Jan Stafford Kellis

Book Shuffling

I’ve been raised to believe, and in turn have preached: never leave the house without a book. Having a book handy prevents wasted time should one find oneself in a waiting room facing stacks of germ-riddled magazines (germs comprise another topic, which I won’t explore here today) or even on a ferry boat, crossing the water with the transmission safely in ‘park’. I’ve read books on curbs, park benches, stores (while waiting for someone in the fitting room), and even tried reading on a few of the tamer rides at DisneyLand, but my stomach couldn’t handle it.

So, how to pick the next book? The books I have yet to read reside on their own shelf, in the order in which I currently plan to read them. These are the books I’ve purchased or borrowed from a fellow Bookworm at a previous meeting. Book shuffling, or strategic book selection, is a painstaking process affecting the enjoyment level of each book. If a thick, richly-written book was just finished, I’ll seek out a thin, light read for the next selection. If it’s horizontal hold season and I have a week off work, I’ll find the thickest, most complicated book on the shelf and tackle it next. Many life circumstances impact my choice for the next book: travel (light read, both in weight and content), camping (more involved book), Dr. appointments (something easily read in intermittent snippets of time) and mall shopping with my daughter (something totally engrossing so I can successfully escape from this most intrusive environment).

Since they’re already in the order in which I plan to read them, as I finish one book I quickly peruse the next three or four to ensure they are still in the optimum order. Sometimes I’ll grab one out of order because I finished the previous one sooner or I know I have a long wait coming up while my daughter is in her orthodontist’s chair. The last three or four days before the next Bookworms Anonymous meeting, I’ll be sure to choose a book I can finish in time to present to the others.

What am I reading right now? The Gravedigger’s Daughter, by Joyce Carol Oates. It’s a richly written tale of a German immigrant family, beginning in WWII and ending…I’m not yet sure.