Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Narrowing down the To-read List

It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read. -Lemony Snicket  From 27 Totally Relatable Quotes About Books on buzzfeed

So... I had about four hundred and fifty books on my to-read list on Goodreads.  This was because it's the only shelf I thought I could use for books I hadn't read yet but were interested in.
Sidenote: if you don't know what Goodreads is, it's a very wonderful website.  It is probably my favorite website in existence.  You will never run out of books to read, and you will never lose all the recommendations you get from your friends.  Also.  If your favorite authors are on Goodreads, you get to see what books they like and don't like and which ones they're reading right now.

There's a cool tool on there that allows you to make an "Interested" shelf to put books on instead of "To-read" and this is a good thing for me.  I decided I needed to prioritize and see which books are more important to me that I read, and which ones aren't as high on that list.  So last night I began to weed through my To-read list and move a bunch of the books I'm not making important /must-read/ books to the Interested shelf.
I ended up putting half the books on my to-read list on the "interested" shelf.  Now my to-read list doesn't seem quite as impossible as it did before.

I'm a writer after all, right?  I shouldn't read just /any/ book that someone tells me I have to read.  Sorry... but there isn't enough time, literally, to read even a tenth of all the books in the world in my lifetime.  I have to choose which ones I'm going to read.  I have to choose.

And how do you choose which books are more important that you read?  Well, the ones in the genre that you're writing or are interested in writing.  If you write science fiction, you might find reading early science fiction works very important.  If you write literary stories, you will find that reading literary books is very important for giving you ideas for your writing and giving you an idea of what is out there.
If you write fairy tales, you'll want to study fairy tales.  If you write literary/romance YA, you'll want to read books like The Fault in our Stars by John Green and the like.
And if you want to learn how to better your craft or understand it better, you may want to read nonfiction works like Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle and essays by C S Lewis and Tolkien and G K Chesterton.

You don't have to read every book that falls into your lap.  I own several books that I haven't read and don't plan on reading for a while because there are some books I think are more important that I read.
I even made a list of books that I'm planning on reading /this/ year.

In a way it's like I'm choosing my own education and schooling in writing.  Regardless, I think it's important that we become aware of what we read and don't feel obligated to read every book someone recommends us, or every book that is famous.
I haven't read the Hunger Games or Divergent or Harry Potter or Twilight or the Fault in our Stars.  They aren't really the kinds of books I want to write right now.  And I tend to write a bit like whatever book I'm reading.

What about you?  Do you have a protected list of books that you mean to read at some point?