Steve Chapman

This approach has other attractions. My greatest fear in life is being stuck somewhere with nothing to read. I once boarded an eight-hour nighttime flight only to find that my overhead reading lamp was broken and every other seat was taken. Oh, and the in-flight movie was "Inspector Gadget."

Now I take not only a book but my own reading light -- with spare batteries. If you don't mind re-reading, one book is all you need.

Even my hour-long daily commuter train ride is agony without a supply of printed words. Once in a while, an accident on the tracks ahead will delay us for an hour or two. Major inconvenience? No, exceptional reading opportunity.

Writer Joe Queenan recently published a memoir, "One for the Books," in which he claims to have read 6,128 of them in his 62 years, or more than 100 a year, with plans to finish another 2,137 before his life story reaches The End. I haven't kept up with him so far, and I have no ambition to try.

In fact, my goal is to read only a dozen or so books each year, and read them slowly and carefully. A book read that way doesn't sit on your shelf. It percolates in your soul.

I'm of the view that anything worth doing is worth prolonging and worth revisiting over and over. The best books are like the best romances: They last as long as you live.

Mind if I stop now? I have some reading to do.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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