I like keeping a list of books I read so I can go over them at the end of the year. Some years I get to pat myself on the back for how many titles I see on that list. The past year was not one of them.
In 2011 we decided it was time to downsize, so we took on the task of putting our house on the market. With all the attention I had to pay to painting, clearing out cobwebs and de-cluttering before we could even get to the "staging" process, I had neither the time nor the concentration to read much of anything, including my book club selections. Half the time I just read the reviews online.
However, I did lots of browsing. Over the years we've accumulated hundreds of books that we never got rid of simply because we didn't need to. But downsizing applies to all our possessions, so I took inventory of everything on our shelves. Religious and inspirational books I took to Priscilla's Christian Book Store in Lilburn where Thampy and Molly Mathew sell them to support missionaries in India. Books on gardening and crafts along with cookbooks and yellowing texts from my ESOL teaching days, I passed on to friends I thought might use them.
The next step was browsing the online list of Project Gutenberg. If I could download a book for free, then it went on my give-away pile.
Of course I don't mean to give the impression I see books as a thing of the past. In fact, every Christmas I give everyone in my family a book. So all year I browsed through bookstores and in the process discovered a few new treasure troves. The Book Nook in Lilburn buys and sells used books, so when I went in to cash in on some cast-offs, I walked out with more books than I'd carried in. Of course, I'd be giving them all away, so my increased inventory didn't matter. Then, at Antiques in Old Town in Lilburn I discovered a little niche in the back of the store just spilling over with used books -- all at 50 percent off. I spent half a day sitting on the floor -- browsing. And I bought a bagful. To be given away, of course.
Some of my browsing was writing-related. For my column about donating books to the Gwinnett Public Library, I spent several hours browsing through the shelves with Deborah George, who graciously gave me a "grand tour" of appropriate choices and then showed me how to browse online for new arrivals.
And yes, for the record, I followed my own suggestion and dedicated "MetaMaus," by Art Spiegelman in memory of my dear friend Patti-Jo who passed away in August. So far, it's just another book I've browsed through. In 2012, I'm going to sit down and read it.
Susan Larson is a writer who lives in Lilburn. Email her at email@example.com.