We’re just getting back from a couple hard (but fun!) weeks of travel, and rolling up our sleeves for the big summer project: packing up and moving about 1/4 of the way across the world, to yet another brand new country, for my new job.

(Yes, you heard that right. New job. Shiny!)

It’s amazing how much stuff accumulates when you stay in basically the same place for 4+ years. I say basically because we have moved twice in the past six months, and if I’m counting right at least 5 times since we’ve been in Scotland… but flat to flat in the same general area is a very different kind of moving.

So I’m going carefully through the bookshelves, making piles of things I definitely need for my new project, things I definitely don’t plan to want to look at for at least the next year, and right now a pile of things I’m not ready to make a call on, whether because they’d be kinda-nice-but-not-necessary (so I’ll throw them in if there’s room) or because I might read them before I go.

I’m currently almost done with a slim volume of essays by Anne Fadiman that Mark gave me for Christmas a few years ago–back when sipping tea and reading essays was a diversion I indulged with more regularly than I did during the home stretch of PhD completion. I’m a pretty profligate reader, the kind that just needs text to scan and will make do with catalogues or cereal boxes or the paper the person across from me on the subway is holding should nothing more suitable present itself. But essays, the right kind of essays, short and personal and wry and generally about very small ideas, treated beautifully, are my favourite recreational reading. It’s often hard to find the right kind of essays, though, so when I do get a new volume, I tend to savour it. Fadiman’s reflections on the pleasures of reading and books are just right for me–and just the right companion for the task of packing up my bookshelves.

What’s your idea of indulgent reading?