I have a problem. I have been trying to push it down, but it keeps fighting its way up to the forefront of my thoughts. I have too many books to read. Not as in I own them, but they are on my reading list, waiting for me to discover them, befriend them and love (or on the rare occasion get upset with) them. Hello, my name is Michael, and I am a bookaholic. Right now my reading list has 1196 books on it. No, I am not kidding. And this does not include the books I know about that are forthcoming or books I have yet to hear about! It does not include any subscriptions, magazines, other blogs, or news articles either. Just good, old fashioned books of all types. (Sadly, I read very slowly. The upside is that I do not need to re-read, and retain everything, even in a complicated 600-page novel, but I am in the bottom 16% of the population in terms of words per minute. Yep, I tested my reading speed haha.)
I have a goal of reading fifty pages a day from my reading list, which means that I can finish a little over two books per week on average. Of course, I add at least four or five books to my reading list every week, so this is not helping. I am busy, like every other person I know. I am not independently wealthy, which means I work forty to fifty hour weeks, as does my husband. Handling our house and finances are a fulltime job (at least it feels that way sometimes) and that job is also mine. Any long-term planning that needs to be done (trips, conferences, long-term goals, kids) – that would be me. My husband is seriously allergic to making such plans, see my previous blog Opposites Attract: The Story Of A Happy Marriage. And finally I have to balance a medical schedule of appointments, treatments and making sure I am doing what I need to do to stay physically well. I also must confess, this tends to come last for me. Deadlines matter more to me than getting a full night’s sleep. I now strive for a solid seven hours a day, much better from my previous five hours…
If I look at my list as it is now, it will take me roughly eleven years to get through, not taking into account any books I add to my list, which I can guarantee I will do by tomorrow. My friend Krystin joked with me about being in the right line of work (she has her Masters of Library and Information Science). But of course I am. I am a writer and part of the requirement of being a writer is to love to read. I have a passion for books and I have had that passion since I can remember, just like I have with writing. I firmly believe that the more a writer reads the better writing they will produce. I don’t read to be a better writer, though that is a fortunate bonus because sometimes I feel like I need all of the help I can get!
I read for so many reasons, I cannot limit it to one. I read to escape, to be transported to other worlds, both realistic and fantastic. I read for pleasure, entertainment and to try to quench by undeniable thirst to know everything. (How else can I claim know-it-all status?) I read for comfort, affirmation, encouragement, support, coping, joy, fun, excitement and intrigue. I read because I cannot imagine not reading. I read because most of the time I am doing something else, I wish I were reading instead. I love to read. Try to get between me and my books and we’re going to have a problem. Luckily, (for him) my husband knows better.
Of course, I know that I don’t just read for all of the reasons I have listed. At least subconsciously, I am taking an inventory of technique, word choice, what works and what doesn’t (and why), style, pacing, characters and dialogue, setting, imagery, weaknesses, inconsistencies and the author’s (not the narrator’s) voice. This inspires me, not with book ideas (like my reading list, I have far too many already) but with things to try. I love experimentation.
As an undergraduate I read Pam Houston’s “Cowboys Are My Weakness” and she used second person in one of the stories. I was fascinated and wanted to try it. The story was many firsts for me. It was my first time playing around with second person (and my only to date in terms of prose, poetry is another story) and it was also the first time my main protagonist was so incredibly different from me. Every character I write has a little bit of me in them, aspects, personality traits or personal history. This character did not. The only thing we shared was a longing for connection, though his longing was completely subconscious and I was too reflective to be unaware of my own. He came across as an egotistical, sex-crazed, crude man, when in fact it was bravado for being deeply insecure and lonely. Using the second person made it fun, but also tricky to show what was underneath when he was unaware of it himself. It is one of my favorite short stories to date (and what I read for my senior reading after three mentors insisted). It was also the first time I wrote I would consider graphic sex scenes (not gratuitous ), which left me feeling exposed.
