So many books!

March 12, 2019

I often get overwhelmed by the number of things I need/want to do each week. There’s paid editing work, novel writing, family stuff, exercise, household chores, keeping my garden alive (we’ve had a few heat spells in Melbourne recently), driving my son around (my daughter’s 18 and has her licence – so good!), socialising, blogging, social media, listening to podcasts and, of course, reading.

 

There is a pile of books in my study and another on my bedside table that I need to get to, plus an ever-growing list of books I’ve heard about and would like to read. One of the problems with engaging with social media and listening to writing podcasts is that I find out about great books all the time. Three get added for every one that gets crossed off the list.

 

Library books

 

The other pressure is the due dates on library books. I borrow a lot from my local library, and with so many books on my list, I never need to browse. I log onto my library’s online portal and reserve books I want to read. When they become available the library sends me an email and I go to pick them up.

 

What tends to happen, though, is that the books I reserve are often newish releases and everyone else wants to read them too. So there’s a waiting list. Sometimes I’m fifth on the list and sometimes I’m fifteenth. You never know when the book will become available. I love this system but I invariably run into two problems:

  • multiple books become available at the same time

  • I only have three weeks to read these multiple books because if someone else has requested the book, you can’t re-borrow it (this recently happened with Boy Swallows Universe ).

With everything else I want to do in my life, having to finish lots of books in a short time can be stressful. I don’t want to have to skim or speed-read these books – I want to enjoy, appreciate and learn from them. I like to read every word. I’m almost relieved when a book is not as good as I’d hoped and I can happily put it aside.

 

The game plan

 

Last night, lying in bed wide awake as I often am for the first couple of hours after turning off the light, I decided that I don’t need this added stress in my life.* So here’s my plan:

  • While I’m going to continue to add books to my list when I hear about them, I’m going to stop worrying about the length of the list.

  • I’m going to stop requesting books from the library for a while so I can concentrate on toppling the towers of books piling up in my home.

 

My big lesson

 

In thinking about the stress of my ever-increasing reading list, I’ve learnt an important lesson. Since This Thing of Darkness came out four months ago, I given copies to people who I thought would enjoy it or, let’s face it, help me get the word out by mentioning it on social media. I’ve probably mailed or hand-delivered about fifteen copies to other Aussie YA authors and YA book people. This has so far generated one podcast interview and probably three social media posts.** 

 

In my mind, I’ve been asking: ‘It’s a short book, why can’t you just invest three or four hours and read it?’ But that’s me thinking only of myself and focusing on the job at hand: to get the word out about my book. What I didn’t stop to consider (because I was so caught up in the idea that the rest of the world should be as enthusiastic about my book as I am) was that all these people have long to-read lists as well. They are probably equally as overwhelmed (although I hope handling it a bit better) as me.

 

There is always a ranking to the list too. As I said, I prioritise library books because I know I have to return them. Same goes for books I borrow from friends. The books I own get relegated to the bottom of the pile – and that’s where these gifted copies of This Thing of Darkness no doubt sit for the people I have given it to.

 

So, the point is, I’m sorry for thinking bad thoughts about all you lovely people who graciously accepted my book when I shoved it under your nose. Consider me schooled.

 

 

* I’m completely aware that of all the stresses that people experience in the world, this is unbelievably minor and I should check my privilege.

** While one author said no to me sending a copy, it did lead to her asking me to write a guest post for her blog, which was very generous.

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