Saturday, January 31, 2009

Isn't this beautiful?

Some would call this a stack of books. It's really a queue. New books go in at the bottom, and they're read from the top. I've learned that when you tend to have 20 unread books lying around at any time, you need to organize your reading.

I used to follow the "just put them wherever and pick them up from wherever" system, but it was too stressful. I'd begin on one book, but then a more interesting book would arrive in the mail, and I'd begin on that one too, meaning to go back to the first one later. But then a third book would arrive, and so on. So I ended up with a lot of half-read books that I meant to finish some day, and really felt I ought to. Reading stopped being fun.

The queue solved everything. I either finish the book at the top, or give it up, and put it away for good. I might put it back in the queue later, but I don't keep half-read books lying around. One book at a time. Finish it or stop. Goto next.

I try not to reorganize the queue, but I do make exceptions. Right now, the bottom of the queue is a bit heavy on fantasy, quite by accident. I'll probably thin it out with a different kind of book, to create variety. The point is to make it fun.

What, you don't have fun when you're reading? Well there's your problem right there.

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At 01 February, 2009 00:38 , Anonymous Tormod Landet said...

I've enjoyed your blog, and can see that you are in for some treats in your stack, but perhaps also some disappointments. Enjoy Before They Are Hanged on it's own as the series really degrades into epic fantasy in the final book, just as you predicted.

You have quite some variety in what you read, and I have found some books I might pick up myself. What is a better gift than a good recommendation? Time has become too precious to fumble in the blind when it comes to books.

At 01 February, 2009 08:18 , Blogger Bjørn Stærk said...

"but perhaps also some disappointments"

Yes, and that's as it should be. I get worried when I only read books I like, maybe I'm not exploring enough? So I try to pick up a few books almost at random. Last year I bought a grab bag from Subterranean Press, meaning _they_ got to choose the books. I liked almost none of them. But there was one short story that stood out, and so I discovered Patrick Rothfuss.

"Time has become too precious to fumble in the blind when it comes to books"

Fumble is okay, I think, but you have to be brave enough to put the book down when you don't like it. The way this often works is that somebody hears about a Classic, so they begin to read it, but they can't really get into it, and it goes very slow, but they read on out of duty to Great Literature. Much better to pick something up quickly, and put it away quickly if it doesn't interest.

Btw, the recommendations I always follow are from interviews with writers I like, when they're asked about unjustly forgotten authors. Those recommendations are gold.

At 04 February, 2009 11:31 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you haven't read a Game of Thrones ages ago. I think fantasy is the worst genre of literature. Anything seems to get published. Utterly talentless writers like Jordan are revered, mediocre writers like Tolkien are deified, in short, the critical faculties of the fan base are just not there. That's probably an age-related thing:). When you read Martin you will realize this. Not because he's bad, but because he will highlight the shortcomings of his colleagues.
HBO are doing a pilot of this series, by the way. I pray it will get picked up!

At 04 February, 2009 18:28 , Blogger Bjørn Stærk said...

"I'm surprised you haven't read a Game of Thrones ages ago."

I don't read books because they're obligatory classics. There are so many, I wouldn't have time for exploration.

I agree with you about fantasy. That's why I've read so little of it until recently, because I OD'd on Jordan etc. some years ago. Have you read Michael Moorcock's Wizardry and Wild Romance? I like Tolkien, but that might just be nostalgia, and in any case I respect Moorcock's criticism of it.

At 06 February, 2009 16:41 , Blogger Torvald said...

I'm mr. Anonymous above. Hadn't heard of or read Moorcock, but I found the article 'Epic Pooh'. Made me chuckle a bit:) I might have to sample some of his own attempts at fantasy... Thanks for the tip.

At 06 February, 2009 18:57 , Blogger Bjørn Stærk said...

Moorcock is most famous for the Elric novels, which I haven't read. I have read (and liked) the Corum series. But after you've sampled Moorcock as a fantasy author, you must not fail to try his historical novels about Colonel Pyat, beginning with Byzantium Endures.

Also, Wizardry and Wild Romance (which is where Epic Pooh is from) is a good source of fantasy recommendations.


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