I’ve described my Gap List, and you’ve probably said to yourself, “That’s all?” Never judge a list by its brevity. I’ve been reading books by dead people for a long, long time, which makes me moderately well read. The Gap List is to fill gaps so that on my deathbed I will be able to consider with satisfaction that I am truly well read.
There is, of course, the addendum to the Gap List: the Tottering Stack.
I rarely come home from a book safari with more than one or two titles from the Gap List. What I usually find are books by authors I like or have some reason to believe I might like. Often, I find books that aren’t on the Gap List but might as well be. Books by people who are still alive (which probably shouldn’t be held against them). Books that have a knowing following and have a certain nerd cred. Books that had their fifteen minutes of fame and now moulder among academic curiosities of supplemental literary value.
I have a limited amount of shelf space for unread books. It’s full. New acquisitions are therefore piled into tottering stacks on the floor. Once consumed they are stacked on a sentimentally favored desk for later removal by human forklift to the library. That is, my garage. Disappointments go the the local public library Friends. The rest are keepers. This behavior is referred to as “hoarding.” I understand that hoarding books is looked upon differently from hoarding, say, junk mail or Tupperware, but my sense is that it is rapidly losing its exceptionalism and will soon be formally described in the DSM as a persistent personality disorder.