The downside of buying all those books is that I never get to a "read them all" point. And picking the next book to read is becoming more of a challenge - after all, there are so many good ones, how can I possibly choose?
I've come to the realization that I'm not picking the books. They're picking me. Okay, okay … it's not as crazy as it sounds (well maybe a little).
I usually have an idea of what book I'd like to read next. For example, if I'm just starting out on a new WIP (or Work in Progress for the non-writerly friends) then I'll pick an author with a similar style for inspiration. When I'm in the middle and end of the WIP I tend to read something totally different.
But I still have to narrow it down to ONE book (I'm not a multiple book kinda gal). I'll read the back cover, grab a recommended author or someone I've really enjoyed in the past. Then plunk down and start reading. Only to put it down after a few pages and go back to the shelf. Read the back cover, grab a recommended author, plunk down and start reading. Lather, rinse, repeat. And suddenly I have five books next to me that I've started and discarded.
I'll stare at the shelves. Turn head left, squint with right eye. Turn head right, squint with left eye. I'm kidding. Sort of.
Until a book catches my attention. Inevitably, it's a book that I started and discarded at least once. And voila (as my 6 year old would say), I'm hooked. I have my next book to read.
What I've learned is that almost every time, that book that's just caught me is about something that relates to my life in some way at that moment in time. It could be something the character is going through or maybe it's the location of a scene in the book. It might be the writing style of the author or a perfect example of how to deal with a craft issue I've been struggling with. It's not always an obvious "why" but there's almost always something that reveals itself during the read. The book wanted to be read because it had something to share with me.
I know, it sounds crazy. But there you have it. A few years ago, for example, I picked up a book, AGAIN - for the tenth time probably in about two years, and got instantly hooked. Why now when the greatness of this book had been alluding me for so long (the book had been on the bestseller list and recommended by pretty much everyone I know)? By the time I finished reading that book, the idea of writing and trying to get published was firmly planted. So I've learned my lesson. I don't fight the choice - if a book isn't ready to be read, I'll put it back on the shelf and wait patiently until it's ready. Or until I'm ready for it.
How do you pick your next reading book?