Compulsion undermined

So I have been adhering fairly rigidly over the last few weeks to a reading regimen that some might described as, well, regimental. Perhaps even obsessive. Or compulsive. It is a simplified version of a plan that I shared with my blog audience earlier, and, although it leaves me with the painful (and constant) impression that I have fallen dreadfully behind, it also (I can't help but note, with a truly misguided sense of self-satisfaction) means that I read more and a greater variety of books. It looks something like this:

  1. A Play (in keeping with my Play-a-week project, although I almost never get through all seven of these steps in a single week)
  2. A Book Club Book (for my proliferating addiction to Yahoo Book Groups)
  3. The New Yorker (If I don't include my two subscription here and at step 6, I never actually read them)
  4. Challenge Book (Chunkster, Year of Down Under, whatever challenges the future might bring)
  5. Graphic Novel (a recently added step, after I brought home a pile of graphic novels half as tall as I am from the library)
  6. The New York Review of Books
  7. Any old thing I feel like reading. Or need to read because I have fallen behind in a challenge or book club.
But my acquisition of Nick Hornby's The Complete Polysyllabic Spree from the library a few days ago has thrown this well-ordered worldview into disarray. I can't seem to stop reading this collection of columns from The Believer in which Hornby details his adventures in buying and reading books. Perhaps it is his endearing honesty about how he shapes his buying lists so as not to looking like a rampaging, bookstore-haunting, acquisitive maniac (I long ago despaired of hiding this aspect of my personality), or begins reading worthy books to impress his readers (and short books to pad out his monthly "read" total). So convincing is he is his endorsement of many of the things he reads (and indeed, he cultivates a hilarious feud with the committee of cultishly earnest young intellectuals who edit The Believer - the fictional Polysyllabic Spree - who insist that he never speak ill of his fellow writers) that I have bought or ordered from the library a small flock of them.*

So, one compulsion undermined by another. The acquisitive triumphs over the efficient, yet again.

*Here they are:
  • How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer (bought)
  • True Notebooks by Mark Salzman (library)
  • Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (library)
  • What Narcissism Means to Me by Tony Hoagland (library - a rare venture into poetry for me, but this is not the first time I have seen it recommended)