Books Poetry Poetry Friday

[Poetry Friday] “The List” by Naomi Shihab Nye

A man told me he had calculated the exact number of books he would be able to read before he died



Happy Fri-yay! My Poetry Friday offering today is taken from Naomi Shihab Nye’s collection, A Maze Me. This poem is dedicated to book lovers and book hoarders alike, and also to our forever growing list of books to read. May we never tire of books no matter how little time we have to read them.

Below anything else, allow me to share an excerpt from Naomi Shihab Nye’s introduction, which is poetry in and of itself:

If you have a voice, and aren’t afraid to spend it…

If you have many voices and let them speak to one another in a friendly fashion…

If you’re not too proud to talk to yourself out loud…

If you will ask the questions pressing against your forehead from the inside…

you’ll be okay.

Poetry Friday round-up is hosted this week by Rebecca at Sloth Reads.
(And check out a few of my shelves!)

The List

A man told me he had calculated
the exact number of books
he would be able to read before he died
by figuring the average number
of books he read per month
and his probable earth span,
(averaging how long
his dad and grandpa had lived,
adding on a few years since he
exercised more than they did).
Then he made a list of necessary books,
nonfiction mostly, history, philosophy,
fiction, and poetry from different time periods
so there wouldn't be large gaps in his mind.
He had given up frivolous reading entirely.
There are only so many days.

Oh I felt sad to hear such an organized plan.
What about the books that aren't written yet,
the books his friends might recommend
that aren't on the list,
the yummy magazine that might fall
into his view at a silly moment after all?
What about the mystery search
through delectable library shelves?
I felt the heartbeat of forgotten precious books
calling for his hand.



Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Fats is the Assistant Manager for Circulation Services at the Wayne County Public Library in Wooster, Ohio. She considers herself a reader of all sorts, although she needs to work on her non-fiction reading. Fats likes a good mystery but is not too fond of thrillers. She takes book hoarding seriously and enjoys collecting bookmarks and tote bags. When she is not reading, Fats likes to shop pet apparel for her cat Penny (who absolutely loathes it).

5 comments on “[Poetry Friday] “The List” by Naomi Shihab Nye

  1. I am not that organized about my reading. I simply consume large numbers of books, posts, magazines and poems. I’m not sure we can take it with us. But I enjoy it all.


  2. lindabaie

    Yes! What about. . .? Naomi Shihab Nye is wise indeed. Love seeing the pics of your shelves. There is an article about the good that ‘unread’ books are to people. Have you read it? Much fun for us readers!


  3. srebeccan

    This poem was great! Thank you for sharing. And I love a peek into your bookshelves!


  4. Kay Mcgriff

    I find that some of my favorite books are those that fall in to my life serendipitously. Nye’s poem is great–and the photos of your bookshelves are perfect to go along with it.


  5. I love the quote of Nye’s you shared, and her poem is wonderful. I often have thought that there will never be enough time to read all the books I’d like to, but I just keep reading, thanks for reviewing her book Fats, and your book pics too!


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