So I finished my two un-put-downable books, and now I am in the slightly angsty position of having to choose what to read next. Debby asked me recently how I choose my next book, and I have a few different ways, but I don’t use any one of them consistently, and I often find myself agonizing a bit. The easiest way of selecting my next book is to pick up whatever I need to read for my next book group meeting. In this case, that means I’ll be reading Nam Le’s The Boat, a brand new collection of short stories. I don’t know anything about the book except that it’s gotten some good reviews and that my friends have liked it. I’m excited to be reading some short stories again.
But I will want a novel to read too, I’m suspecting, and so will probably pick up something else as well. If I’m not relying on my book groups to choose my books for me, the task is a little harder. Sometimes I go with an impulse; I’ll just scan my shelves and see what jumps out at me. Sometimes I go with a friend’s recommendation, which is what I did with both Fingersmith and The Silent Woman. Sometimes I’ll have a desire to read a particular genre or from a certain time period, and I’ll see what I have on hand or can find at the library that fits the category. Often I will try to think of what book would be as different as possible from what I just finished to get as much variety as I can.
But still, I rarely find the choice easy. I make too big a deal of it, I know, but it sometimes seems that choosing a book is like making a statement about who I am. If someone comes along and asks me what I’m reading, what will they think of my choice? What will they assume about me?
But enough angst. What shall I read? Perhaps Adeline Mowbray or Shirley if I want to go with an earlier time period. Perhaps Thomas Bernhard’s Frost if I want something edgier. Perhaps Antonia White’s Frost in May if I’m in the mood for a Virago. Perhaps Richard Powers’s The Echo Maker if I want something more contemporary.
Oh dear, maybe I should put the decision off until tomorrow … how do you choose?