At the end of last year, Bill, of The Australian Legend, asked me what seemed a straightforward question – how do you choose what to read next?
I’ve been thinking about my answer since, trying to tune into what is driving my choice of books and I’ve realised that it’s a really difficult question to answer.
There are a number of things at play –
01. Mood – I literally scroll through the covers on my Kindle or glance over the books by my bed and pick. Yes, I’m that fickle.
02. A ‘reading roll’ – this can be positive or negative. For example, I might be loving stories set in the eighties and seek more or I might be over short story collections and need something meatier.
03. Prizes – March and April is dominated by reading the Stella Prize longlist and shortlist and that’s my priority.
04. My TBR stack (and I choose depending on what will tick off reading challenges) – I know some people don’t like reading challenges because they feel restrictive but I find them a useful way of sorting through the TBR and rediscovering books I bought five years ago but haven’t read.
05. ARCs – I’m not terribly efficient with ARCs and can’t quite believe I keep getting given them (but publishers, if you’re reading, I do eventually get to them because I do have a fair case of Reading FOMO).
06. Format – I generally have a hardcopy and an e-book on the go, and sometimes an audiobook as well. When I finish something in those formats, I replace it with the same format.
07. Whim – I ignore all of the above and just pick a book.
As I write this list, I’m thinking that choosing a book seems like a stupidly complex task but in fact I LOVE the anticipation of choosing the next book (it’s like holiday planning, where as much enjoyment is derived from researching your destination as there is in the actual holiday). And although this list appears to be a bunch of hurdles, I mentally scroll through it within seconds… which suggests that 01. and 07. are probably the most important.
Every so often I throw caution to the wind and let blog readers do the picking for me with a poll. There’s also some websites that do the picking for you although I’ve never used these (What Should I Read Next and Which Book)
How do you choose what to read next?