who go ev­ery few weeks to the book­stores.

Apart from the an­nual visit dur­ing the hol­i­days, I go to the book­stores maybe once a month, just to browse. (Re­ally, just to browse.) One of the best books I read last year, the poet He­len MacDon­ald’s “H is for Hawk,” beck­oned with the black and tan illustration on its cover, of a goshawk with a beady eye. I fin­ished it that week, then bored fel­low read­ers in my life by re­peat­edly rec­om­mend­ing it.

Much later, I re­al­ized that the book had made it to the NY Times “10 Best Books of 2015” list. It’s pos­si­ble that a resid­ual mem­ory from hav­ing read that list, in ad­di­tion to that beau­ti­ful cover, was what made me get the book.

For that dis­cov­ery, it was money well-spent. Un­for­tu­nately, years of book-col­lect­ing have now filled one wall of the home of­fice, as well as sev­eral stor­age con­tain­ers.

This year, to de-clut­ter, I will at­tempt to give away more books than usual and or­ga­nize what’s left in the man­ner taught by the or­ga­niz­ing con­sul­tant Marie Kondo (in a book, of course). She rec­om­mends plac­ing all of one’s books on the floor and hold­ing each one, keep­ing only those that “spark joy.” This should be in­ter­est­ing.

I am so at­tached to the books that I sus­pect the peo­ple I love will have to pry some books from my cold, dead hands. If you’ve gone through a sim­i­lar process, do let me know how you sur­vived.

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