By Jorge Antonio Vallejos
Every season I make a reading list.
I’ve shared three lists with you already:
Here are 7 reasons why I make reading lists. I hope you’ll be inspired to make a reading list of your own!
1. I love books!
Whether you are new to this website, or one of my loyal readers, you know that the base of what I do here, and in my life, is literature. Books! Books of all genres: poetry, fiction, non-fiction… I love Creator, my Mom(s), and books.
2. “The worst thing you can do to words is ignore them.”
A few years back I saw a play about French writer Jean Genet. The one line of Genet’s that stayed with me was, The worst thing you can do to words is ignore them. I don’t want my piles of books to just sit there. I want to read and re-read them, learn from them, spend time with their authors, give some away, and bring more books in to my library.
3. Giving Thanks and appreciating what I have
At the bottom of my winter reading list you’ll find a comment from a woman that left me thinking, and should have us all thinking:
I would love to read the books you intend to read but I cannot afford them. I live in Kenya, could you kindly help me acquire any of them. Thank you.– Faith
(I contacted Faith and I’m still waiting for her reply.)
Having so many books is a privilege and a responsibility!
Books are meant to be read, taken care of, and shared!
4. Continuing the circle
Writers who publish books are writing to be read. They have put so much time into their craft; hours and hours of sitting and writing, re-writing, not sleeping, worrying, sweating, suffering, labouring over their art, life, and work. By reading their words I am continuing the circle of writing to reading to writing. Hopefully, when I start publishing books people will be reading what I write!
5. Making sure (hoping) I get through the towers of books that I have
By making reading lists I can keep track of what I have read. And it feels good to go through my towers of books and pick stuff out, write down names, hold the books and look at them, and build excitement for when I plunge into their pages.
6. Maintaining variety
There are some people who advise that you read everything a writer you like has written. Immerse yourself in their work. I agree. I have read all of Sherman Alexie’s collections of poetry. And I’m working on his short story collections and novels.
But there is also a need for variety. My mentor Simon Ortiz has said to me, Read everything! By keeping a list I make sure that I read different writers and genres to continue to re-fresh and work my mind.
7. Planning fulfills purpose
As a writer I really believe in putting pen to pad. I’ve also seen my mom do it via a budget every two weeks for my entire life. And many of the people who I respect make To-Do lists. I’ve been doing them for years and they work for me.
There is a saying you might have heard: Failing to plan is planning to fail.
My writing is my activism, my purpose. To be a good writer you have to be a good reader. Hence, making reading lists.
A list is not only a reminder, it keeps me on track.
Writing a list, looking at it, doing what’s on it, and checking off the books I’ve read is part of my journey; it keeps me going and gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Tune into Black Coffee Poet Wednesday April 3, 2013 for my Spring Reading List!