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A Note from the Book Review Editor (January 2017)

Photography by Michael Booini - 

Near the top of this year’s list of New Year’s resolutions is spending more quality time reading. It is a way to recharge, to slow the chaos that life sometimes becomes.

A review of the list of books read this past year (yes, I keep a list) reveals there are many more books I intended to read than books I actually read. Granted, the list is eclectic. It includes the entire collection of mystery novels by British novelist Elly Griffiths and books about reading such as Browsings, A Year of Reading by Michael Dirda and Avid Reader by Robert Gottlieb. And there was Upstream, essays by poet Mary Oliver, as well as King Edward VIII, The Uncrowned King, by Piers Brendon, among others. Each title on the list brings back a spark of memory, a relation to the plot, and a sense of accomplishment. But there are so many books I wanted to read.

The dilemma is finding more quality time; using time wisely is a challenge. Admittedly, a great deal of time last year was spent with electronic gadgets, whether it was a smartphone, laptop computer, tablet, or television. Such engagements might be considered mindless.

Mindless engagement, an oxymoron if there ever was one. Can one be truly engaged, if the activity is mindless?

Yes, studying the wide world of all things digitally accessible has its advantages. But, unlike reading a book, I don’t particularly recall the specifics of surfing the internet or reading my Twitter feed, or whatever other digital distractions caught my eye or aroused my curiosity. Yet, I can recall the essence of every book on last year’s list.

Surely time is better spent reading quietly and mindfully? The answer for me is obvious. Books will have my full attention this year. I resolve to take a break from technology and spend more time mindfully engaged in making sure the list of books read this year is longer than last year’s.

How about you? What is your reading plan for the New Year?


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