Choosing Your Next Book, An Eccentric Way

31 May

  After having bought a new horde of books, the inevitable sense of guilt comes over me, what about all those books i’ve had since I was 18 that I haven’t read yet?  So the new books get subsumed into the mammoth to read pile to take their chances with all the other hopefuls. Then the fun begins.

First off, I do a few stretches (as this is a very tense situation), having limbered up I relax my mind and let my eyes slide over all the gloriously coloured spines, like a gull on the ocean waves, anything that appeals to me I pull out, usually the pile can be as many as thirty five books or as little as three. For the example’s sake I shall limit it to fifteen in this instance.

The hopefuls are then perused with the practised eye of the hoarder that I am. I read the back of each book (or inside flap, if you will), anything that seems agreeable will be put in the yes pile, and the negative pile also forms. Any maybes are instantly dismissed as I like to polarize this sort of stuff.

Taking it steady, I put back all the no books and start round two. Now down to around about 12 books, I flick to a random page and read a sentence or two.  If I have just read a particularly factual or book of the classics variety, I may be dissuaded from anything to heavy again unless the chosen sentence combined with the ‘blurb’ sways me. discarding books in the usual way, I am probably at about eight books now.

Lacking the imagination to devise a new way of whittling down the now ultra competitive field, all the books are put into genre, and narrowed down to one per genre. This is a headache as sub genres suddenly become important, do I put the two russian classics in with the Victorian classic, or do they form their own sub genre, thus giving said Victorian novel a bye to the next round? Do I divide travel and history into continent or time period, what about fiction, do I count horror in with that or separate it out. Sci Fi and Fantasy seem to be lumped together but should I?

Finally the field is narrowed down to circa five. Usually one or two I put back on the shelf because my whimsical nature has turned on them. Then the real stress starts with three books left, how do I pick? They are all fantastic sounding, I don’t want to make a mistake with my chosen book in case I enjoy it less than it deserves.  The criteria for my next read then becomes a tad obscure. I start to factor in pros and cons for the books. How will people judge me when they see this front cover? If I meet friends will they be impressed with what i’m reading? Should I challenge myself with a long book or have an easy read? Etc, etc, ad infinitum.

After the endless torment (between 10 minutes and 2 hours, and that was a tough decision that day), I finally pick the chosen book, usually resorted to by asking someone to pick a number between one and three and telling myself I will read the others next. I rarely do though.

The torture isn’t over though, recriminations usually go through my head, if I don’t gel with the book within say fifty pages I tell myself I have probably made a mistake the other book(s) is(are) better. Etc, etc. After 100 pages or so, I have settled into my book and don’t give the other books a second thought, until I get near the end, then my eyes start to glide around all the unread books I own and the cycle of stress begins again.  I think after reading this back, I may be a little weird after all. Am I really alone in this or will you guys back me up with your weird and wonderful stories?


Posted by on 31/05/2012 in Eccentricities


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7 responses to “Choosing Your Next Book, An Eccentric Way

  1. Tom

    01/06/2012 at 15:45

    That is me.

    Only with me it is with films.

    Big love.


  2. Claire 'Word by Word'

    17/06/2012 at 14:16

    I can’t take time over a decision, even if I tell myself otherwise – it is often made in haste, but while reading one book I’m looking at the shelf, being inspired here there and everywhere by things I read, other blogs, the Books section of the Guardian, a comment from a friend, so a rearranged pile starts up somewhere, from which I think I will choose the next book, because there is always a link between the last few days and what I read next – at least thats what I think as I create this new pile – and then a quick trip to the library with my son and the pile is forgotten, I come home with two new books with a deadline. I start to read and begin compiling a new pile from which I may choose what to read next, until…


    • StetotheJ

      17/06/2012 at 20:28

      And I thought I had a convoluted way of choosing! I tend to shy away from anything book related as my piles are already to big but really wow, how you actually cope I do not know.


      • Claire 'Word by Word'

        17/06/2012 at 20:39

        I think I cope ok because its not something I worry about, I find it a joy and stimulating to have books everywhere and then when I finally finish a book, there remains the excitement of what might come next – I totally love my process 🙂


        • StetotheJ

          17/06/2012 at 20:43

          I might go with your way, it sounds so laid back, the way you put it. I constantly panic that i’m reading the wrong book at the wrong time. I’m a method reader, summer books in summer to get the full effect, books about Russia in the autumn/winter as that is the classic view of Russia being all cold etc. I may finally be able to enjoy choosing a book in the future. Thankyou.


  3. Anna

    01/03/2014 at 08:24

    Those struggles are so familiar…


    • Ste J

      01/03/2014 at 10:17

      I’m glad I am not alone in my ways…the time it takes me to find a book is obscene, it really is.



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