I feel completely incapable of making a decision about what novel to read next. I’ve thought about it ever since I finished Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart two days ago, but have come to no conclusions. It’s rare for me not to be in the middle of a novel, and usually I have one lined up to go the minute I finish the previous one. It’s the variety of possibilities that’s paralyzed me. Should I read a classic? If so, from what century? Something obvious like Balzac’s Cousin Bette or a little less so like James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner? Or should I read Virginia Woolf? Or something contemporary? If something contemporary, should it be challenging or comfortingly familiar? By a man or a woman? American or British? Something written in English or translated?

One thing is certain — it’s good that I’ve finished Geoff Dyer’s book Out of Sheer Rage, because as much as I liked the book, his chronic indecision is rubbing off on me, I’m afraid.


Filed under Books, Reading

14 responses to “Indecision

  1. Ha! You clearly need to read someone very decisive now, Dorothy! I’m not sure who on your bookcase fits the bill, but pick a voice whose character and fortitude you admire!


  2. A suggestion: play the next book with a dice?


  3. I usually also have something picked out in my mind, too, but I totally understand when it’s hard to choose! It sounds as though you need something very different than your previous reads! Did you like the Bowen book?


  4. This is definitely the time to go into the nearest bookshop and buy something you hadn’t given any thought to at all.


  5. SFP

    I’m feeling the same indecision. I finished The Birds Fall Down last night and I cannot decide what should be next. I have about ten in mind that I’d like to be reading at the moment, but how to chose? Maybe go with a library book, something with a due date. . .


  6. A few months ago, I found myself in the same situation — a sort of reading paralysis. But, luckily it didn’t last long. When I can’t decide on a book, I’ll gather up four or five that I’m contemplating and ask my husband to choose for me. I don’t always follow his advice, but it usually helps get me started on something else. It reminds me of that commercial in which a woman keeps asking her husband/boyfriend to choose between two things (earrings, shoes, etc.), and she always chooses the opposite of what he suggests.


  7. Oh, yuck. I hate it when this sort of indecision appears because now, what you need, is a REALLY good book or else you’ll be disatisfied and continue on this course. i would choose something that many people I admired raved about, and could be read somewhat quickly. Those are my two criteria for reading indecision…


  8. verbivore

    I hate it when this happens, luckily it is also rare for me. I suggest you take a day or so off from reading (if possible 🙂 and let the next book choose you! These things have a way of working out.


  9. I faced this same mood just a few days ago. For my part I heartily endorse Hogg’s novel! I didn’t know what to expect going in but the contrast between the two part narratives was really something. And it’s such a puzzling book too as you read the “memoir” bit (in a good way). You’ll laugh, you’ll be astonished, horrified, eye some characters cynically…so yes, the Hogg, please. If you like. 😀


  10. I endorse Hogg as well (last time we had dinner together, we were talking about something that made me think of that book, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. Oh well…). However, sometimes, when I’m REALLY having a hard time choosing, I find it’s best to go back and re-read a long-lost love. Perhaps it’s time to do that?


  11. Ooh I hate it when I can’t decide which book next. For me, sometimes the only help for that is to read a magazine.
    And, I haven’t missed your post on the Elizabeth Bowen book have? I really want to hear your thoughts on that one. I’m hoping to read that one soon. It’s high up on my stack.


  12. Well, I still haven’t begun a new book yet, but that’s at least partly because I’ve been busy all day. I’m almost persuaded by those of you recommending Hogg; what I’m thinking is that I should begin TWO novels — this is what any good book blogger would do, right? — one that’s older and one that’s newer. I’m thinking maybe Hogg and McCarthy’s The Road? I’ve been meaning to read that one for a while. Or — maybe something a little more fun. We’ll see. I’m still suffering from indecisiveness, I guess. Thank you all for your suggestions and commiserations! They are much appreciated!

    Oh — and I haven’t written about the Bowen book yet, but I’d like to — perhaps tomorrow when I’ll have more energy (hopefully).


  13. Pick several books that you think you want to read. Spread them out in front of you, mix them up a bit with your eyes closed and then grab one. Whatever you grab will be what you want to read or you will immediately decided that you don’t want to read it and that you want to read X instead.


  14. That’s a good suggestion Stefanie! I think I’ve solved the problem this time around, thank goodness …


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