Booking Through Thursday: Book Gluttony

May 14, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 7 Comments

Here is my response to this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

Book Gluttony!  Are your eyes bigger than your book belly?  Do you have a habit of buying up books far quicker than you could possibly read them?  Have you had to curb your book buying habits until you can catch up with yourself?  Or are you a controlled buyer, only purchasing books when you have run out of things to read?

Hahahaha!  I am having trouble imagining anyone answering no to this question.  The only reader I know who does not hoard books is my man Rocket Scientist.  He will literally buy a new book, take it home, sit down, and start reading it right away.  Then he will finish it before he starts something else.  Amazing.

My biggest problem with book gluttony is the library.  I can walk in and take home as many books as I can carry, free of charge.  This is part of why I’ve tried to limit myself only to new titles I’ve put on hold.  Typically they come in at a manageable rate, especially now that I can only hold 20 at a time.  Ah, but, we can only check out 30.  I found that out the hard way, shortly after I moved here.  Right now I’m at 27 again and not sure entirely how that happened.

The next problem is lent books.  I always say ‘lent’ because people bring me their books when they think I will be interested in them.  I always feel obligated to give them a shot, especially considering I go through 9 or 10 a week.  (I have begged ARCs from Trish before when I just couldn’t wait to get them from the library, though oddly enough, I never seem to get around to them).  These books have a tendency to pile up, because they don’t have a “due date” the way library books do.

I will buy books that I can’t get any other way, but again, once I have them in hand, the pressure to read them disappears.  Heck, I can read that book any time, so even though I was desperate to read it when I found it, why not just let it marinate for a few years?  Part of the problem here is that I loathe paperbacks.  The other is the “due date” thing.

I’ve gotten much better about this over the last couple of years, particularly since I started tracking my reading.  I have actual metrics on how much I can realistically read in a given period, plus a long list of books I want to read before I die.  In theory I can tell you how many books I will be able to read if I live to be 75, my family’s minimum lifespan, and in that case, I should also know what many of those books will be.  So, okay, maybe I’d like to read Principia Mathematica, but realistically, I’m not going to.  It would displace something else.

All my books are currently packed in 10 identical Avon boxes.  I left out a good-sized stack of ‘lent’ books and second-hand books that are intended to circulate through our book group.  Other than those and the library books, I can tell you definitively that I’ve hoarded a three months’ supply.  Why don’t I just take three months off from the library and read them, then?  This is a question RS is bound to ask now that we’re getting married, and I’m really racking my brain to come up with an answer.

Um, because?

Pulitzer Problems

May 14, 2009 at 9:17 am | Posted in Book Blather, Challenges | 6 Comments

Reading all the Pulitzer Prize winners for fiction has been a long-time goal of mine.  I decided I’d do it this year, figuring I only had 67 left to read.  It should be a cinch.  Well, if you have a similar goal, let me tell you that it’s more complicated than it looks at first.  That’s why I’ve only read four in five months.

The biggest issue is pure size.  Many of these books are quite large – for instance, The Executioner’s Song is a thousand-pager.  Of the 63 remaining on my list, the average page count is 411.  With nearly 26,000 pages to go, I’ll have to read 812 pages a week.

The next issue is availability, for various reasons.  Some titles have fallen out of favor and are hard to come by – there are at least four that aren’t available at my library.  The other problem is that reading the Pulitzers is a fairly common literary challenge, so there’s competition.  Many of these books are represented by only one volume in my library system, most at far-flung branches around the county.

The upshot is that I’m going to have to revise my intention of reading through the Pulitzers in chronological order.  Right now it’s just taking too long to get the books.  It looks like I’m going to have to read The Able McLaughlins in e-book format.  It’s okay, though – most of the ones I’ve already read are pretty randomly distributed through the list.  I’ll just cherry-pick a little and work on both the older and the newer ends of the stack.

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