Another short story in the same collection of stories was witnessing a horrific event through five different points of view (POV). Of course, when you begin you have no idea what has happened. Each POV gets a little closer in living the end and after the final POV is shared, the story cuts to a loved one watching the news and seeing the story of those five souls’ fates. I loved the challenge of telling the same story five different times, and while actions and dialogue needed to be identical, each POV needed to be its own piece of the larger puzzle, its own story and voice. I was inspired by the movie Crash (though why the movie sparked this I have no idea). Movies and television affect me the same way books do in terms of the subconscious workings of my writing mind, but nothing will ever top reading.
Reading, like writing, is something that I can’t ‘not do’. I wouldn’t know how or where to begin and quite frankly, why think about something that just isn’t possible? So, I will go on reading as much as I can and know that there is always going to be another book for me to read. Just like I cannot possibly write every book I envision (not enough time in this lifetime!) I know that the same will go for my never-ending reading list. I will carry on avoiding bookstores or libraries unless I have at least thirty minutes to spend exploring and my office will have piles of books on the floor (and everywhere) simply because I have run out of shelf and cupboard space. My voracious appetite for the written word will always win, and I am okay with that.
For kicks, here are my most immediate ‘to read’ books. I try to keep it balanced between fiction and nonfiction. My top must-reads may change when I move onto the next book, but most of the titles are devoured before moving further down my list. I have omitted by guilty pleasure reads because those are a blog of their own!
“The Daylight Gate” by Jeanette Winterson (Currently Reading)
Fiction, a find from People Magazine’s book review section. This was off to a rough start, but around page 50 things are moving a little faster. This is the author’s creative take on the Pendle Witch Trials in England (1612). I appreciate the author’s (obvious) historical research as these were actual events.
“Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2013” by Jeff Herman (Currently Reading)
Nonfiction, publishing. I was referred by a previous book I read about the publishing process. I have read so many books on publishing, query letters, and agents this-and-that, but this book is fantastic. While it won’t help you prepare the perfect query letter or write a book proposal this is a must for anyone currently seeking representation. It has extras in its agent profiles so you get to know the agents, their likes and dislikes, personalities and what they specifically look for themselves.
“The 9th Girl” by Tami Hoag
Fiction, a library find. This is the book I wish I was reading now! I don’t know why, but when I read the book jacket I just felt the need to read this and it moved to the top of my list (and that is rare). The book centers around the suspected ninth victim of a transient serial killer and the truth about her death. Was she really the serial killer’s victim or were her demons closer to home? I can’t wait! (This will also be the first book I read by this author and I have a feeling, her entire bibliography is going to end up as new additions on my reading list!)
“Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own” by Doreen Orion
Nonfiction, memoir, referred by a book I read about book proposals and queries. The memoir sounds hysterical and is a happily married couple who are complete opposites going on the road, much to the author’s initial dismay. It helps that they are both successful shrinks well aware of their dysfunction. Unfortunately, I am probably going to have to break down and buy this book. I can’t find any libraries that carry it. (I am all about supporting authors and have the personal library to prove it, but I typically read the book first and limit my purchases to my favorites. If I had all the money in the world, I wouldn’t hold out, but I would also blow millions on books!)
“The Dinosaur Feather” by S.J. Gazan
Fiction, another People find. A crime novel that is heavy on scientific research (a tad nervous about that, but that fact that it centers on dinosaurs should mean I’ll be all right) with a strong female lead (a weakness of mine – it is just easier for me to get into a woman’s head).
“Born On A Rotten Day” by Hazel Dixon-Cooper
Nonfiction, astrology. This is another book I was referred to by a book on queries and book proposals that I am probably going to need to break down and buy for the same reason as “Queen of the Road”. I am not into astrology, it is fun, but I see it for entertainment value only (as does my husband) but this book is different. Hysterical, dark and blunt (my kind of book!) it talks about the faults and neuroses of each sign, focusing on what people never hear and for good reason!
