Saturday, September 10, 2011

The "Currently Reading" Shelf

I am notorious for having multiple projects going on simultaneously. It should come as no surprise, then, that I rarely finish one book before starting another. Lately, I've been reading The Happiness Project, and from it came the inspiration for a most marvelous concept: a bookshelf devoted solely to what I'm reading now.

In The Happiness Project, the value of having one empty shelf in your house is touted as one of the ways to find organizational balance and thus, contribute to your own satisfaction. I have to admit, though, that I see little reward in maintaining an empty shelf. So I decided to make a point of maintaining one almost empty shelf: a shelf where I can stack books that I am currently reading with the knowledge that if the shelf gets too cluttered, I need to make more of an effort to either finish what I've started or enact a judgement call that if a particular book is not holding my interest now, it probably never will.

Here is my almost empty shelf of the moment:

The Happiness Project: Despite its somewhat loaded title, this book isn't actually about spiritual discovery or dealing with skeletons in old closets. So far - and I'm only on April, the fourth month of the author's year-long project - I've found numerous practical tips on increasing overall feelings of wellbeing. Everything from don't put off things that take less than a minute to act the way you want to feel have sort of rocked my world as mantras that should have been completely obvious. Sometimes, though, it takes exposure to someone else's life journey to realize the little steps we can take to improve our own.

Bloggers Boot Camp: This is one that my husband picked up, since he is interested in starting a tech blog. So far, I've only read the introduction, and I do feel like it's a great read for someone with my husband's goals. I don't know how much an aspiring creative, personal blogger such as myself will get out of it, but I'm excited to delve a little bit deeper before removing it from its precious place on this shelf.

Writing Personal Essays: Now that Roller Skating with Rickets is almost behind me, I'm looking to hone my shorter essay writing skills. I tend to be such an academic writer; I think it's why I've previously gotten the freelance writing opportunities that I have. But I'd like to improve in the area of creative essays, particularly as I strive to enjoy each day and cherish the now (another tip brought to me via The Happiness Project). I want to be able to convey how it felt to hike with my sixth graders to a spot overlooking the Pacific Ocean, not merely communicate the sequence of events.

The Complete Illustrated History: Aztec & Maya: There will always be a history book on this shelf. I'm paid to teach the subject, after all - and I count my blessings every day for the ability to do for a living what I also love to do. My eighth graders recently ignited my interest in the Aztec and Maya, from their stunning temples to the somewhat jarring practice of human sacrifice. This was a bargain book at Barnes & Noble that I just couldn't resist.

As these books are all in various stages of completion, I can't offer any book-buying advice as of yet. But what I can say is that it feels good to have a designated place where I can visually take in my literary pursuits. It sure beats having them strewn all over the apartment, sitting inconveniently wherever I happened to be when I picked them up (and put them down) last.