What I'm reading... and 8 more books waiting in line

stack of books

When I worked for the newspaper — before my layoff in 2008 that led me to be a full-time freelance writer and blogger — one of my very favorite things about the job was the semi-annual book sale.

Like every other media outlet in the country, my employer, the publisher of the daily news, received literally hundreds of books each year for review. Twice a year, all those review books (and CDs, too), were lined up according to genre on table upon table in the lower recesses of the building, put up for sale to the eager readers employed by the paper. Prices were 10 percent of the listed price, and all of the proceeds went to a local charitable organization.

Newspaper reporters, editors, designers, marketers, and more are word nerds and voracious readers, no doubt. Anticipation ran high as the book sale neared, and the lines formed hours before the doors opened and associates were allowed to peruse the piles, with a limit of ten per person the first time through.

As I said, I loved the book sale, and I always bought the max limit, often returning for seconds... even thirds, if any remained. I stocked my home bookshelves with more than a dozen brand-new books each time, usually for less than the price of a couple of hardcovers. I was in book-lover heaven. My heart swelled right along with my bookshelves.

Alas, as the adage says, "So many books, so little time." Though I've not been employed by the newspaper for more than four years now, haven't attended a newspaper book sale in even longer, I still have swollen book shelves with far more books than I've had time to read. Many of the book-sale books have not been cracked open since the day I pulled them from my book bag to show my spoils to Jim upon my return home after the sale.

Those books are not the only ones on my shelf. I've had a serious book addiction, and I have the bookshelves to prove it. Even now, as my funds have dwindled (the plight of a freelancer), I still get books on a regular basis — because bloggers are one of those media outlets that get hundreds of books a year for review. I don't get hundreds, but I do get a lot.

That said, I did recently purchase a book, something I've not done often since losing my full-time job. The book was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, recommended to me by my Generation Fabulous friends. I devoured it, loved it, wished it wouldn't end. Then I passed it along to Brianna.

Next up were several books that I simply could not get into. I won't mention names, so as not to offend writers and the readers who love them. For each one, I'd try, I really would. But after several chapters, I'd find myself guiltily placing it atop the growing stack on and inside my night stand, telling myself I'll try it again another time. With so many books and so little time, I'm not one of those readers who commits to reading a book even if I'm not thrilled with it. Too many others await.

The Burgess BoysThe book I'm reading now — the one that I did manage to get through several chapters and am now nearly finished with — is one I received because I'm a world-renowned blogger. Okay, forget the world-renowned part, but I did get the advance reader's edition addressed to Grandma's Briefs.

The book — The Burgess Boys by Pulitzer Prize-winning Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge and Amy and Isabelle (which I loved!) — publishes March 26. It's one of those quiet, deep, family dramas featuring struggling protagonists with broken hearts and plenty of flaws. You can find out more by clicking the book graphic to the right.

My goal, when finished with Ms. Strout's latest literary tale, is to get through a few of the book-sale books that still remain unread on my shelf after all these years, despite having looked quite good when I nabbed them from the sale tables.

Here are the ones I have lined up, ready and waiting:

• The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald

• Visits from the Drowned Girl by Steven Sherrill

• No Ordinary Matter by Jenny McPhee

• A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore

• The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn by Janis Hallowell

• Dancing with Einstein by Kate Wenner

• A Mouthful of Air by Amy Koppelman

• Indecision by Benjamin Kunkel

Have you read any of those? I hope to soon, especially as those are just eight of the many books upon my shelf that are stamped inside the cover with Review Copy, designating them a book-sale find.

I'll just say I've chosen to savor my book-sale finds slowly and intentionally, to make them last rather than devouring them one after another. Telling you such a lie makes me feel far better about myself than if I were to truthfully tell you I'm simply no longer the reader I used to be. Or for me to admit that, when it came to those semi-annual book sales, I was powerless against my bibliophilic addiction, that my eyes truly were far bigger than my reading appetite, then and now.

Still... So many books, so little time.

Today's question(s):

What are you reading? And do you feel obligated to finish all books you start?