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Sometimes I have trouble balancing what I read…

I feel like I am constantly battling with myself over what I’m reading.  I started thinking about this because of everyone’s fancy “Best of 2009” lists, and how full they are of bright and shiny new books. 

I love to read lit that’s brand new.  It feels exciting to watch all of this happening first-hand, and it’s usually the stuff that gets my rocks off the hardest. 

BUT: I also have these books that have been sitting on my shelf from years ago that I haven’t gotten around to.  Or there are classics that I really want to read.  Or there are nonfiction books that I want to immerse myself in, in the hopes of learning something about the world and then maybe using some of that knowledge in my writing or, heavens, my life.

I want to ask a question, but I might not be sure what it is.  I guess: How do you balance your reading out?

4 thoughts on “Sometimes I have trouble balancing what I read…

  1. i let my mood dictate what i read. i stare at my overflowing “to-read” shelf until something jumps out and grabs me by the collar. i probably read more “old” books than new in any given year. it’s probably 70-30 or so. just enough so i can make annoying lists, right?

  2. A friend of mine (Gabe Boyer, over at Mutable Sound) is currently reading one book per decade, starting with the early 1900s. Or maybe it’s two books per decade.

    That sounds like a good idea to me. You can work forward or backward. When you get to the end (whatever that is), repeat. If you don’t like a decade (for whatever reason), skip it.


  3. I’m usually reading a non-fiction book “in the background” with my fiction reading. I find my fiction reading goes in spurts — I just read a few classics (Evelyn Waugh, Colette) that were great so that’s gotten me on a kick of older books. I also like mysteries, sci-fi, graphic novels, and some fantasy, so it does get tough to follow… My husband mostly re-reads books, which I find kind of crazy! Now I read lighter fare on the Kindle or my iPhone kindle app (never thought I would read books on my phone, but it turns out I will read books anywhere possible). I guess my answer to the balance question is to read a few things simultaneously.

  4. I’m 100% with you on this dilemma.

    I also find I’m reluctant to devote myself to books I know may take a couple months because of the stack of contemporary stuff I’m trying to stay on top of.

    At one point I had this grand plan to constantly simultaneously read one classic novel and one contemporary story collection and one nonfiction book (on the elliptical) and that grand plan lasted all of two months and the nonfiction part of it never got off the ground because I stopped going to the gym.

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