For bookaholics surrounded by piles of books, an Amazon wishlist a mile long and the constant temptation to add just one more book to the list after reading another excellent review in the blogosphere, one of the most difficult decisions we face is what to read next. How can we possibly choose – do we choose the latest instalment of a favourite series or do we choose the classic we’ve had sitting on the shelf for months because it’s been on every Must Read Before You Die list since the dawn of time? Do we want something that makes us laugh or do we want something that gets us pumped to go out there and do battle with whatever forces of evil are threatening the literary world that day?
No bookaholic wants to enter a dreaded reading slump so the decision on what to read next is one which must be dealt with very, very carefully. There are a lot of questions that we must sort through as we navigate the choppy waters, for example…
1. What kind of mood are we in? – If we’ve had a long day at work where there’s been one disaster after another, deadlines are approaching fast and colleagues have been so frustrating that we’re left questioning whether violence is always wrong, do we want something escapist and hopeful like Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan where Issy, recently redundant from a mind-numbingly boring job, tries to turn her love of cupcakes into a career? Or do we want some action where we can vent our frustrations vicariously through characters like Celaena in Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas as she battles other criminals to become the Champion?
2. Have friends recommended any books to us? – Book recommendations from a friend can be tricky. If the recommendation is good, then our friendships can become even stronger as we’re bonded through the shared reading experiences of Harry battling Lord Voldemort or wondering whether Katniss will choose Peeta or Gale (for the record, I’m Team Peeta!) but if the recommendation is really bad then it can have us looking at our friend and wondering if they were dropped on their head as a small child or how well they really know us. The trust between one bookaholic and another can be shaken by such a bad recommendation.
3. Have we recently heard of a good book in a tv show/film/series? – In the Jane Austen Book Club one of the characters reads The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe after it was mentioned in Northanger Abbey and I have to admit to doing the exact same thing. If there’s a character that I like then I seem to think that if they like a book then there’s a good chance that I will too. It’s why I read The Mysteries of Udolpho myself and it’s why during my angst-ridden, feminist, attempt to be a indie-chick in my late teens/early 20’s, I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath after seeing Julia Stile’s character in Ten Things I Hate About You reading it.
4. Where are we going to be reading? – If you’re trying to choose a book for a beach holiday or relaxing in a quiet, countryside getaway then you’re probably not going to want to take something like Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally. Reading about a German industrialist risking his lives to save the Jews who worked for him during WW2 might not be entirely appropriate while you’re lying on a sun lounger sipping a mojito. If you’re commuting to work, do you want something epic that you can get lost in and forget you’re going to work, like Game of Thrones by George R R Martin or do you want something that you can dip and in out of easily like the hilarious Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)? Also, for non e-readers, if you’re going to be travelling while you read, do you have to consider how embarrassing looking the cover of your book is?
These are only a small sample of the endless questions that go round and round in the mind of a bookaholic before finally choosing what to read next. And in the end you might actually choose to ignore all of your questions and their answers, and just go for the book that has the coolest/prettiest cover! Sometimes it’s okay to just be shallow for a bit! 🙂
What about you? How do you choose what to read next?