Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Sunday Salon - Reading In Order: A Personal Challenge

I've long been perplexed and slightly overwhelmed by my hulking "to be read" or TBR pile. I have hundreds of books in my house that remain unread after years on my shelves, and while they still look tantalizing, it seems like I'm constantly looking over them in favor of other things. After I finished Julie and Julia the other day, I started thinking that I sort of wish my bookish (and life and work and romance, etc.) blog had a theme of some variety. Some goal or general purpose.

As I was lying in bed staring at my TBR and my library books and my review books I thought to myself, "Why don't I just read them in order?"

Hmmm. There's a thought.

I have my books alphabetized and categorized by genre. The general fiction is the one that gets passed up most often lately, so I've set a new personal challenge for myself. I plan to read through my books in order, alpha by author, beginning at the end of the alphabet and working my way toward the beginning. That means I'll be starting somewhere around Jane Yolen and working up to Jane Austen.

As you all know, I refer to myself as "the finicky reader" because my reading moods often dictate what I choose. Therefore, I probably need to give myself some leeway in this little project of mine to avoid burnout. The fine print:

  • I will allow myself to drop books if they're not kicking up my skirt, but I will progress to the next book in line by author name.
  • I will allow myself to veer off track when a review book or library hold comes calling or when I feel an overwhelming urge for a non-fiction break.
  • I will include all genres of fiction: general/literary fiction, children's and adolescent, and graphic novels.

I don't undertake this challenge to limit myself in a bad or unpleasant way. In fact, I feel that having some sort of structure in the way that I attack the books I already own will push me to read some new titles and a larger variety than I have before. Oftentimes I have a hard time choosing my next read because three or four or five books are calling to me, but if I'm urged to take them one at a time, I think my "wandering eye" might be assuaged a bit.

I'm right smack dab in the middle of The Hunger Games, and I'm going to try to finish Jose Saramago's Death With Interruptions by the time it's due back at the library, but after those two are finished I'll be diving into my first "Reading In Order" book and whatever needs to be reviewed next.

I did take a quick glance at the shelves this morning, and I think the first book to begin this personal challenge really is Jane Yolen's Briar Rose. I'll check again later, but I'm almost certain that's the one. Incidentally, it's been sitting on my shelves for several years, it looks great, but it always gets passed over. No longer! Watch out, Jane Yolen, here I come!

If anyone else cares to join me in this personal challenge--if you're as nutball crazy as me--let me know. I might even make a button for it!

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