This was posted by Jenny Shank on the Barnes and Noble Blog and it’s great advice- “If you’re a book lover, you likely suffer from a common problem: the bedside book stack that threatens to grow so large you might well end up like Anthony Cima, the elderly San Diego gentleman who became buried in his collection of 9,000 books following an earthquake in July of 1986. When rescuers dug him out, he thanked them then asked for a book to read. If you’re going to work your way through your to-be-read pile before it topples, you’ll need a plan. How do you decide what to read next?
- Remove anything that guilted its way onto your stack
So your dentist found out you’re a reader and passed along one of her favorite books…about dentistry. Unless it’s Joshua Ferris’s dentistry novel To Rise Again At A Decent Hour, which is—trust me—very entertaining, pass on this book. Skip the book you were supposed to read for book club three months ago, and your neighbour’s self-published whaling-themed novel. Let them go on to seek readers who are really into whaling history. It’s for the best. Maybe you and that book will cross paths again someday, but there are lots of other whaling novels in the sea.
- Next, look at your stacks and grab the book that makes you most excited
Maybe you can’t wait to read the latest book by your favorite author (In my case that’s Richard Price as Harry Brandt’s new novel The Whites, written under the pseudonym Harry Brandt), or there’s a graphic novel you’ve been meaning to check out, or you just need a laugh and there’s a book by David Sedaris or Sloane Crosley or Mary Roach in your stack. Read it first. A happy reader is a fast reader, and your pile will reduce in no time.
- Consider alternating a classic with a contemporary
It can be fun to go back and forth in time in your reading, and it’s doubly fun when the contemporary novel was inspired by the classic—try reading E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End back to back with Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, which she has said was a homage to Forster’s novel, or Michael Cunningham’s The Hours next to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Speaking of Woolf, the new novel Vanessa and Her Sister, by Priya Parmar, told through diary entries and letters from the perspective of Woolf’s sister Vanessa, would pair well with any book by a Bloomsbury group author.
- Read a book given to you by a friend
Recommending a book is one thing, but when a friend actually hands you a book and says, “Read this!,” it means not only did they love it, but they also saw something you would love in it, and they’re willing to wager the price of the book that they’re right. Even if you don’t end up as gaga about the book as your friend was, reading it will provide a nice excuse to meet up with them and discuss it.
- Read the book that will fall on you first if you don’t read it right now
Have we learned nothing from Anthony Cima? If that bedside book pile looks like it might tumble onto you while you sleep, just read a few at random from the top before an earthquake hits. We’ll call this Safety Shuffle Mode.”