Sunday, February 21, 2010
Sunday Salon: How do you pick your next read?
One of my best friends came home to Chicago this past week, bringing with her a bundle of exciting (and massive) books for me to borrow and read. I returned the favor, giving her two full bags of books to take back to St. Paul with her.
In addition to this exciting pile of fantasy and science fiction doorstoppers (seriously, the shortest one is over 650 pages. I do not lie), I have books to read for the Classics Circuit, for the Spotlight Series, for review and (gasp! Is it possible?!) for my own enjoyment, from my own collection.
So how do I pick the next book to read? Previously, if I had a book that had to be reviewed by a certain date, I would freak out and read that book first and then just save the review. I'm one of those people who always worries that if she tries to read and review the book on the day it's due, she will inevitably not be finished with it by then. So before, I'd always read them really early and breathe a sigh of relief that I would be done in time. Now, I cut the deadlines pretty close. I have not yet even started my book for the Classics Circuit and it's "due" on the 28th. Hey, I'm living on the edge!
So usually, if I have review books to read, and I'm in the right mood, then those are the books I'll pick to read next and review. However, when I have more time free, then the options widen amazingly! I have purposely accepted very few books for review lately so that I will have this freedom. There are a lot of enticing books on my shelves and I want to read them.
I'm a very moody reader. I pick the next book I read based on what stands out to me at the time. Do I feel like a funny book? Or an emotional one? Do I want a short book or do I want to sink my teeth into an epic? Fantasy or historical fiction? Fiction or non-fiction?
I look forward to that feeling of anticipation, when I'm not quite sure what I'll be reading next, when my wall of bookshelves is completely open to me and any story I pick could conceivably change my life. I love slowly pulling a book from the shelf, examining the cover, reading the back blurb, and then deciding whether that is the right book for me at the time. Sometimes it is, but if it's not- back the book goes to the shelf to await its turn.
It's really for the sake of this short, anticipatory moment that I have put something of a moratorium on accepting books to review. I know a lot of people love receiving ARCs and free books. There is even an "ARC Junkies" group on LibraryThing. I find that bizarre, because why would someone love an ARC? Isn't it the book that inspires love, not the free galley copy of it? Its disturbs me that there are people out there that just like getting books because they are free, not because the story or the author or the plot really draws their attention.
This especially disturbs me because one person signed up for the Spotlight Series seeming to expect Unbridled Books to send her a free copy to read and review. When we later told this blogger that free copies would not be coming to her (or to anyone), she lost interest in participating in the series (which she had previously said was a "great idea"). I do not often get angry at the book blogging community, but this situation really bothered me. Since when is it a blogger's right to get free books, to the point that this person would expect a free copy of an unreleased book from a publisher that, as mentioned in the Spotlight Series blurb, does not have a huge marketing budget? And then why would that same blogger lose interest in participating in a series just because the book would not be sent to her for free?! There are libraries and, God forbid, bookstores, in which you can get your own copy of a book. It is not a publisher's job to provide you with a free copy just because you are a blogger. I don't think I have ever been so upset with book blogdom as I was in that situation. I can't imagine the sense of entitlement that goes along with that thought process, and it deeply disturbs me that there are apparently people out there who are blogging just to get free books.
But I digress.
I love free books, but not so much that I am willing to let them dictate my reading schedule. I do not like reading to a schedule. I value that moment between books, in which I determine what I'll read next, when I have so many options before me and can pick whatever I want. I don't like thinking, "Well, I guess I should read X next since I have to review it." It feels so binding and regimented.
I know the next book I read will be my choice for February's Classics Circuit. But after that... I'm free! I'm open! I can read whatever I want. I think I know which book I'll read after the Classics Circuit, because I really want to finish a particular fantasy series. But... I don't have to read that book. I can read whatever I want. Because for now, I have no reading/reviewing commitments and it's a glorious feeling :-)
How do you pick what you'll read next? Do you just go up to your shelves and see what jumps out at you, the way that I do? Or do you have a more structured method of deciding?
Note: I am out of town today and will be gone until Tuesday. If I do not respond to your comments on this post, please don't think I'm ignoring you :-) Have fun! Discuss amongst yourselves!