Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This sisyphean task

Just when I think that I might make a dent in my book pile, Multnomah County Library (you're voting yes on the initiative, yes?) throws me for a loop. I knocked off a couple over the weekend, when the new Bob Woodward became available. Since there are 400 holds after me, I better get reading. Thanks to our good librarian friends I am also reading a book about AQ Khan. If you don't know who he is, you should. The next nuclear use against a city will likely be his fault. I also am finally reading a Henning Mankell book. If you like your mysteries as bleak as a Swedish January, well step on up.

I really shouldn't complain though, once your reading stack is as big as mine, it will never be finished anyway.


lisa_emily said...

when I think about my to-read list, I break out in a cold sweat. What's even crazier is that I'll read a book on my to-read list- then it leads me to 3 other books that I now must read, and or have started to read, therefore causing me to fall even further behind. But I can't complain, at least I'll never run out of books!

Tripp said...

That's a very nice glass-is-half-full argument. Whenever I encounter someone new (to me), like Jonathan Carroll for instance, I suddenly want to read all of their books.

Nonfiction authors that provide bibliographies often confound me with their long lists of books I want.

Steve said...

I had to stop reading book reviews altogether once the stack reached 250 or so (my wife once counted and refused to tell me the actual number - I am afraid to raise the subject again). I find that the large number of books waiting for me causes me to select shorter books because they require less of a commitment - not a good development.

Tripp said...

Steve, there is good reason to read shorter books. Consider, if you choose to read a Neal Stephenson novel, you are losing the opportunity to read THREE shorter works (say a Jonathan Carroll, an Iris Murdoch and a Ken Bruen to be genre-agnostic,) in the same time frame.

Given your immense stack it is only reasonable to read shorter books.

lisa_emily said...

I tend to read book in subjects, since I mostly read nonfiction-so the shorter book tactic won't work for me.

But i give it the two chapter test, if its boring in hell after 2 chapters- done deal- next book!
Have to keep them moving along and all that!

Tripp said...

No, nonfiction writers tend to the verbose. Too much so often. I've come to appreciate clarity in argument. I like authors who state their thesis right up front. This way you can sort of pick and choose the chapters you want to read. This doesn't work well in history, but in lots of nonfiction it does.

I like your two chapter rule, although sadly it would not work in the very long fantasy novel category. This is one where a cut off point would be great, but just doesn't work well. For example, Canadian Steve Erikson's first book, Gardens of the Moon, which is close to 700 pages long doesn't really take off until page 350. It's well worth it once you get past it, but how would you know?