The Eternal Question: What to Read?

From “The tyranny of cultural choice is making my brain gasp” by Dorian Lynskey at The Guardian, which I got to via this article (which I didn’t like as well as the one it linked to) at Arts and Letters Daily

It reminds me how much I hate those litanies of things to read, see, hear or experience before you die, and the way they turn entertainment into an impossibly epic assignment to be completed before the ultimate, non-negotiable deadline, as if you will be on your deathbed guiltily confessing to your grandchildren that you never got around to watching the Three Colours trilogy even though you somehow found time for all six seasons of Lost. I find the beat-the-reaper concept irrational and self-defeating, not because I feel above it all but because it highlights how irrational and self-defeating my own attitude to cultural consumption has become.

I’m in three book groups, one of which I moderate. I’m enmeshed in the geekery of this months Tournament of Books. I’m in a Dickens readalong. So when my husband hands me a book and says, I think you’d enjoy this,” I feel guilty. I love books. Reading books. Talking about books. But there’s some tipping point where it turns into obligation. When was the last time I picked up a book just ’cause I wanted to? Let me see…

November 26. Victor LaValle’s Devil in Silver. Just because I wanted to. And I enjoyed the heck out of it. But since then, it’s been all book groups and ToB books, except for graphic novels.

And that’s one reason I love graphic novels–they don’t take as long to read. The pleasure to time factor is bigger than with a “regular” book. So I got to read Finder Library 2, Fairest, Wonder Woman: Blood, Fables: Cubs in Toyland, Drama, and Revival in the same amount of time. I enjoyed most of them.

I know I’ve written about the Tyranny of the TBR pile more than once. But how to buck it? Still haven’t figured that one out. Bet you guys haven’t either.

3 Responses to “The Eternal Question: What to Read?”

  1. Amy Says:

    I totally get it. But hey, Dickens is almost done, just two more weeks. The ToB is in progress. Then things will slow down. Right? Right???

  2. girldetective Says:

    I am dorkily trying to handicap which books to read for the ToB that I haven’t yet. There are six more I’m interested to read: Billy Lynn, May We Be Forgiven, Bring Up the Bodies, Gone Girl, Dear Life and Beautiful Ruins. Which order, given I am in possession of GG and MWBF but not the others?

    I’m skipping Building Stories (don’t like Ware), How Should a Person Be and Ivyland (don’t care), Yellow Birds and Fobbit, which got eliminated.

    Settling down? Ha.

  3. Amy Says:

    My gamble comes with HHhH. I am now #2 on the library queue. I’m not interested in Ivyland either, but downloaded Billy Lynn on my Kindle. I’ll give that one a shot.