Thursday, July 10, 2008

So About That Blood Oath...

I haven't been doing very well on my summer reading list. If you'll recall, I posted an ambitious list of titles I was going to tackle this summer. So far, I've read one of them. Julie Klam's Please Excuse My Daughter (which was terrific, and you should listen to her on Blogtalk Radio. It's an extensive interview...more on this book later).

I think I'm not very good at predicting what I'll want to read in the future. Look at my Goodreads page. I put things on "To Read," and then they just sit there, like the bunch of Japanese Broccoli I got at the Farmer's Market, convinced I'd make it into something delicious and wonderful, only to toss in the trash, wilted and gray, a week later. It just never went with anything I was making. It's depressing.

I will still get to a few of the books on this list (it is only July), but I've been reading other stuff. What other stuff? Thanks for asking. I'm reading David Browne's engrossing biography of Sonic Youth, Goodbye 20th Century. I'm also reading a bizarre and stimulating collection of short stories called The Baum Plan for Financial Independence, by John Kessel.

So why can't I stick to my summer road map? Does anybody else have this problem? Maybe I distract easily, or maybe working in a bookstore just provides too many choices, too many options. I'd be curious to know how people decide what they're reading next, and how far off they plan in advance. Do you have a list? Do you have a full-fledged "Reading Queue" like Max? Or do you just grab whatever catches your eye at that moment?

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At 8:27 PM, Blogger e said...

I'm not going to let another opportunity to answer one of your non-rhetorical questions pass. Also, I'm avoiding real work.

My wife suspects that I buy books by the yard, but I really just pick up things that interest me. Which means that I have too many things to choose from and can sometimes get addled when I dip into too many at once.

Last week, I was trying to read concurrently (or simultaneously, really): E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime, Ford Maddox Ford's The Good Soldier, Uwem Akban's Say You Are One of Them and Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Plus, some short stories and a couple of long New Yorker articles. All good stuff. My brain started to hurt and I couldn't decide which good book to pursue until a book fell on my desk at work. The result? I'm in the middle of Scott Smith's The Ruins. (It's OK so far.)

Sigh. I look at it as rebooting my brain. Once my head is clear I can start back on things I've been wanting to read. Like Under the Volcano. And all those Russians I've never read. And...

Keep up the good work,

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Patrick said...


Thanks for commenting. Right after BEA I had a similar experience. I had just gotten a stack of great books, plus I was doing some review work for Publishers Weekly, and I was getting ready to interview David Sedaris, so I had his new book going as well. Somehow, Girl Factory, by Jim Krusoe came out of the stack and said, "Read me," which I did (and really liked it, by the way), but after that, I started dipping into things, and then ended up with the two books I'm reading now. I think a novel is in order after this, but I'm not sure what.

It's strange, because I used to be a one-book-at-a-time guy, but reviewing and working in a bookstore again has sort of forced me to change. And I kind of like it. I feel like I get through more books than I used to. And taking the train to work helps with this, too.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Anne said...

For years, as a bookseller, I have felt an obligation to read something current or forthcoming. At the beginning of 2008 I gave myself permission to read whatever strikes my fancy. The result? I'm enjoying reading more. I've read about twice the number of books so far this year as I have the previous few years, and the best things I've read lately are older titles: Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore (1994) and The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert (2002). I usually alternate fiction and nonfiction but I decided to forgo that pattern this year, and consequently I'm reading a lot more nonfiction than I previously have. Next up? A reread of Harriet the Spy, which I haven't tackled since sixth grade.


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