Friday, July 20, 2012

A Comfy Goodreads Account Leads to Questions about Personal Space in My Life

Since 10th grade at Valencia High in 2005, Meridith has filled a quarter of a notebook with titles of books she wants to read. Most of them she crossed out because she wasn't interested in them anymore, but she's always added to it and checked off those she already read.

In our progress toward moving, which now includes cleaning out this place to make it look palace-like so one of our two realtors can come back next week to take photos to post online, Meridith was looking through her notebook, seeing which titles she read lately, which ones she's still interested in, and which ones she wanted to cross out. Watching her do this for a moment, I had an idea: How about a Goodreads account? I've had one since 2007 and it's served me well all this time, given that my to-read list on the site now holds over 4,000 titles, which would be impossible to write down in a notebook, though that's not the reason I signed up for an account five years ago. I wanted to keep steady track of my books and I know that I read a lot in a given week, so here was a site in which I could look up all the books I have, put them in my account, make different shelves of different names, and figure out what I want to read next based on what's in my to-read list and what Goodreads recommends through its mostly-stagnant recommendation program, which perhaps doesn't work for me now because I've read and rated 640 books, and perhaps Goodreads thinks I've got a handle on this now and don't need the recommendation program anymore. Perhaps I don't, but it's still fun to look through.

Meridith agreed to the idea and I helped her sign up for an account and gave her a tour of what the site offers and how she can organize her books. She rated a great number of Meg Cabot's books, made sure she became a fan of her and Hilary Duff on the site (their pages include blog entries linked from their official websites, so Meridith will also see that in her feed when she logs in), and put the books she wants to read into her to-read list. After she was done, her account showed that she had rated 107 books, she's currently reading The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones (one of my favorite novels which is part of my permanent collection), and has 175 books in her to-read list, along with 26 in her "my favorite books so far" list and 26 in her "owned list." Only one book, Sundays at Tiffanys by James Patterson, is not part of her "owned" list but is in her "my favorite books so far" list.

After we finished setting up her account at 1:30 this morning, I told Meridith how much I envy her. I've had my account for five years, have added a monsterload of books, and last year, I turned my regular account into a Goodreads Author Profile, owing to my first book, What If They Lived?. I can't turn back to the sheer simplicity of Meridith's new account. I want whatever publicity I can get for my first book and for myself and my writing as I work on my next books and hopefully have them published in the years to come. My account is an endless rock concert of books, whereas Meridith's is a small shelf in the corner of a comfy room, with a recliner in front of it, and a tableside lamp or a bigger lamp next to it. Sometimes I wish I could have her account, but I need it the way it is. I've read a lot since I was two years old, and I'm happy to finally be the full-time voracious reader I've always wanted to be, but the utter peace of Meridith's Goodreads account gives me pause, makes me think about what I want in my life.

I think back to that visit to Legoland in Carlsbad, after which we drove to Hash House a Go Go on 5th Avenue in San Diego, and parked in a nearly empty lot a few blocks away, putting a few dollars into the slot that corresponded to our space in the bank of slots next to the sidewalk. Walking to Hash House a Go Go, the blinds of a window in a bungalow were open and I saw this tight little room with bookshelves full up, a tall lamp in one corner of the room, and a puffed-up large red leather easy chair in front of it. I wanted to live in that room right then and there. I wanted a room like that and I wanted it to feel as comfortable as that one looked.

Now I have that chance. Mom told me and Meridith that we need a bullhorn and GPS to find our way in our new home. It's half bigger than this place, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Since where we're living is all rentals, the cost is obviously much lower, and the plan to have Meridith and I share a room if it had been an apartment has been chucked aside. We'll have our own rooms, and this is where deep consideration comes in for me. I want bookshelves, real bookshelves, not the boxes I've had to use as bookshelves for the past eight years. So I'll see what's available in Las Vegas. I'll also finally be able to hang up my pictures, including prints of two Chris Consani paintings: Classic Interlude and Java Dreams.

I still have to research what kind of bed I want in my room, since we're not moving with the mattress I have on the floor, and I don't want to end up sleeping on the floor for a few days, as it will have to be on the first night. I want to make sure, though, that the overall feeling of my room is just like Meridith's Goodreads account, just as peaceful, and which can also double as gentle writing space. Depending on how big my room is, I may get a recliner later on, but not right away since I need to earn some money first. Bills will not be a problem since they're going to be split between the four of us, as has been arranged even years before this move.

Looking at photos of our new home that were sent to us by the manager of this property, there's a small backyard area that I can't wait to use. I can put a lawn chair out there and read for hours on the weekend if I want. I will devour everything that Las Vegas offers, but I want to live my life with as much peace as possible each day. I think any stress that might horn in will just roll off me because I'm battle-hardened from my nine years here, from writing for the former Canyon Call newspaper at College of the Canyons, from writing for The Signal, from all the times before that we've moved. Las Vegas will be my home, and I will treat it accordingly. A small, reserved life ironically lived large. I like the thought of that.