The pile of books I have been meaning to read has begun to shrink. It is a virtual pile, not an actual one. I gave up on the physical pile and shelved all the books stacked there. Well, truth be told, there were several stacks. There were the books I bought in batches, there were the books I was given by friends on holidays and birthdays. Free books that arrived in the mail from publishers as part of their marketing. Occasional boxes of books from my publishers, or gifts gathered during visits to my editor. Not all the books are what I would have selected for myself but they are mine and it is a sin not to read a book I think or at least try to read it, and so here I am, now that I have time. Sampling and choosing. It is a very welcome era, reading steadily again, but as I write about each of the books it looks to be drawn from an odd old-fashioned eclecticism. That’s part of what makes it fun. I am reading in a way that feels partly chosen and partly random, discovering authors, pleased by most of them. Since I am a nitpicker when it comes to books, the result is always mixed. Something to quibble with. But it is lovely to discover that reading is the same thing for me now as it was when I first started. Not quite as magical, surely. Rarely do I get lost in a book so utterly. Remembering my early days of reading Robert Heinlein, especially. But I fall into the rhythm of reading anyway. I have more patience with difficult books, quirky books, than in the past. Retirement brings that ease of days so I am no longer, at least not so often, chased by the worry that I need to be doing something else. The stack of books to be read is not infinite. I will reach the end. Then I will be free to choose new books, make a new pile. Oh, let it be so.