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February 1, 2010

So Many Books, So Little Time

Posted by webmaster
Today's guest blogger, Denise Neary, an avid reader and the leader of a mother/daughter book club talks about figuring out what to read when there is so much to choose from.

As I would guess is true for everyone who reads Reading Group Guides, selecting books to read is a tough business for me. Trite but true-- so many books, so little time.

The holidays present the delightful dilemma of lots of new books. Do I read the ones I requested, or the ones that people gave me, first? It is a lot of pressure!

Sometimes I like a book so much that I read it too fast---I am so busy finishing it that I don’t take the time to enjoy it. And when someone gives me a book, I want to be able to tell them something specific that I enjoyed in reading it.

Unlike many avid readers, I can only read one book at a time. I read (and enjoy) a variety of books, some widely accepted as literature and some decidedly not considered literature.

As is also true for most people reading Reading Group Guides, I have considerable assigned reading during the year---my book club books. I love it when I am “assigned” something wonderful to read. And even if the selection is less than my dream come true, I am happy to step into another world.

Each year, I try to reread a classic. This year, it was Pride and Prejudice. Now that was lovely holiday reading---and if you go too fast with that book, you are really missing the wonder of Jane Austen.

There are some authors I just have to read---Margaret Atwood, Pat Conroy, Roddy Doyle, John Irving, Alice McDermott, Anne Tyler, Jennifer Weiner.

I made a promise to myself when I was about 16 that I would always read at least one book on the New York Times bestseller list per year---although a complete misuse of the spirit of that promise, as well as the creation of an expanded bestseller list, let me coast on What to Expect When You are Expecting for a few critical years.

I am jealous when people tell me about books they are reading that I haven’t yet read. I am actively aware that I will never catch up----books are being written faster than I can read them----so I aim for reading as many wonderful things as I can.

If I am between books, I have a highly scientific way of selecting my next read. I use public transportation as a guide----which books are grabbing the attention of my fellow commuters? I look for rapt attention; I especially listen for sighs and laughs. If I see a tear roll or hear an actual laugh, it is all I can do not to grab the book out of the hands of its reader.

Reread a classic? Visit with a favorite author? Try a new author, or someone who “everyone” is reading? Everyone should have such dilemmas.