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.