Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What's your book selection strategy?

The more blogs I come across, the more I enjoy hearing about how people choose which books to read.  The quote "nobody promises you tomorrow" was passed on by a virtual friend of mine, and has completely stuck in my head.  Let's face it - not very many people read (or do anything) as if it was the last thing they will ever do.  Morbid?  Perhaps, but I think it teaches us that living in the moment is more important than anything else [provided you don't have to worry about physiological or other basic needs - thanks Maslow].

The hardest thing with running a book club is what books you will read and in what order.  I use a democratic selection process, where people vote first if they want to read the work or not and second, they rank the top five.  Based on that, the cream floats to the top, the water falls to the bottom and then there is a hybrid of things in between.  We usually revisit the list periodically depending on when the cream runs out and we start to get into the middle works.  While this process continues to be refined [there are many criteria which I have removed for the sake of not running onto a tangent], it seems to work as of now.

The question that has been plaguing me (and really, this is too strong a word for such a thought), is what do I read in between our monthly selections?  Along with the one book a month I read, I can usually make it to about 8 more... and I have a tough time making a judgement call on what comes next.  I'd like to see what the blogging community would choose, if they were me.  Keep in mind that I generally prefer classics, but we read only shorter (less than 500 page) classics and have a wide range of author choices (but not more than two works from each).

So here is what I am contemplating:
1. Do I read the book I feel most passionate first in case I get hit by a bus tomorrow?
2. Do I read longer novels since I will not get to them in the book club?  Keep in mind that this limits how many books I can read and I may lose continuity if each book takes me 3 months or so (yes, I'm a slow reader).
3. Do I read books that the the book club votes down since there will be no chance for a live discussion?
4. Do I read modern books and/or non-fiction instead of classic fiction?
5. Do I try to make my way through the modern library list from 1 to 100?  100 to 1?
6. Do I go the route of a true bibliophile and read everything by one author before moving on to the next?
7. Do I just read whatever speaks to me at the time? [my current ad-hoc methodology]

What would you do?


Red said...

I read whatever speaks to me at that moment. I feel too pressured if I have a list I think I must adhere to. And I need to be in a certain mood to read certain books. Some books I may hate if I read them when it's not the right time, but will love when I'm in the right frame of mind.

Plus what better way to live in the moment than to read whatever it is that speaks to you right then?

Ordinary Reader said...

I just realized I have no idea how I choose the books I read. I always read my book club's selection, but other than that I must just pick whatever strikes me at the moment. I have a couple of series I space out over time, like the Amelia Peabody books. I don't want to read them all at once but I also don't want them so far apart that I forget the gist of the stories. I'm reading 13 books for a Canadian challenge as well and I'm spacing those out over the year. Then there's my guilt list of books that I feel ashamed of myself for never having read, or for having read them and forgotten everything about them. Right now I'm reading a book from that list, so next I will probably choose something more modern. I guess that's what I usually do, choose something different in style or era than what I've just finished.
That was a very good question for a post!

Toni Wi said...

Read something that excites you... I guess thats a variation on number one?