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To Read: Next Best Thing or Tried & True?

I walk into a bookstore and my eyes pop open at all of the new release tables. Titles scream out at me, “Do you remember what so-and-so said about me? Buy Me!” or “Didn’t you just read that review saying I was the next best book of the century? Buy Me!” And often I cave. I buy them, I bring them home – full of anticipation and excited to be in a front seat on the bandwagon. I take a few minutes to try to figure out which books to kick out of the bedroom to make space for my new friends. In doing so, I start to re-read back covers or look up old reviews to see what friends thought. Soon, I am grabbing this pile (the one of books I was going to kick out of my room to make space for the new ones) and hauling them out to the couch, where I promptly make an afternoon of looking through old books (that used to be new) and deciding which ones I am going to read. Because really, I know so much more about these books; they’re the ones that have been out long enough that the hype has worn off and I have a better grasp about whether it will be something that I like. So what happens to those books I bought at the bookstore? They’re put by the bed, where the other pile used to be (seeing that I’ve relocated the older ones I haven’t chosen to read), and the process starts all over again the next time I come home with a pile of newly released hardcovers.

So what is this disease of not being able to read brand new books? It’s a type of commitment/hype/what-if-it-dissapoints-me phobia. There is nothing so displeasing to me as reading a book that I don’t like (or rather the cycle of what happens when I am reading a book I don’t like). What happens is I try to like the book, and when I don’t, it ends up slowing down all of my other reading until I realize that I am not reading much at all, but instead have just finished four seasons of whatever I’m watching on Netflix in a two day time period… and then I finally realize it’s time to toss the book. Therefore, I’m very anxious about what books I choose to read, which often means I choose things that have been tried and proven true. Strange? Probably – but it saves me from a lot of really bad books (and watching a lot of bad television).

So far, I am the only one I know with this affliction. Someday I hope to run across another of my kind so that we can commiserate together over the happy people who bound home from the bookstore and gobble up their purchases in one weekend sitting.