A fever changes in kind but not intensity

For the last month or so, in fact, for much of the year, I’ve been in kind of a reading frenzy. I must be averaging around three a week. But over the last week or so it kind of burned itself out — and got replaced with a new one.

A number of the last several books I read were somewhat of a struggle to complete. It wasn’t the book. It was more I was losing focus, regardless of whether it was fiction or nonfiction. It is now to the point where I’ve picked up about a dozen books over the last four days or so and am lucky if I get 10 pages or more in before putting it down. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I went more than a day without having a book I was currently reading.

Saturday morning I decided to try to turn the torpor to “good” use. I’ve been thinking of culling the bookshelves for a while. I figured my current apathy toward all genres might make me a bit more objective. I think that turned into a fever of its own. By the time the weekend was over, 74 books were off the shelves and in boxes. My kids are coming home this week so they’ll get first shot at hand-me-downs but then the books are either off to the used book store or being donated.

During the process I found books that still had store receipts in them. I was somewhat embarrassed to discover that a handful of receipts were 10 or more years old — and it didn’t look like I had opened them since putting them on the shelf. Maybe they will find a good home where they will get the attention they deserve.

There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs.

Henry Ward Beecher, “Summer Reading”

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