Do you have a book you think I should read? I would love to hear what others are currently reading and anything to add to my list, because I am a glutton for punishment. Let me know in the comments section!
Now will you please excuse me? I have some reading to do.
I honestly feel your pain. I’m on the other side though, I can’t help it, I buy the books. Anything on my reading list, I buy it. And then it sits on the shelf and watches me as I read something else and it wonders why I haven’t gotten around to it…..
I think It’s difficult to suggest books for others to read and I’m just likely to suggest Historical Fiction because that’s what I really love. A book is such a personal thing but if I think of something I think you’ll really love, I’ll comment again.
I completely understand the accusing eyes or books waiting to be read at home. I used to purchase every book I wanted to read, but soon realized my life would end up as one of those cautionary tales if I didn’t learn to trade books with others or borrow from libraries like I did as a kid. I have hundreds of books (that I own) sitting in my office, not forgotten (of they account for about 30% of my reading list) but I just haven’t had the time and other books keep taking priority over them.
Even though I don’t buy books until I am sure anymore, books are all that I ask for when it comes to birthdays or the holidays. I find it funny that my mother-in-law thinks I am hard to shop for when I have given her a list of fifty books to choose from, all different genres, some current and some out-of-print. Books are treasures to me and I have a love affair with each and every one. Thanks for the comment and be sure to check back – this is just the beginning of a regular reading column for me. I am suddenly inspired to share my love of books until people are tired of hearing about it.
I look forward to seeing more from you!
I also love to read, and although I have not been tested since my first grade reading teacher, I know I read really slow. My saving grace has been the invention of the audiobook. I listen to books while I work, while I exercise, and sometimes even when I am driving. I love the freedom it gives me to do other things while I listen. Of course, it is difficult to fall deeply into the story while I am doing other things, but the alternative is to try to read on my own from a book and not get very far because of my reading speed. Sometimes, with books I do own, I listen to the audio version while I follow along in the book itself. I am not sure this helps me read any faster, but it does help me remember what I am reading/listening to.
My reading list is very long as well, not 4 digits long, but long enough. Mystery novels are my thing, like Harlen Coben, Dean Koontz, and Clive Cussler. They all have elements of suspense as well, which I love.
Enjoy pecking away at your list and I look forward to reading more of your posts, as slowly as that will be for me. 🙂 LOL
I wonder how I would do with an audiobook if my hearing wasn’t so blah. I also multitask when I read certain things though, usually exercising or walking (I like to do at least 10,000 steps per day). I think even if my hearing was great, I would still be bound to a hard copy. My husband lives for e-Books, but I do not. There is nothing like the feeling of turning a page, the smell of a new book and what it feels like to hold it (excuse me why I drift off to my happy place for a moment… and I’m back).
I read very slow as well, but I retain a great deal of what I read where I don’t need to flip back or forget things, and it also means I pick up on more as I read. I wonder if this is your experience as well? I love mysteries (thrillers are a favorite), but almost always figure them out early on because of this (but it doesn’t spoil the ride, since I don’t know that I am right until the end haha). A Koontz fan… have you read “Innocence” yet? ‘Tis another People find of mine and is on my list. If you have (or do before I get to it) let me know how you like it!
I appreciate the comments and welcome any others. At my husband’s suggestion (I do give him credit when it is due… maybe) I have decided to make ‘Confessions of a Bookaholic’ a regular posting at least twice every month. As soon as he said it, I was overwhelmed with inspiration and a large list of books to cover.
The two guaranteed posts will cover five works of fiction and the other five works of nonfiction. I am sure that there will be additional posts here and there covering everything from my guilty pleasure reads to more posts about reading in general or the relationship between reading and writing. I’m excited! Look for April’s lists at the end of this month (ideally) or the beginning of April. I will post March’s list sometime this week, but they will likely be shorter because of my late start. I hope everyone has enjoyed this post and makes sure to tune in for future confessions from this bookaholic!
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