I love reading. Love love love it. I've been a big fan of reading since ... well, since I can remember, actually. First, of course, I was a fan of listening to the stories my parents read to me. And as soon as I could, I started reading every book I could get my hands on—mostly fiction, but occasionally nonfiction and poetry too.

I didn't read romances or science fiction at all, but devoured mysteries and action adventure stories and historical fiction and, of course, a lot of the "classics"—Hemingway has long been one of my favorites, Twain, Nabokov, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Orwell, Bronte ... you get the picture. I also discovered some great modern fiction writers over the years and, of course, regularly indulged in the likes of John Grisham and Clive Cussler. (I love Dirk Pitt. Always will.) See? I was open to a variety.

Leisurely reading quickly falls by the wayside when you have other reading obligations, however. When I was in college I got my fill of reading for fun on breaks but read very little of my own choosing when I was in school. (Although, fortunately, one of my majors was English so I often had the opportunity to read something other than textbook material for class.)

After college, my leisurely reading was still sporadic. I'd spend all day staring at a computer screen writing words or editing words, then often came home at night to edit more words as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. Sometimes, you just have to have a break from words. So I'd catch up on a couple of magazines here and there, read an occasional book, but nothing too intense. Mostly I'd do my reading when I was traveling and didn't have to think about anything else.

Then, of course, I started school again. And started teaching. Then all leisurely reading ceased, except for whatever magazine I'd read while on the elliptical or riding the bike at the gym. My days were filled with reading student papers and environmental ethics missives and essays I was considering having my students read in class ... no time for anything else.

So, needless to say, by the time I finished teaching and taking classes last semester, I'd accrued quite a list of must-read books I wanted to work my way through. I made a pretty good dent in them, and managed to whittle down the giant pile of magazines in my office a bit too. It was quite a variety:

I started with So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger. Then read The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (not exactly a lighthearted beach read, but I was hooked contemplating how the planet would react should humans one day vanish ... interesting stuff).

In between those, I hit a Jodie Picoult kick, because they're quick reads that deal with some pretty interesting topics: Change of Heart, Keeping Faith, then Perfect Match.

Now I'm halfway through with The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and am crossing my fingers I can finish it before it gets abandoned for my grad school reading.

The problem is, in the course of catching up on my leisurely reading, my to-read list somehow has grown even more. So I've resolved to do leisurely reading every day—even if it's only for five or 10 minutes a day. We'll see how that goes. Check back with me in a month and I'll probably say, oops, didn't do it. My head will be reeling with environmental economics and student descriptive essays by then. But we'll see.

In the meantime, what books should I add to the list?

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