Thursday, 24 June 2010
How do you decide what to read next?
A lot of bloggers out there seem to be reading through shortlists for awards, or broadening their horizons by purposefully seeking out non Western authors, for instance, or works from an author they've never tried before.
I am also amazed at the number of people who seem to have these TBR (to be read) piles which some are methodically working their way through. I have no IDEA how many books I own which haven't been read and I certainly do not know the order in which they will be read. I actually hate the idea of having read every book on my shelves as I love having the lure of many undiscovered tomes lining my living room wall. (Am I the only one who sits and gazes at my bookshelves with a happy, dreamy expression on my face? Seriously, I do this a lot.)
When I am finishing a book, I start to get a feeling of the type of book I would like to read next, an itch that will need to be scratched. For instance, if I have been reading some magical realism or gentle romance, then I become thirsty for non-fiction; if I'm coming to the end of a novel set in the Victorian age then I will suddenly feel the need to read about contemporary characters whose daily, outer lives reflect my own. The feeling is sometimes vague but at other times, it is highly specific.
I am still reading the enormous Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets, and this procedural, journalist's document filled with statistics, personal histories and grim realities has led to a yearning for something frothy and a little more superficial.
I want to read something set in New York in the mid 20th century. No earlier than the 20s and no later than the early 1980s. I have an image in my mind of a sophisticated drinks party attended by authors, playwrights and a couple of movie stars. The women are wearing cocktail dresses and the men sport ties. Glasses clink and slightly posh laughter rings in my ears. There is delightfully acerbic banter and there will probably be a couple of affairs. If there is a book which crosses Nora Ephron's New York nostalgia with Truman Capote's social life and Elaine Dundy's razor-sharp lust for life, then it is what I wish to read next.
I want it to have descriptions of delicious food stuffs too.