Reading is something that I do professionally, as a hobby, as a means for social interaction, as a lifelong habit I will never kick. I want to read new books in my field and classics and award-winners and award-contenders, but I also want to read what makes my heart sing. It’s a fine balance that I’m sure many of you lit-folks understand – your reading is a public endeavor, a means to a larger end, but it will still always be a deeply personal, deeply important experience. If it wasn’t, then you wouldn’t read so damn much.
And I saw all of your Goodreads challenge goals yesterday. You guys read too damn much.
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that there are books you have to read, books you think you should read, books that you want to read, and the beauty of this whole reading thing is that at any given time you have the ultimate freedom to choose. Like any other freedom, this is brilliant and exciting and fun, but also sometimes terrifying.
Anyway, what I’m really trying to say is – I am done with my Cybils reading, my library is filling holds once again, it is the new year, and I am assigning far too much metaphysical importance to which books to read next.
I’ve been thinking about Kelly’s post over at Stacked about Reading Resolutions and Reading Challenges and how, at the end of the day, she finds them personally unsatisfying. Although I am not a person who feels stressed out about goals (HAVE MORE OBVIOUS WORDS EVER BEEN SPOKEN), I also shy away from said challenges, maybe for the same reasons. I might love reading from a syllabus – a proscribed list of Must Reads, if you will – but when the syllabus is a list of titles arbitrarily selected by myself or an outside party, I feel itchy.
So where’s the happy medium? I have no idea. It’s probably different for every professional reader. I have friends who read nothing but Should Reads and Must Reads for weeks, then binge on tawdry romances and trendy adult fantasy for a week or so to reset. Some friends set modest genre quotas for the year, read at least an ARC a month, take recommendations from patrons, read the award winners every year – small moves to keep their reading intentional and professional without submitting that personal reading control.
Personally, this year I’d like to strike this balance by seeking more organic reading patterns. Read deeper into a genre that interests me, read a series straight through, read a chunk of award winners, let a topic pull my interest and read more to get a broader understanding.
One of the most satisfying reading experiences I’ve had was from a graduate class a few years back in which we read an author’s body of work straight through, chronologically; by the end of the run, I felt like I had learned so much about an author’s life, her career, her evolving talent and the ever changing landscape of children’s publishing, but it was also intensely intimate, an almost sure-fire way to make you a lifelong fan. The practice really hit that sweet spot between professionally-useful reading and personally-satisfying reading, and that’s what I’m really going for: reading in a way that fans the flames of professional passion.
I’m thinking I will start off 2013 with one of my favorite genres, one that I didn’t pay much mind to in 2012, and mixing in a little re-reading (which I probably love more than reading). Five romances for the new year for me; cheers to you and your reading year and to books that make you love books!
1. Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
3. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
4. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
5. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill