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Thinking and writing about reading

August 25, 2013

Almost all of my books are up at my new place, finally.  I have a handful of fiction and non-fiction that need to go where they need to go because I found them later in the Great Unpacking, and I may have to buy another shelf for my husband’s gaming books, and I haven’t even put up yearbooks and photo albums yet, but I feel almost done, and that’s something.  They look nice, and they’re in an order that makes sense to me.  Fantastic progress, me.

We got rid of a lot of stuff when we thought we were moving across country.  (Military.  What can you do?)  I got rid of a lot of to-reads that I hadn’t yet read.  Some of them I’m pretty sure I bought almost eight years ago.  I converted a lot of the classics into e-books for the shelf space.  That was nice, but I still feel bad, and I had to figure out why.  Although my buying of books has screeched to a stop (um, mostly), the overwhelming feeling that I have too many books unread drags me down.  Really far, actually, so far that I realized recently that reading has ceased to be something I fully enjoy for its own sake and has become, in some ways, yet another chore.

This is devastating.  Really.  My head went quiet.  I just stood there, realizing it.  Letting it wash over me.  Hating it, hating myself for it, but knowing it to be completely true.  I’m upset that the number of “currently-reading” books on Goodreads is thirteen, not one.  Knowing that it’s because I had to return some of the books, or move on to my next book club read, and left them up to remind myself to get to them later, but later never happened.

BUT.  This is a word that comes up so much with me lately.

I’m trying to think of ways to deal with these feelings.  I’ve noticed that when I’m about to start something new, I go to the to-read case–a case filled with books I’ve always wanted to read!–and feel like there’s nothing that interests me. I think that’s because there’s TOO MUCH that interests me.  I keep choosing based on time–how long before the next book club selection needs to be begun?  Surely the McCulloughs are too long to start NOW, and that Jude Deveraux is just going to annoy me right now because it’s too old/romancey/cheesy.  Maybe at some other time, it will be nostalgic, but not right now.  Those two books there belonged to my grandmother, and she’s been gone a while now, but will it upset me too much to read them?  Will my husband make fun of me too much if I start that Ayn Rand book, and will I snap at him for it?  But that one there, that Ann M. Martin, is such a SMALL book.  It’d be barely like I read anything off the shelf at all!

AND SO ON.  AND SO BUT.

One of the decisions I came to is that I’m going to start assigning books to years.  That way, they will be read, but I won’t have the feeling they’ll all need to be read RIGHT NOW.  A few years ago, I decided to make a list of books that I “might” get to that year off the to-read case.  This worked at first, but as the list disappeared into the internet-past, it was harder and harder to remember to work off of it.  This time, I’ll keep that list on my desktop AND it won’t be fifty books long AND there will be no might or maybe about it.  And that list will not just be about 2013, but 2014 and 2015 as well.

I am also doing better about trading off library books and book club books and to-read case books, but I may well make a rule for that as well.  To trade off, or to create a ratio.  There’s no way I’m not getting that Life as We Knew It book from the library the SECOND it comes in, or the very last Alice book.  These things will happen, because me wants, but not enough to buy them.  (It’s likely that I’ll get the Pfeffer eventually but not right now.)  There will be other books I’ll want to get from the library–I just read a book that was the 4th in a romance series and both the 3rd and the 4th were free from BEA, so I’ll probably get the first two, because I like knowing the names of romance authors who don’t make me want to bash my head against a wall.  And romances are fun to read when you want something fast, like comic books.  And I’ll still get comic trades from the library because, again, I’m not buying them.  The only comic series I still buy is Buffy, and I can wait until my birthday/Christmas for that.  Everything else?  Library.

I think the plan, then, is to deny myself nothing, but be a little bit more structured in HOW I read, so that I feel less overwhelmed.  I think it’s a good plan.

What do you think?

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