I've just finished Tom Holt's The Portable Door (which was quite ok, BTW) recently, and am currently faced with a difficult question, one that I always seem to face whenever I finish a book: What do I read next?
Although I AM reading Amy Tan's The Opposite of Fate, it is not exactly the my type of book, being 1) a non-fiction book, and 2) it's a book about Tan's life and musings, which is hardly gripping stuff in the first place. I get very restless reading non-fiction, and there is nothing like a good, made-up fiction book to help me get past my occasional bouts of boredom and inactivity (Read: Too lazy to work).
Anyway, whenever I go to my bookshelf, I am faced with a dilemma. I can't decide what to read next. The problem isn't that I have too few books to choose from, it's that I have too MANY books to choose from - ranging from 12-book fantasy epics to some pulp fiction novels by authors like Sheldon or Archer.
Of course, if I have any new books, or books that I have to review (even if I don't want to read them), then I'd pick those first. But right now, I don't have any. So I'll have to go through the rather difficult task of deciding which of the 200 odd unread books I have sitting on my shelves I want to read most.
One stumbling block I always encounter is that I have too many fantasy series’ that stretch to three books or more, and I start thinking, ‘That’s too long’, and wind up reading The Hobbit for the umpteenth time instead. Other times when I actually FEEL like starting on a series, my collection is either incomplete (strangely, I always seem to be missing either the second or third book in ANY series I buy), or has not even been finished by the author. So I wind up reading LOTR or David Eddings’ Belgariad books again.
It also depends on what kind of mood I am in. Sometimes I think I’d like a nice, light fantasy novel that does require too much thinking, and other times, I prefer something heavier (in content, not weight). One time, I read The Beach (Alex Garland), The Power of One (Bryce Courtney), Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt) and Solaris (Stanislaw Lem) consecutively, because I was in a weird phase of wanting to read slightly more ‘intellectual’ books than I was currently reading at the time (Don’t ask me why).
Anyway, here’s how I usually choose a book:
1) Decide whether I want something heavy or light (in CONTENT! CONTENT!)
2) Depending on what I had just finished, I’d then figure out whether I want to read another fantasy book (which is almost always the case), or try something contemporary.
3) Go through my bookshelves to decide which books I REALLY should get down to reading.
4) Select two or three choices that I feel like reading (and this time, the weight of the book DOES come into play, since I HATE lugging hardcovers around in my bag on the LRT).
5) Just pick one, based on how badly I feel like reading it.
6) If the decision is TOO hard, I choose the book I want to read by throwing all three books into the air towards my bed and reading the one that lands face up. Works like a charm…. most of the time (excluding the odd occasion when I ended up reading a Jane Green ‘chick’ book instead of what I REALLY wanted to read).
Right now, I have yet to choose what book to read next. It’s a toss-up between FINALLY reading Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea series, T.H. White’s The Once and Future King (since the King Arthur movie IS coming out soon, I figured I should brush up on my Arthurian knowledge), and another reread of the Narnia series (After A Hat Full of Sky, I feel like going back to all those children’s fantasy classics). Then there's also that copy of The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco) that I borrowed from a friend er... last year... and keep skipping to read something else. Maybe I should start reading that...
Oh well, time to bring these books to the bed...