Your nightstand is overflowing, your Reader’s Journal is full, your library books are overdue, and you have scribblings of book recommendations everywhere you look.
It’s a reading list explosion.
Even worse, the list of books you want to read keeps growing and growing at the same rate that your reading time is shrinking and shrinking. You have so much wishful reading to do, you don’t know where to begin.
Well, it’s time to take charge, and get your reading list under control. A few tips to help get things in check:
1) Cull (some of) the Classics: Contrary to popular belief, you won’t be unfulfilled as a human being if you don’t read, say, The Heart of Midlothian. In fact, reading that book actually shaved five years off of my life. There are many classics worth reading, but if a book doesn’t interest you, cross it off your list. You’ll feel liberated — trust me. And, if you can’t bring yourself to cull the classics, at least, cull the Cullens. Please?
2) Obey the Five Year Rule: This is like the clothes-in-your-closet rule, only a little more forgiving. If a book’s been on your list since the wild days of suspenders and tight-rolling your jeans, get rid of it. If it’s a book you’ve started and stopped, and started and stopped again, I have something to tell you — you’re probably not going to like it. If you’re meant to read it, it will come back to haunt you until you finally do. In the meantime, your list looks a lot prettier this way.
3) Give it a chance. But, not too long: I give myself seventy-five pages to get comfortable with a book. If I can still hear my family speaking around me while I’m reading (and care that they haven’t eaten in twelve hours), it’s not worth my time. I know a lot of people who give far less wiggle room — fifty pages, twenty-five pages…, two. It’s up to you to figure out your threshold for painful story-telling, and then stick to it.
4) Read what you like: This may seem like an excerpt from The Idiot’s Guide to Reading, but here’s the thing…we’re often influenced by what others are reading. The self-help saviors. The best-selling novels. The books our well-read friend deems as “transcending the organic essence of the page.” Here’s what I say — First, your friend may have a drinking problem, and second, if you’re a grown adult who likes to read picture books about the creation of bloomers, then, by golly, read them! You shouldn’t have to choke down the latest by Mitch Albom just because everyone in your women’s club has read it. Don’t apologize for what excites you as a reader.
Okay, now that you’ve whittled down your list a bit, I have some good news for you; You’ll still never get through it.
Why is this good? Because, it means that there will never be a shortage of brilliant writers creating entertaining, interesting and challenging material for you to read.
No matter what medium the future brings — ebooks, or an outlet that plugs directly into your brain (a la The Matrix) — there will always be too much great stuff.
And, that’s a good thing.
The next book on my list is Honolulu by Alan Brennert. How about yours?
*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving