Recently something has been bothering me. No matter how much I reorganise and recategorise my to-read list, or sort the hundreds of books into my Kindle onto more manageable lists, or try to be brutal about sidelining books I probably won't read, or those that look a bit trashy... There's no getting away from the fact that there are more books I want to read in the near future than I can even hope to get through. And the more of an audience I gain as a book blogger, the bigger this problem becomes. Advance review copies, ebooks from NetGalley, and books I've won in Goodreads giveaways pile up with those I've bought, borrowed from the library, been given by someone, acquired in a Kindle sale, or just want to read again because I loved them so much the first time. Altogether, it's becoming a bit of an impenetrable labyrinth which would probably take me a year to read, and that's just what it's like now.
How do I decide which books are worth reading, and which should be read first? My instinct is to read new releases before anybody else does, so if I have an advance copy, I'll usually try and read it before it comes out - although this recent post at Savidge Reads got me thinking about how wise it is to do this. After all, who will really be that interested in a review of something that isn't released for several months, apart from other reviewers? (Here I must admit that my motives for reading books early are purely selfish: I want to be the first to read and the first to review more than I want people to take notice of my reviews.) I also feel duty-bound to read advance copies quickly because, as a book blogger and Goodreads reviewer, I've been granted access to them for a reason. This sometimes leads to me pushing books I'm only half-heartedly interested in to the top of my list. On NetGalley, for example, I only ever request things with the best of intentions, and almost always mean to read anything I'm approved for immediately - but then I get approved for two more, and buy something for my Kindle, and get something else out of the library, and that 'priority' gets pushed further and further down the list until I forget about it altogether.
The other issue here is that once you start getting used to receiving advance copies, it becomes an expectation. I don't mean by this that I think I 'should' be getting them or that I deserve them - but once you know that reading books before they even come out is a possibility, it's difficult to get out of that mindset. Instead of being determined to buy a book on the day of release, you become fixated on getting it at some point - any point - before that day. How early is it possible to get hold of it? How come one of your Goodreads friends is reading it already? This can easily become an obsession, and it's at this point you end up with a blog full of reviews of unreleased books, perhaps the literary equivalent of that fashion blog thing where every item in every post has been 'gifted' by some brand or other.
So far I've read 90 books in 2013, and well over half of those were released this year. I do love getting to new books first, but I can't help but think this obsession is getting in the way of all those other great books I could be discovering. When was the last time I picked up a classic, for example? Or just a book from five or ten years ago?
Pictured above are: Beggar's Feast by Randy Boyagoda (16th January 2014), The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto (28th November 2013), and The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner (12th Septe,ber 2013) - all of which I won in Goodreads giveaways - along with a copy of Neil Spring's The Ghost Hunters, which I picked up at the supermarket with the intention of reading it over Halloween (!) Needless to say, that's just a handful of my to-read pile, with the majority (thankfully for my personal space) residing on my Kindle. My aim for December is to get all my advance copies (including those that are no longer 'advance' because they've been released since I got them) read and out of the way, ideally in some sort of order... A daunting task, as I have loads of the things, but at least December is a month when absolutely no interesting books get published. After that, I'm not sure - I don't want to have to plan out my reading book by book, as part of the pleasure is choosing whatever you happen to feel like reading at any given time - but in 2014 I'm determined to make more of an effort to work through at least some older books I've been meaning to read.
How do you decide what to read next - do you like reading new books before anyone else does? And do you find it interesting to hear about forthcoming books months ahead of their release?
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