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Likely Stories: I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Annie Bogel

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

Anne Bogle wrote an interesting set of insights into the life of an avid reader: I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life. 


Anne wrote, “When a reader tells me they are looking for a great book to read, it doesn’t seem like a complicated question, or like they’re asking for too much.  I can imagine where they’re coming from because I’ve been there myself.  Maybe they’ve read through a string of mediocre titles, or maybe it’s been a while since they’ve read anything at all.  Maybe they’re in a slump, reading-wise, and it’s killed the confidence they once had in choosing good titles for themselves.  They’re not in the mood to take a chance; they’re looking for a sure thing—a book they’re guaranteed to love” (11-12).  Any reader should recognize this dilemma.

Anne continues, “You’re looking for a book that reminds you why you read in the first place.  One written well and that will feel like it was written just for you—one that will make you think about things in a new way, or feel things you didn’t expect a book to make you feel, or see things in a new light” (12).  Okay, enough for the basics.  Let’s have some fun.

Anne writes, “How to Organize Your Bookshelves.”  #1.  For beautifully styled bookshelves, follow this decorators rule of thumb: each book shelf should hold one-third books, one-third accessories, and one-third empty space” (56).  I laughed outload when I read this.  We have not a single area of space in our home.  #2. You’re a book lover; you don’t have enough shelves to begin with.  Ignore the decorators.  #5. Develop strong feelings about dust jackets.  Leave dust jackets in place and shelve your books, because dust jackets are an important part of the design process. Silently curse dust jackets […] Remove all dustjackets and place them in the recycling bin.  Wait for regrets to set in.  #8.  Cull duplicates.  If you have two copies of a book, keep the prettier one.  #9.  If you can’t bring yourself to get rid of your duplicates, buy a third copy.  When it comes to books, two is the loneliest number.  #13.  If you have more books than shelves, consider that any shelf holding books is a bookshelf.  #15 If you still have more books than shelves, build more shelves” (56-59).  Anna Quindlen writes, “We are readers.  This is how we decorate” (59).

Finally, I close with a dilemma I live with every day.  Bogle writes, “Your To Be Read list holds 8,972 titles, and you want to read every one.  Your TBR list is unquestionably too long to finish before you die.  You have countless unread books at home, yet you feel like you have nothing to read.  You have countless unread books at home, but you can’t resist buying one more” (68-69).  5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production or KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and Happy Reading!


Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.