The "To-Be-Read" Pile

Any book-reader worth his or her salt will have lots of books lying around the house waiting to be read. Sandra, over on her Book World litbog has actually gone to the trouble of listing them. And, what's more, keeps the list up to date. At present the number of books she has waiting for her has hit 200, and an interesting list it is as well; though it does tend to the literary end of the scale with Milton and Faulkner rubbing shoulders with Robertson Davies and Michael Moorcock (Mother London rather than any of the Elric novels). I was pleased to see that she had at least one Australian novel on her list in Peter Carey's Jack Maggs.

The problem she has now, of course, is what to read. Which of the 200 hundred do you choose first? The most recent? The oldest? Pot-luck? Should there be a system at all?

C. Max Magee over at The Millions only has 40 books on his to-be-read list and still feels it necessary to have a system, of sorts. He utilises a random number generator. A strange way to choose but he seems happy with it.

For my part, I don't keep a list of unread books in the house. And there are a couple of reasons for that: a) if my wife ever found it I'd be banned from buying anything new until the current list was down to manageable proportions; and b) I might actually come to the conclusion that a book purge was in order. And we can't have that now, can we?

A few years back I started to make lists each Christmas of the books I wanted to read in the coming year. There'd generally be one or two authors whose entire back catalogue was included (I tried to make this one literary author and one genre - either crime or sf); a travel book; the shortlisted novels from one year's Booker prize; two European novels in translation, from different countries; two prize-winning Australian novels; a biography and a popular science book. All very challenging and very commendable.

It certainly made me feel better, especially after I typed it up and downloaded it to my Palm Pilot. Rather like a good New Year's resolution. Which was also the way it tended to be treated. Everything would run along swimmingly for the first couple of weeks and then I'd read a review of an interesting book that just cried out to be read NOW, and the whole thing would fall in a screaming heap. I'd come back to the list from time to time over the year and see how I was going. The response was "pathetic", generally. So I've given that up now.

Now I just follow where the will takes me. I read the five novels shortlisted for this year's Miles Franklin award, but I'm about 3 or 4 years behind on the Booker prize-winners. I've cleaned up a couple of books I half-finished last year with a couple more still to go. And I'm trying to keep my internet book orders down to four a year - two from the US and two from the UK, two each around my birthday and Christmas.

So I'm trying to be good, trying to do the right thing and clear up the back-log. If only I could get up the enthusiasm to read all those American sf paperbacks I bought 30 years ago I might just start making some headway.

If Rankin brings out a new book this year I'm dead in the water.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 14, 2005 4:03 PM.

That Harry Kid was the previous entry in this blog.

Kate Grenville is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en