So many books, so little time! How do I choose what to read next?
The illustration for this post is some of my giant To Be Read pile, extracted from its boxes and strewn all over my bed for its photo opportunity. (And let me tell you, that was a terrifying experience. I suspect the TBR weighs more than I do.)
Mostly, I keep books in boxes to cut down on dust, but it also helps me to prioritize. Books out of sight are out of mind. If I get a long-awaited book by a particularly beloved author who does not publish a lot, I will often stow that book away for a while, saving it for a special occasion. It helps if I can’t see the book lying there begging me to read it. Laura Kinsale’s newest, Lessons in French, is hidden away for that reason, as is the newest Caroline Stevermer, a middle-grade fantasy titled Magic Below Stairs, and Molly Gloss’ most recent novel, The Hearts of Horses, which I’ve been saving for quite a while. Can you tell I’m not a “dessert first” reader most of the time?
I’ve been known to save books for years after buying them in hardcover as soon as they were available, not reading them until long after they’ve come out in mass market paperback. Yeah, I know, it’s weird.
There are times when I will read a book immediately after I’ve received it. I do this if, for example, the book is a galley or ARC given to me by a friend for review (I often chat about books in my LiveJournal / Dreamwidth Journal). Or I’ll sometimes be enticed to read the book quickly because there’s a lot of online discussion of it, and I want to be able to follow along with the various reviews and discussions.
Mostly, though, I choose by impulse, from the one open box in my TBR. The books I feel I’m probably going to read in the near future are in that box. Sometimes I rotate books in and out of that box, or rearrange several of the TBR boxes, and perhaps even cull out a book or two I’ve decided I no longer want to read. I can’t describe the sense of luxury I get from looking at all I have stocked up to read. It’s a pleasure every time I look through and choose which book to read next.
What about you? How do you choose what to read next?
Usually, when I'm confronted with that, I have to run and take cover in an old favorite. That TBR pile can be intimidating! Recs can move things to the top of the TBR pile, though. And then, especially if it is a series that I like, I'll have to keep going. Sigh. I love books.
I feel a little guilty about re-reads these days, unless I have some sort of reason for it – blog post, discussion panel, something like that. But I have been known to return to old favorites. I once did a reread of pretty much all of Jo Beverley's romances that I owned.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has boxes of books stored away. I periodically pull some out to my TBR shelf, rearrange the contents, or add to them. As you say, it is a luxery knowing I will never want for anything to read, ranging from romance to mystery to thriller to the classics.
I mostly decide what to read next based on challenges I've committed to this year, or books/authors picked for monthly group reads. This year I joined the "Year of the Historical" challenge, determined to catch up on Johanna Lindsey. I had bought the last dozen or so books by her, but never got round to them. It's been fun catching up on her! I've also been trying to work in a few authors I've not read before and, since most of those I read are female, I've been trying to work in a few more male authors this year. So far, so good!
I like the idea of challenges, so long as they're not too, well, challenging. I don't want to get bored reading all the same thing. But one a month of a particular sub-genre, maybe.
I don't want to be too challenged, either – that's why I try to find some for which I already have books waiting to be read. That way it's more an "incentive" to read something than a challenge. It can be quite motivating!
"Incentive," yes. That's a good word.