Do you stumble across the books you read, or do you have a reading plan? I have never embarked upon a systematic reading plan, other than required reading lists for courses I was taking.
Among people I know – and the library patrons I meet every day at work – reading plans can be either lofty or low-brow. For example:
- Read the classics
- Read everything by Danielle Steel
- Read everything that’s similar to 50 Shades of Grey
- Read an “intimidating” book like War and Peace
- Read some good new business books
- Read a biography of Winston Churchill
- Read the rest of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books
I read a lot, but even though I’m a librarian, I’ve never deliberately set out to become well-read. My reading history is highly irregular – as I think it should be! But I spent enough time in school (18 years, cough, cough!) to have read or been assigned a wide sweep of literature.
As a bookish kid, I read most of the children’s classics, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Peter Pan. I also read endless series books, comics and MAD magazine. I graduated to teen pop star magazines, novels about teen issues, and Young Adult Literature like The Outsiders and The Pigman (anyone remember those?) I cross-pollinated with sleazy adult bestsellers, and for relief, Agatha Christie. In university I studied Theatre, English, and Russian Literature with all of its associated reading (go, Pushkin!)
My first librarian job was as a children’s librarian, so I read all the new kids’ books and award-winners for many years. After that I read mostly adult novels until my kid was born. I went through a long phase of reading mostly magazines, home decor books, cookbooks and parenting books! Once I was able to sit down and enjoy books again, my tastes had permanently changed, and I now read about 50/50 adult fiction and nonfiction, with a few YA novels thrown in.
As for my own reading plan, I do have a mental list of books I would like to read, mostly classics or significant books I missed. For instance, I have never read a book by Charles Dickens. My parents had a copy of David Copperfield in the house, and I always thought I would read it when I was old enough, but it remains on my to-read list. I have always wanted to read Neuromancer by William Gibson, the first cyberpunk novel. And I really must read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man!
In my goals for 2013, I noted that I wanted to catch up on all of the graphic novels I missed last year. All of my holds from the library are arriving so I will be cocooning with them this weekend!
Here is an example of why my reading plans go awry. I chose 3 novels from my library last week, all “international fiction:”
- 419 – Will Ferguson
- What the Day Owes the Night – Yasmina Khadra
- Saraswati Park – Anjali Joseph
I think they all look fantastic. But I have been busy reading Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and You Can Too, by Beth Terry, so everything else is being neglected.
In the meanwhile, my first 4 graphic novels have come in:
- Baby’s in Black – Arne Bellsdorf
- The Big Kahn – Neil Kleid / Nicolas Cinquegrani
- A Wrinkle in Time – adapted by Hope Larson
- Goliath – Tom Gauld
I would have sent back all of my wonderful novels and dug into the graphic novels instead, but three more books arrived that I had been awaiting for weeks:
- Dearie: the Remarkable Life of Julia Child –Bob Spitz
- Mrs. Queen Takes the Train – William Kuhn
- Telegraph Avenue – Michael Chabon
Oh, the delicious dilemma of what to read!
I just took a break to suspend the rest of the books I have on hold from the library so no more will come in this month! The good part is, of course, that the library owns all the books I listed above, so I can always return them and read them later. But of course I will have discovered a hundred more books by the time they come my way again!
I could always start over and stick to a rigorous reading plan. But realistically, that’s not going to happen. As I mentioned earlier, my idea of a reading plan is to sneak in a Significant Title now and then.
So many books, so little time.
How do you do it?
Related Post: What Kind of Reader Are You?
A few recommended reading lists:
The Top 100 Books of All Time – The Guardian
Top 10 Canadian Books of the Decade – McLean’s
100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know – New York Public Library
Top 10 Graphic Novels – Time