The Love of Lists
I love lists. Ah, the moment I check off a task with an exaggerated flourish, there is an immediate sense of accomplishment. Efficient, effective and documented, checklists give significance to the small, seemingly trivial actions that fill up our days. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is an excellent illustration for the merits of using this tried and true technique.
There is only one area of my life that I have difficulties with lists: books. Here’s my problem. My reading lists are long – very, very long. Every year, I add more books to an already over-burgeoning list from the previous year. I still haven’t made my list for this year and here it is February.
I am taking a different approach this year. I’m choosing books based on a theme that sparks my curiosity. This year my thoughts turn to artistic endeavours, which I confess covers a huge area. It all began when I read Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle. Art records the events of history, the progress of technology, the dialogue of philosophers, and the social and cultural norms of a particular time. Locked in the paintings and held within the words of a poet, are the stories of our civilization.
A happy thought is that there are so many books – we will never ever, ever, ever run out of lists.