Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Choice, So Much Choice: How Do We Keep Up?

I can’t remember ever being more overwhelmed by choice when it comes to deciding what I’m going to read next. I still remember those days before the internet when I dreaded finishing a book because I had no idea where my next book was coming from. That, of course, was because no internet, meant no way to download a book in ten or fifteen seconds any hour of the day that the urge struck me to do so, and because books were relatively expensive to me when compared to my piddling amount of disposable income. 

And no internet, meant that I had to work hard to learn about new books because I pretty much had to depend on the Sunday newspaper to review maybe four or five books for me that were being released that week. If I was lucky, one or two of them might even appeal to me; if I was even luckier, I might be able to scrape together the money to buy one of them. Nowadays an avid booklover can find more book news than they can possibly read or absorb before it goes out of date. With just a few exceptions, American newspapers have canned just about all of their book reviewers, but there are book blogs, book vlogs, Amazon and Barnes & Noble reader-reviews, on line literary magazines, print magazines dedicated to new books, library site reviews, GoodReadsLibraryThing, and on, and on, and on. So much choice.

Last week I posted about the exercise I went through to cull a few books off the TBR list I keep over on GoodReads. That resulted in three books being removed, a good thing, but I almost immediately added two books to the same list based on a comment made on the very post noting the three-book removal. Net gain: one book less on the list. 

The GoodReads list (123) is made up mostly of books published in the last ten years or so, but not a whole lot of them from the current year, so I have been keeping a handwritten second list of newly published books (44) that I depend on my library to find for me if I can’t somehow first snag a pre-publication review copy. (I know that makes it sound as if I don’t buy books anymore, but I’ve already bought five in August and the month still has ten days to go. Now let’s add all those books (37) that have been given to me this year (I call these my “trunk books” because that’s where I keep them), all of which I want to read sooner or later, and we are up to 209 books that I fully intend to read at some point. I won’t even try to count  the several dozen books on my shelves that I haven’t read yet – because I’m not crazy enough to believe that I will ever read all of those.

So, I’m going to try something different for a while by simultaneously reading a book from each of these categories:

·     Review Copies
·     Library Copies
·     Bookshelf Copies
·     Trunk Books

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This is in lieu of allowing my choices to be limited by what is on the TBR lists, because let’s face it, those lists will never go away – and none of us really want them to. But of course, there are many, many TBR list books in each of the four categories I’ve designated, so this is kind of a win-win proposition. If I don't do something like this, I know that I will end up reading nothing but books published in the current year - and that can't be good.

12 comments:

  1. I feel your pain! My library is smaller than yours (I peeked) but I've got 584 TBR books on my shelves- yes I want to read them all, or I wouldn't have acquired them- although some were merely out of curiosity rather than based on reviews or already loving the author. My listed TBR, which is kept on my blog, must have even more titles. I have never counted that.

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    1. Even at the rate that terrible books are being added to the haystack these days, making it harder and harder to find the good stuff, my list would go up by at least 20 books a month if I let it. That's why so many books that I really want badly to read end up getting lost in the stack for months...or years...at a time. That bugs me.

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  2. I once read a book I'd had around for eight years. Usually I hope they don't linger that long.

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    1. I hear that. I bought Amy Tan's "the Joy Luck Club" when it first came out in 1989. I finally read it last year.

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  3. When we moved about 10 years ago, I culled my physical books from just over 1,000 to about 250 today. Mind you, once I've read a book it automatically gets donated. 250 is more manageable space wise for sure but, I must confess, I now have over 2,000 eBooks on my Kindle - LOL

    I'm usually drawn to what is popular, but try to pull a few off those shelves now and then from days gone by.

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    1. I have room to comfortably fit around 1100 books on the shelves in my study; the problem is that I have another three or four hundred stashed in a couple of closets - and that's after getting rid of around 300 books last year. Now I've had to resort to one-book-in-one-book-out because even those closets are pretty full. And that's about as disciplined as I can be when it comes to acquiring books.

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  4. I always struggle to find that right bookish balance between older books and new; ones on my shelf vs. ones from the library; and the ones that everyone's talking about or the ones that have been on my TBR list for years. Good luck with your new system!

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    1. I didn't have nearly as much time to read back in the seventies, eighties, and nineties as I have today and that makes me wonder what great books from those decades that I missed. But if I can't keep up with all the 2019 books I want to read, there is not a great chance that I'll ever go back and explore those decades. We'll see how long this idea lasts.

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  5. I honestly think the reason I have *so* much trouble choosing the next book to read is that I have too much choice. Too many wonderful books sitting on the shelves, on my Kindle and Nook, and on the library pile. I just look at them all and, although I love owning them, I'm just terrible at deciding what I'm in the mood for. And then, just to make life easier, I buy more at the drop of a hat. And, just to be contrary, I'm actually disappointed when I've read something off the TBR pile and realise it's a keeper. Which is ridiculous because that means I loved it... but... it's not bringing the pile down because I it's not going into the charity shop box. Oh, the trials of being a book lover.

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    1. That's it exactly, Cath. Sometimes it's just easier to go out and buy a new book instead of trying to choose one from such a large stack of books already waiting to be read. Well said.

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  6. YES! I have SO many books already and I keep accumulating more and yet, I have such a hard time deciding what to read next. Sticking to a reading schedule doesn't seem to work for me, so I mostly just grab whatever book strikes my fancy at that particular moment. Sometimes it's a book that's been on my shelf for years, other times it's a bright, shiny new one that just came out, and other times it's something that caught my eye at the library. Too much choice can be a bad thing, but sometimes it's also a really, really good thing :)

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  7. LOL And there you have it: too much choice is a good thing...right until the moment it becomes a bad thing.

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