Thursday, December 13, 2007

Picking the next book

In looking at my next book to read, I have a bad habit of picking books I am less likely to enjoy than one I am likely to enjoy. A case in point in the Omnivore's Dilemma, which I am greatly enjoying. Despite my great interest in the subject matter (food and the American diet) and the great accolades accorded the book, I let it sit on my shelf while books I could have safely bet I would like less made it to the bedside first. Why?

I can point to a few reasons that lead to sub-optimal reading for me.

Gift or loan book: If someone gives or loans you a book, they expect to hear back about it, so these books tend to head to the front of the line. Sometimes they are in fact the best choice, as has happened recently with the Malazan books and Shot in the Heart. The better someone knows you, the better off you are.

Library books: I tend to check books out willy nilly. I can take the risk because there is no cash cost, although there is the reading opportunity cost to consider (which I don't usually consider.) Fortunately, this risk is mitigated by quickly dropping books I am not enjoying.

Finding the next great book: I have to admit a big part for me is my desire to tell people about some great book they haven't read or even heard of. This requires reading the lesser known and under-praised, and reading a lot of good if not great books. This generates lots of "I could have had a V-8" moments.

Pretty colors: I have a lot of unread books. If I had to guess, the number would in the low hundreds. So when I walk around the house looking at the various unread books, an attractive spine is more likely to catch my eye then a dowdy one.

So with all of that, it is a treat when I read something truly outstanding.

Update: I realized, after I posted, that this sounds whiny. Poor me, lots of books as gifts, wah! Really I was just getting at why does it take so long to read books you know you will like.


Anonymous said...

Tripp - For Christmas, I'm sending over a beatifully decorated book - trust me, it's the greatest undiscovered book ever. Just send it back soon, since I checked it out of the library. I'll call you tomorrow morning to discuss in detail.

Tripp said...

I can't wait! I bet this one takes a few readings to truly digest as well. I better set aside the rest of December.

I should note that gift books are not the best example, as they are quite often the next best book to read. Esp the one you describe, hlk.

Anonymous said...

Wait - I'm trying to figure out if we miscommunicated.