What do I read next?

17 Mar

I have a lot of conversations with people about books. Being a librarian this isn’t really surprising but what is surprising is the constant need people seem to have to justify to me, as a librarian and, presumably, as a book snob, that they do in fact read A LOT. If a patron isn’t justifying to me their reading preferences then they are confessing to me why they haven’t been reading (read two Dickens, one Atwood, and a collection of essays and thou art forgiven!). Usually people don’t have time or they can’t find the right book. As a librarian my job, generally speaking, is to help people find what they are looking for and usually what they are looking for is a book that will live up to the last book they read that was amazing. This isn’t always true but many times during a readers advisory interview (I sound so fancy!) I learn that the last book they loved was so wonderful and so engrossing and they want one JUST LIKE THAT. This is difficult for lots of reasons but usually if I can sell a book hard enough to them they almost always come back loving it. This doesn’t always work but usually if I listen well enough and tell them I loved a book a lot they will go away happy and come back beaming.

I enjoy my job. A lot. Even my colleagues sometimes tell me that I “like book A LOT. Like, A LOT.” (let’s be real  here: I haven’t read all the books and there will always be people smarter and people who are more well read than me). I love hearing it and I really do love books. The problem for me though is when I read a book I really love and I don’t know how to get out of that haze. You know the haze. The just-read-a-novel-that-challenged-me-and-now-I-only-want-to-read-a-book-that-will-give-me-that-reading-high haze. It’s the haze we all go through when we love a book so thoroughly, when we live with a book and learn from a book, that we never ever want to read another book because…what if it isn’t AS good as that book? We will lose that “so in love never break up with me” feeling we had with the last book we read.

Somehow, and I know we’ve all been there, this book so engulfs us that we suddenly find ourselves uninterested in reading at all. I know we’ve all been there because it happened to me recently. I’ve become that patron who can’t decide on what to read, decides she wants to read all the books, takes home six or seven and then ends up owing like $10 in late fees because she keeps telling herself to avoid the library at all cost to save embarrassment from the librarians that she “read” six books in three weeks when in reality she just watched all of True Blood for the second time. The shame!

Here’s my advice: Just do it. Just pick up the next book on your to-read shelf and read. Even if this isn’t your problem and you’re just full of excuses why you can’t pick up another book: just do it. Just do it! Just. Do. It. If you want to be a better reader or you want to find another gem in the wide world of published texts you have to read. In order to be a reader you have to read and being in love with a book and not wanting to sully its memory of how great you felt while reading it isn’t the right way to love books. Not all books will be homeruns but there are lots of books worth reading. If you’re having an especially hard time like I have been having give yourself 50 pages. 50 pages to like the book or you’d done. Then forgive yourself for not finishing a book. Life is too short to invest your precious time on a book that 50 or 100 pages into it you know you are probably going to keep hating. We’ve all abandoned books and guess what? Those books will hopefully still be there if we are ever ready for them again.

I know this honeymoon period is great. You’re still all “that book just got me.” And “Book, you were so amazing. How did I live my life before I had you?” Don’t worry: You can re-read it next year.



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