Sometimes during reading conferences I ask students “How do you choose your next book? How do you decide what to read?” My goal is to determine – and help them determine for themselves – if they are independent readers, people likely to read outside of the classroom. In my experience, people who identify themselves as readers may not know exactly where they get book ideas from, but they can usually answer “what will you read next?” with some ease. If they can’t, they can pretty much always tell me where they’ll get ideas.
While I occasionally go through dry spells, I rarely lack for ideas for my next book – this month’s Slice of Life Challenge alone has already yielded more titles than I could possibly read – though this impossibility won’t stop me from trying. As to how I decide what to read next, the truth is that my next book is often determined by what has come in at the library where my on hold list and my checked out list are in a constant battle for supremacy; I watch, bemused, from a distance as each list grows and shrinks, occasionally cheering on one book or another. Sometimes I let one go in disgust or despair. One way or another, what comes in is often what I read.
Letting the library decide on my next book has its downsides. For example, before March Break, two books came in from my holds list AND a friend loaned me two books. During March Break, I chose my reading poorly: the first book began so slowly that I took all week to finish it. Then, today, the first day after break, three more books came in. And now, I’m staring down this stack of books:
Which to choose? One came in remarkably early despite a *long* wait list – and I wasn’t near the top, so this is clearly luck. I won’t be able to renew it, so maybe start there? Or maybe start with the one that I checked out first since it’s due first? Or maybe buck the stifling due date system and read the one that is calling my name for no particular reason?
I have a feeling I know where I’ll go – but just in case I change my mind, I’ll probably need to keep these next to my bed. And then, if someone asks what I’m going to read next, I can pretend that I’m just working my way through the stack.
12 thoughts on “Book choice #SOL22 21/31”
hooboy, trying to figure out what next, huh? I have a pretty big stack. For me, the rotation these days looks something like this every five books or so: poetry collection, novel, essay collection, work in translation, reread. I wish I read more PD–maybe over the summer.
Oh, and a shameless plug: Feel free to read along with me & friends at #THEBOOKCHAT! We’re discussing Natalie Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem in late April & Ishiguro’s Klara & the Sun in late may : )
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Oh- duh! I just realized you’re TheBookChat guy. YES! Thanks for the invitation. I’ll pick up Diaz’s book (probably from the library) and add it to the (never-ending) stack. Then, the trick will be remembering to go to the party… I mean chat 🙂
OK, I have a whole bunch of random thoughts, in no particular order, as I read your so well organized and crafted piece (not jealous at all of how easy you make the flow and path of your thinking in your writing).
1. First of all, I love your question you ask your readers. I am in the midst of reading conference questions, and blogged about it (not a shameless promotion, just sharing that we are on the same pathway): https://heidiallum.wordpress.com/2022/03/11/soaking-up-reading-reflections-on-a-students-reading-conference/
So thank you for that question! It’s another great one to add.
2. You are also way smarter as I just buy books. Like constantly. So you are saving money by using your library, and I really should, I just have a problem.
3. I say read whichever one strikes you right now…especially if the last one was slow to get into!
Your blog is a pleasure to read!
Thank you! I’ve just popped over to your blog & now we can have a mutual admiration society. Also, the library is my best friend and saves me loads of money. With two young readers in my house, plus me & my spouse… well, we’d be broke!
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Yes, I need to use the library more. The funny thing is I take my kids almost every other weekend… but I always seem to have a book I have bought on the go, and I am always worried I won’t read it in time!
It’s like you are in my head!!! You take the books out of the library though, I buy them. So, so, so many of them.
The only one in that stack that I have read is The Poppy Wars, and it was a bit slow in places, but I really liked it.
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Hmm… that’s the one that’s got the long wait list. BUT it’s by an Asian author AND it looks cool. Somehow, I really want to read “The Women in Black” even though I don’t know what it’s about or anything. It just looks fun. We shall see. (Also, the library is a miracle for me.)
The library is a miracle for me, too, though rarely do I make the hold-list commitment. Maybe browsing the stacks in order to check out what’s available at that moment is another manifestation of my inner control-freak. I’ve also been known to preview the library’s online catalog, then hustle to a branch to grab an available title I’ve been stalking from a distance. At least once that I can recall, someone nabbed the book before I could get there 🙂 But enough about me; enjoy whatever you pluck from your stack! The only way to go wrong, it seems, is not to have something to read next.
The hold list came about once I had kids. Since I seemed to have completely lost my ability to remember anything, I started putting things on hold, kind of like a to-do list. These days, it’s a fun surprise to see which book has shown up. Now… off to read one of them.
I have this exact same post in my cue! WITH the same picture! (Different books though.) I hate having to return a book to the library without having read it. I feel like I’ve let the book down. I’ve taken to creating a new hold list on my desktop–it’s of the books that came up on my library hold list that I had to return without reading.
I just laughed out loud because I do the same thing for the same reason. Library nerds unite!