The Stacks in My Study

All year I tear out stories from The New Yorker Magazine, some from Harper's, and occasionally something from The Atlantic. I do it with the intent of reading, of learning. One time, I even started a small notebook to keep a list of the stories and their authors and my own reactions to them.

But today, the day after Thanksgiving, I am feeling abstemious and a little miserly with my time. I want to don green eyeshades, narrow my eyes, and send stacks of paper to the recycle container. The forecast calls for rain today. The house is stuffed with food. I ate cold turkey and a red navel orange for breakfast, a not altogether felicitous accompaniment to a pot of French Roast coffee.

But when I begin to turn pages, I change my mind. Or to be more precise, I decide to feed my mind with these words.

I'll start with the top of this random, unread stack and make notes in future short posts as I go along.

I am not a reviewer. There will be no reviewerly phrases here. Don't count on full sentences, either. It's a list. A scan before recyling or — in certain rare cases — saving for further exploration of an author's work.

When this set of stacks (New Yorker, Harpers & The Atlantic) is depleted, I'll start on the lit mag stacks I've accumulated this year. 

Do I hope to finish these stacks before New Year's Eve?  Not really, but I do hope to settle into a focused habit of reading literary magazines and published essays and short stories before the dawn of 2011. My purpose is simple: enlightened self-interest; to improve my own writing.

Besides, I would much rather be doing this today than wandering lost and lonely through some shopping mall.

7 thoughts on “The Stacks in My Study

  1. I have stacks, too, Beth. And I went through some of them this morning, while I was “getting organized” to write. Code words for procrastination, but also necessary sometimes. I cleared out the true junk in some of my stacks; I’m so amazed at what I occasional find in the piles, things I thought had gone missing forever. I pulled out a selection of some of the more fun stuff – mostly magazines – to give to my partner’s mom, who is staying with us for the holiday. Yesterday, I gave her a pile of books from my giveaway stack. I viewed my gift as a no-big deal thing that decreased my stacks; she viewed the reading material as unexpected riches. Zing to the middle of my forehead. Time to pay attention to and not take for granted the bounty I’ve got.
    I’m quite struck by the word picture you’ve sketched in your second paragraph, especially in its contrast to yesterday’s blog posts. Your post-Thanksgiving morning is so clearly drawn in so few words. Beautifully done.
    I’m looking forward to your lists, your notes, whatever you’d like to say about the stories you’ve collected over the year. It will be fun to trail along with you.
    P.S. I never go shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Never. Why on earth would I do that to myself on one of my favorite days of the year? 🙂

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  2. Thank you, Beth — earlier this year (or maybe last) I listed some lit mags and a few books that I was ready to share, and sent some to some blog friends. Would like to do that again with the aforementioned stacks, probably around Valentine’s Day. There’s a thought.

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  3. I adore my stacks and only occasionally am I a bit panicked about the numbers of books/magazines, articles that have piled up. I figure I’ll get to everything eventually, even if a few marathon readings are thrown in. I’m looking forward to reading more of this blog, Elizabeth!

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  4. Piles of books…some untouched, some partially read. And now I have a neighbor with 2 big bookshelves full of ‘new’ books…it’s like having my own personal library! Have to be careful not to transfer too much of the library to my shelves…LOL
    I’m one of the lucky ones Beth sent books to this year…thoroughly enjoyed her selection, especially because each one was a new adventure for me.
    Love this blog, Beth…looking forward to more…^-^

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