Sunday, 2 November 2014

Spoiled for choice?

Gaps on bookshelves? In my dreams.
I can honestly say that reading has made me the woman I am today. It's not a hobby, it's a way of life, something I do every day in a variety of places. However tired I am, it's impossible to settle down to sleep without picking up the book on my bedside table. The prospect of a train or bus journey without something to read is unthinkable. And yet recently I've had to downgrade myself from a 'voracious' reader to an 'enthusiastic' one, due to a lack of time. 

Taking all this into consideration, why is it that when I finish a book these days, I find choosing which one to read next so challenging? Am I overwhelmed by sheer numbers (500 or so on real and virtual shelves), like when I try to buy shampoo in a big branch of Boots? Or has my selection of what to read next become more critical because I don't have time to waste on a book which may prove disappointing?

I’ve experimented with different ways to tackle my vacillation. Sometimes I stand in front of the bookshelves, close my eyes and put out a hand. I’ve even resorted to asking my husband to pick a title, but for some reason I’m never happy with his choices. Most recently, I declared October my Scandi-crime month. And this seemed to work.

Pulling together all the physical copies of qualifying titles, many of which I'd owned for years, I piled them on top of the filing cabinet. Books by Sjowall & Wahloo, Larsson, Mankell, Indridason and Fossum stared at me every time I entered the study. And I started working through them.

This makes it sound like a chore but how could it be? I enjoyed some more than others, and haven't managed them all yet, but I've definitely read more this October than I have for a long time. So I plan to continue reading by monthly 'theme' for a while.

Inspired by this year’s Book Week Scotland (24-30 Nov), November is my Scottish Crime Fiction month. I've already started the Frederic Lindsay.

December’s theme is going to be friends’ books. I’m privileged to know a lot of writers yet rarely seem to get round to reading their books. Because Christmas will be spent lounging on the sofa reading while John cooks to his heart’s content, I should be able to make good progress through the list I’ve come up with for this.

And then in no particular order, I intend to spend a month each on:


Short stories:

Later on in 2015 I shall revisit old favourites and the few ‘Golden Age’ crime novels I possess, and take in some crime fiction debuts.

Do you ever feel spoiled for choice and if so, how do you choose what to read next? And can you suggest any reading themes I should consider? Remember, my aim isn’t to buy more books (aye, right!) but to read the ones I already own.


  1. I know exactly what you mean, Janet: even after I decided to read more for pleasure rather than just for reviewing purposes, it's still a difficult choice... and so many books staring at me from my bookshelves, trying to make me feel guilty (and succeeding, usually). As for the shampoo choice? I remember when I first arrived in the UK after my years in a Communist country with restricted choices in shopping, I nearly burst into tears in the cereal aisle, trying to decide what to eat for breakfast.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Marina Sofia. I can't imagine how reviewers and bloggers manage their TBR piles with all those new books arriving.

  2. I've recently felt completely overwhelmed by my huge TBR heap, to the point of feeling physically ill. These days I always seem to have a problem choosing the next book to read and have also on occasion enlisted my husband's help (but then ignored his choice ... !) I'm recovering a bit and have selected my books for November, a few hardbacks which I want to 'get out of the way' and have earmarked Middlemarch for December ... and I'm sticking with my book buying ban for a little while at least.

    1. I'm trying to at least restrict my book-buying too, Claire, but volunteering in a charity shop where staff get any book they want for free, on the understanding it's returned when read, is proving my undoing. I hope you manage to clear enough of your books so the pleasure of reading returns.

  3. I know this feeling only too well. The only solution I've found is to try pot luck, dipping randomly into the TBR pile and seeing what comes out....

    1. You probably have a bigger TBR pile than most of us, Martin!