Saturday, January 28, 2012

How Do You Choose What to Read?

I have been visiting a few more blogs than usual this month and I have begun to wonder, how do you choose what you read?

I have two books a month I have to read. And have to is pretty strong. The first is my book club book. I know quite a few people who go to book club just for the social part. But if I have joined a group then I feel I need to do my duty. I haven't loved any of the books that we have shared, but I have liked a few and would have never chosen them on my own. I have also met some women who I like. As I am becoming more introverted as I age, it is always a good thing to meet people you like.

The second book I feel I have to read is my personal challenge book. And if you know me, my personal challenge, while phrased as a challenge, is really more of a loose goal. I set out to read 12 major classics last year. I didn't finish 12, but I read four. Then I moved and then other books caught my eye. But those four were worth it.

I came across a website earlier today with a very well defined list of 52 (very challenging) books the author will read this year that fit into 24 challenges and projects. I asked the question in the comments and I will ask it here. And while sometimes my questions come across as critical this really was just a question. I really am curious.

How do you choose what you read?

Do you plan?

And if you plan, do you make any allowances for the book that you didn't plan to read but that sneaks up on you. You know, the one you walk past at the bookstore with the appealing cover or the book that your brother (or sister or best friend) mails to you with a note that says, “You have to read this!” What do you do with spontaneous books? The ones that might, just might, surprise you.

I admit it. I plan a lot of my life. When we went to DisneyWorld I had a day by day plan of everything we wanted to accomplish including where to eat and what rides to ride. We followed the plan. We did not miss a thing. We had the time of our lives. I would do it that way again.

I have just about every weekend from now until September planned. I don't want to miss a great event or outdoor opportunity.

I know plans change. Ours often do.

But I don't plan what to read. I give myself a challenge a year and then I wing it. I do have a TBR pile, but it is really more just a list of books I will get to some day.

Because of winging it, I just finished Watership Down which has moved to the very top of my "Books I Love" list. My son had recommended it to me. My brother had recommended it to me. So when I had some free time and no books from my hold list at the library available and no new books from Amazon, I read it. Oh what I would have missed if I hadn't. I would have missed chapter 17. To have gone my whole life with reading that chapter would have been a tragedy.

Winging it also means feeling free to put down that truly awful book ... good-bye The Help! Because there are too many good book out there to waste time with bad books.

So how do you chose what to read?
How do you feel if you don't meet your own expectations?
Do you accomplish you goals?
Wht about that "spontaneous" book?

P.S. If you have a list and Mrs. Dalloway is on it, be warned. I am a pretty fast reader and that book took me almost a month. It was worth it, so stay with it.


Keith said...

This is my third year doing the challenge. I succeeded the first year, but I only made 19 books last year. I write reviews for all of them, and you can find links on the challenge site.

How do I choose my books? I don't really do much planning. I just read whatever strikes my fancy. Fiction, non-fiction, modern, classic, comedy, tragedy, etc., etc. Sometimes I get recommendations from friends, sometimes I just stumble on the books at the library or the bookstore, or I hear a piece with the author on NPR. I guess I would have to say that there is a fair amount of spontaneity in my book selection process.

I'm trying to check out other reader blogs and see what they are doing, so I plan on dropping back by. Feel free to stop on by my blog as well and leave any comments or suggestions.

Girl Detective said...

I'm in three book groups, which limits my free choice, though I have varying levels of input in all 3. If they picked a book I hated (which has happened: An Equal Music by Vikram Seth, most recently) I'll usually give it my best, as a way to get out of my comfort zone. I read a great bio of Genghis Khan last year that I would have never picked up on my own. But when one of the other group reads a book I'm not thrilled about, or that I've already read and didn't like (The Help, Room, The Shadow of the Wind) I just skip it. My third book group is tricky: I run it, and I pick the books, so if I pick a dud I'm stuck. That's why I have a tentative list for the year, but only confirm 2 to 4 in advance. Also, I try to read as much as I can. My house is dirty, my mending undone. But the more books I read, the more books I can read, and the more room there is on my dance card for new books or shelf sitters.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I do plan.... with the Monday what are you reading meme it causes me to go to the shelves and pick a few.

Its not a strict list... I can change it up and do :)