Declaring Book List Bankruptcy

As I’ve stated before, this year I’m not doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge. It’s a great idea and a lot of fun, but for me it tends to drive the wrong behaviors. Reading is supposed to be part of my down time, not part of a competition. The space I carve out of my schedule to pick up a book is supposed to be relaxing, not a function of some gamified goal. To further alleviate that pressure, I’m also declaring book list bankruptcy.

Let’s be honest, this is me. I not only have a virtual stack of ebooks waiting to be read, I have lists. There are books on writing and business management that I want to mine for ideas. I have lists of literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and other categories. In the past I have created lists of what books I want to read, in what order and period of time. It’s stressful. The opposite of the function reading is meant to serve for me.

Part of my problem is that I have so many unread books that I don’t know where to start. I feel like I need to choose carefully, because there’s an opportunity cost; choosing to read this book means not reading all of those other books. And those other books might be better, or more interesting, or offer something useful. Reading something new means I’m not revisiting some old favorite that I want to re-read. But re-reading something I already love means not discovering something new. I am overwhelmed by fear of missing out.

I have this dream of retiring someday, and spending my days sitting in a comfy chair next to a cozy fireplace, sipping coffee and doing nothing else but reading books.

So those lists of mine are now deleted. I was in the mood for a fantasy novel, so I looked at several lists (made by other people) of the best fantasy novels of 2017 and picked one that looked interesting. That’s what I’m going to start reading tonight. If it grabs me, awesome. If it doesn’t, I’ll pick something else. When I’m finished I might go looking for more work by the same author, or seek out another fantasy novel, or decide I’m in the mood for something else entirely.

The other thing I’m giving up is reading more than one book at a time. Okay, there’s a caveat to that. I will not be reading more that one book for pleasure at a time, and one book for research and business at a time. So two books, tops. Research and business books are to be read in the kitchen, my workspace. Books for pleasure are to be read in the living room or the bedroom, away from the work space.

That’s the plan. Now we’ll see how will this plays out.

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