Thursday, July 14, 2011

No New Books!

I love a challenge. The largest ongoing problem in my life over the last year has been a lack of reading time. My TBR (to-be-read) list always grows more quickly than the list of books I’ve finished, but the gap is widening at an alarming rate. I’ve purchased several books at garage sales or at the library for less than a dollar, and I want to read them and get them out of my house. Half a dozen times over the last year, I’ve had to return unread books to the library and/or inactivate books on my hold queue because library books were coming in faster than I could read them. Considering books are checked out for three weeks and I read very fast, that’s pretty sad. Also, after wanting to join a book club for a few years, I found one I want to try out. I plan to attend my first meeting in August, which means I’ll have a monthly deadline to complete a book. Finally, my BFF came across the list “1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die,” and we’ve begun a sort of loose, two-person book club based on the list.

All these are things I *want* to do, yet they are a bit overwhelming. I’m happiest when I’m crossing something off my to-do list; having a list that grows faster than I can complete tasks (or books) is stressful. Because of this, I’m establishing a new challenge for myself. I have compiled a TBR list based upon my Amazon wish list, my library hold queue, the “1,001 Books” list, and upcoming book club meetings. Tonight I will add the books I’ve acquired over the last year to the TBR list. I expect the total will be about 100 titles.

At that point, the list will be closed. Until I complete every book on the list, no titles will be added, and I will only read books from the list. (Exception - new releases, not yet announced, from series in which I have read all titles.) To keep me honest, here’s a list of the series which fall under this exception:

Alan Bradley – Flavia de Luce series
Janet Evanovich – Stephanie Plum series
Linda Fairstein – Alexandra Cooper series
Philippa Gregory – 15th century Plantagenet series and 16th century Tudor series
Charlaine Harris – Sookie Stackhouse series
Jonathan Kellerman – Alex Delaware series
Kathy Reichs – Temperance Brennan series
Daniel Silva – Gabriel Allon series

Considering that I’m on track to read about 50 books in 2011, I expect that completing the list will take 18-24 months. During that time, I will inevitably get recommendations for books. These titles will be added to a new list, but I intend to be extremely selective. Even if I could read for hours every day, I could not read all the books I want to read during my lifetime. And I don’t want to always feel that I’m trying to catch up. Having a TBR list that stays relatively stable at 20-ish books is fine. Having a list of over 90 books (and growing all the time) feels like an insurmountable task.

Reading is a joy to me, and I will lose that if it becomes stressful or feels like a chore. I’m going to use this challenge to try to focus on the present, to fully enjoy the book I’m reading, and to not worry about how many books are on hold at the library or stacking up in my house.


Carol said...

The book list is complete. Final count is 102 books.

Erin said...

I have a book list problem too. I have a small book shelf where I keep my books I have not read yet. I am constantly going through the dollar section at half price and my parents pick up books at garage sales and when they are done they give them to me. Anyways I have about 35 books on my shelf currently and a list of about 30 more. I set a goal for myself and as a college student I feel its rather ambitious. From the time I started college to the time I graduate I would like to read 100 books. I found a site that keeps track of these things for me. I love shelfari! Its through amazon so it will transfer your amazon purchases to your shelf.

you can check out my profile on shelfari if you would like to

Carol said...

I'm glad you're tracking your books, Erin! I kept a list of what I read in high school, and started tracking again in 2008. I transferred it to an Excel spreadsheet, so it's very easy to see what I've read, if I've already read a particular book, or how I rated a book by a particular author (so I can decide if I want to read another of their books).

It's really cool to be able to look back and see what I was reading during a certain time in my life.

Erin said...

yeah I am a bit of a list maker and writer so I like seeing all the covers of all the books I own on this neat little website. I also keep track of where I got the books from, who recommended them to me and what I paid for them on the website.

OutsidetheLinez said...

I've been looking over our list of 1,001 Books and so far the books that I know I've read most I think I should read again. We were introduced to many great classics in our GTA classes but unfortunately I think we got short changed, too. For example: The Scarlet Letter. I really want to re-read that one. I know for a fact that at the age of 12 that book did not have the proper impact on me. Adultery? Unwed mother? Being ostracized? (Okay, maybe I had a grasp of that one at a young age lol)
I'm rechecking the spreadsheet for any I might have missed. I hope to have it back to you soon. Chances are you can pick a book from your list and I likely haven't read it yet. Just let me know which one you want to start with.
(and I promise to check my mail for the book tomorrow since it should be on its way)

Carol said...

Erin - I like the things you track! Those will be fun to look back on later. I may start tracking who recommended a book to me, too.

Jen - I wrote a blog post about that very subject not too long ago, about how literature is wasted on teenagers. I'll look at my list later and email you. If you have something you really want to start with, let me know!