I credit Jeannie Keddington, middle-school librarian extraordinaire, for introducing me to the concept of the "reserve pile" — that special stack of unread books you keep tucked away for a rainy day.

Or maybe a day when your 160-pound Newfoundland dog eats half a leather (Distressed! Also expensive!) couch while you and your husband are at the movies with your neighbor, Rick. Or a day when you discover that someone has stolen your identity and run up a ton of charges on phones you never knew you had.

Or a day when your car breaks down on 700 East and you have to call Caesar the Tow Truck guy to come rescue you. Again. (Thanks, Caesar!)

You know the kind of day I'm talking about. The kind of day when you really, really, REALLY absolutely must escape into the pages of a fabulous book.

I recently took an inventory of the titles in my official reserve pile, and I'm happy to report that when my life falls apart, I'll AT LEAST have a few good books to read.

Whew! What a relief!

Here's my current list of "Books I Haven't Read Yet." Please (I'm serious) feel free to send me your recommendations.

1. "Sorcery and Cecelia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot," by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. This is the young-adult novel Jeannie handed me when she introduced me to the idea of a reserve pile. It's the story of two young English women (think Jane Austen characters) who, among other things, have to deal with wily wizards and a mysterious marquis.

OK. I'm a little tired of fantasy right now— there's just SOOOOO much of it these days — but when I'm ready to indulge again, this will be the novel I grab first. Put the word "chocolate" in the title, and hey, I'm interested!

2. "The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food," by Judith Jones. "Food" is another good word to have in a title, don't you think? This is a memoir written by the woman who has edited some of America's best-known cookbooks (speaking of which, I love to read cookbooks, too —especially ward cookbooks from the 1970s).

3. "Green Grows the City," by Beverly Nichols. So this book doesn't involve eating. But it does involve my other passion, gardening, and how you go about doing it if you live on the outskirts of London. And here's the best part — it's WRITTEN BY A MAN NAMED BEVERLY ... I love it when British guys have names like Beverly. Also Shirley, Evelyn and Gayle. Sally (not a dude) Larkin, a friend and employee at The King's English bookstore, recommended this one to me.

4. "The Way to Bright Star," by Dee Brown. OK. I have some major, MAJOR guilt associated with this novel about horse thieves, circus performers and Yankee soldiers because a friend loaned it to me a million years ago, and I haven't read it yet. He probably thinks I lost it, because it's common knowledge that I lose everything. It's still sitting on my shelf, though, all safe and sound.

Waiting for the rainiest day of all.


E-mail: acannon@desnews.com