To-Do List

The full title of this work is To-Do List: From buying milk to finding a soul mate, what our lists reveal about us. Its author, Sasha Cagen, collected hundreds of to-do lists, categorized them, and then selected ones to publish. Each chapter has a different theme–from daily lists to New Year’s Resolutions to relationships requirements–and each list has accompanying commentary. This book gives a glimpse into the lives of dozens of people, simply by showing a scrap of paper they jotted notes on.

I love lists. The instant I saw this title I dropped the book I had been reading (Treasure Island, which I will finish and blog about soon . . .) and started in on this one. I don’t want to spring my crazy scheduling and organizing methods on you, because they are, well, crazy. However, if you are the kind of person who tends to make lists often–for help remembering tasks or (possibly?) for fun–this will definitely be an interesting read. It shows examples for other ways to format lists, as well as throwing out new ideas for what to list on every other page such as “New Year’s Resolutions I’ve Actually Kept” and “Five Best Bad Movies Ever.” A non-list maker might enjoy this as well; it could give them an idea of what the rest of us are doing! It is also quite brief, so if you are looking for a short, interesting, non-fiction read this would be a good place to start.

Although I loved this book, I did see a few areas for improvement. First, some of the included lists gave too much information. Of course I am curious as to what people write down, but not that curious. Some lists include extremely personal ramblings that really belonged in a journal and that I did not feel comfortable reading. I just skipped those (luckily there weren’t too many). I was also disappointed because the title does not quite correspond to the actual topic of the book. I wanted to know “what our lists reveal about us” and what I got was a lot of other people’s lists. True, I did enjoy it, but I expected to learn and wanted to learn about why I make lists and what they specifically mean about me. Although Cagen touches upon that briefly every once in a while, I don’t think that was enough to include it the title of the book. I felt a bit put out when it ended without any real conclusion about how listing might affect me.

All in all, this book is great read, especially for nosy list-makers. But don’t let yourself be deceived by its title–if you want a book that will address your personal list-making habits, you will have to find something else.

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