Wednesday, 14 July 2004

Decisions, decisions -What to read next?

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...


Erna said...

The Name of the Rose is a bloody good book. Made me want to learn Italian. Plus imagining Sean Connery as the lead helps make it enjoyable too. Hahahaha.

Ya dinna ken what ahm tryin to say?

Anonymous said...

The Name of The Rose is quite good. A bit slow in the beginning but persevere with it and you'll get there. Have you read An Instance of The Fingerpost by Iain Pears Eyeris? That is one excellent book. Couldn't stop reading it; it just sucked you right in.

eyeris said...

Can't say that I have, but I'll make a note of it and pick the book up if I happen to see it. :) thanks!