As someone who works in a library, I spend a lot of time thinking about books. I read book blogs, I pore over professional review sources, I keep an eye on media for mentions of book trends, and I am constantly talking to patrons and other staff members about books. As you can well imagine, my Goodreads To Be Read list is out of control. The ease of adding books to the site and my constant exposure to the newest and greatest books has added up to quite an overwhelming virtual pile of books. If circumstances pull me away from reading for a few days (or, um, weeks), I feel the constant gravitational pull of all the books I need to read-â€“for work, for pleasure, because a friend recommended it to meâ€“-tugging me back.
What I’ve realized of late, however, is that the books I actually end up reading are usually the new releases that come through my library. I excitedly put things on hold when I see them on Wowbrary (http://www.wowbrary.org/), and then have to gobble them up when five, ten, or fifteen of them decide to appear on the holds shelf within the same week.
All this is great! I love being surrounded by books, and I can’t imagine a better thing to be (slightly!) drowning in. But I am here today to tell you the one thing that keeps me from getting burnt out on reading (blasphemy to even think it, I know!).
It’s plain old browsing.
Not browsing Goodreads, not browsing blogs, just old-fashioned, physical browsing in the stacks. When I actually wander through the stacks, letting my hand trail over book spines and my eyes flit from cover to cover, I inevitably discover something I never even knew I wanted to read. Whether it’s the non-fiction book on a topic I never knew I was interested in, or the adult book by a YA author I’ve read before, or just a book with an interesting cover (hey, sometimes it’s fun to judge a book by its cover!), letting yourself be free of your book lists and just pick something up can be liberating.
So, today, I give you this call to action. Give browsing a chance! Head to your nearest library, or bookstore, or well-filled friend’s bookshelf, and give yourself time to wander. Don’t worry if it fits with your reading plan or if it’s the cool thing to read or about anything at all. Maybe you’ll discover an old favorite to reread. Maybe you’ll find something so delightful you won’t be able to stop yourself from sharing it with everyone you meet. Maybe you’ll read a complete dud that makes you laugh with its terrible prose.
Whatever you pick, take pleasure in the pure act of browsing and making a decision about what to read next based not on having read all the reviews and being the most informed, but based on pure reader’s instinct.
— Ariel Cummins, currently reading Winter Town by Stephen Emond