My kids would always cringe when I got my hands on the summer reading lists. On one level I appreciate the curated list of suggestions, on the other, I felt strongly that learning to find books you would enjoy is a skill that supports reading independency and fluency, too. So I was opposed to the "you must read three" from this list and only this list directions. Read, yes. Tied to this (generally pretty short) list? No.
This week, after finally clearing out the backlog of work from the academic year, and two smaller scale writing projects, I started clearing up my office. I have stacks of books on the floor, each for one project or another. The desert fathers and mothers. Baking books (for a chemistry writing project). The art of seeing. Women deacons. Hermits and anchoresses. Never mind being walled up inside a church, I'm about to be walled up inside my study.
"For Elizabeth, with undying affection and admiration.
Frederick & Claske Franck. 1965"
I've been cataloging my books as I return them to the shelves, using a (free!) program that lets me type in the ISBN number and then creates a full bibliographic record for the book. I can tag entries up, and create lists that show which books are where. And my quantitative self knows how many books were on the floor!
One stack remains tucked in the corner, saved for last. Summer reading. I've been tucking books away there since the fall, waiting for a time to enjoy what my kids called SSR (sustained silent reading). Long stretches to read books and articles that aren't attached to any project, to travel to other times and places, to listen deeply to other viewpoints.
First on the stack is Outsider in the Vatican, Frederick Franck's illustrated account of Vatican II. I bought the book second hand for a dollar, so imagine my surprise when I opened to find I had an inscribed copy. Who, I wonder, is Elizabeth?