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What to read?

One of the blessings of working in the publishing industry is that you’re given plenty of books for free. Right now, I’ve got three stacks of books and galleys on my desk, plus another tower on my night table at home, none of which I actually bought. And it’s not like they’re all cast-offs or remainders, either. We’re talking front-list, big-book titles here—in other words, good stuff!

Yet, as much as I appreciate the swag, I find that sometimes it’s a curse as well. The constant availability of books means that I often procrastinate on reading what I actually want to read—or worse, I don’t get to them at all. I’m a huge fan of the Hunger Games books, but it took me months to get around to Mockingjay, not because of the reviews or word-of-mouth, but because I simply had other stuff that looked intriguing at hand.  And I still haven’t gotten around to A Visit from the Good Squad. Or Freedom.

Are the freebies books I would have sought out and purchased? Probably not. But in most cases I was glad to read them, and certainly there’s an educational benefit to reading books on subjects I’d never consider while browsing in the store. On the other hand, it’s been years since I read any classics, because that would mean actually going out and getting the books—and I do worry that my sense of perspective has become limited to what’s contemporary.

I know, it’s pretty obnoxious to complain about having too many free books… and okay, when it comes to book shopping I’m remarkably lazy, too. But still, I’m curious: do you ever put off reading what you want for what’s at hand? Or are you always more focused in your reading choices? If so, do you have a varied reading list? Any strategies for mixing things up?

5 Responses to What to read?

  1. Stephanie says:

    I just got an e-reader, and one of my friends said, “Awesome! Want to share books!?” I’ve never had someone so excited to lend me their books, but I’m pretty excited about reading stuff I wouldn’t normally buy. ReadingFTW!

  2. Lisa Marie says:

    I have stacks of hardbacks and paperbacks and a queue of e-books waiting to be read. I actually like having a variety of books, because my mood changes from one day to the next. Tonight I might feel like reading Barry Eisler’s “Rain Fall.” But I also might feel like reading “The Lake,” by Banana Yoshimoto, because … well, have you *seen* the cover for that book? It’s gorgeous. I put down “Goon Squad” after five attempts; I can’t finish this book for love or money. It’s beautifully crafted, and it probably deserves a Pulitzer, but I can’t make a connection with the characters or the plot. Would I have been interested in it, had it not been hyped and I merely stumbled across it at the bookstore? Nope. But that’s okay. I appreciate Schubert and Beethoven, but find listening to their compositions tedious.

  3. Stephen says:

    You know how, when you go out for sushi, they put those little slivers of ginger on the plate next to the wasabi that nobody really ever eats?

    That’s what the classics are for me – pickled ginger shavings.

    At least in the context of palate cleansers. After a round or two of high concept YA, or some other contemporary flight of fancy, I like to squeeze in something totally different from an author that would make my high school English teacher proud.

    Like now. After a diet of recent dark YA titles, I’m reading Hemingway’s A MOVABLE FEAST. Side note: added “Move to Paris to write for a year or two” to the bucket list.

    If you’re feeling burdened by the heavy responsibility of these ARCs, I’d be happy to lighten the load. That’s just the selfless kind of guy I am. 😉

  4. Most of the time, I read to stay on top of my “competition” and since that means reading a lot of YA fiction, it’s not such a bad thing. I enjoy YA fiction. Still, I think it helps to keep track of what I’m reading through a site like Goodreads because I can actually review my queue periodically, and if I notice that something has been neglected for a while because it was added during one of my previous manic phases, I might shift gears.

    Also, I’m a more patient reader than I used to be, but I still see life and eyesight as precious gifts, so if something is really horrible, I don’t have any qualms about ditching it and moving on to the next book.

    Getting free books definitely changes how I read. However, I always keep my own list in mind.

    • Yolanda Watts says:

      I agree. Life is short, so being selective in our choices of what to read matters. I like the idea of using a site such as Goodreads to help keep track.

      Though I don’t have a massive collection of books to contend with, I noticed that when I watch those old film classics and in the background I see wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor bookshelves filled with books, I salivate.

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