Stuck in the mud

Five rows and four columns to choose from.

Sometimes too much to choose from is just plain too much. With about 800 books in my TBR it is really hard sometimes to know what to move on to. When I go to the public library or bookstore, the choice rarely seems overwhelming. Most things I see I don’t want to read (which is a good thing, life is too short). But on my shelves at home, all the books have already passed through a screening process and landed on my shelves because, at least at some point, I wanted to read them.

So what do you do when you have too many good options to choose from? Especially when you have had a slow reading year (only 43 books so far) and suddenly feel the need to make a dent in all those unread books. It can kind of make your head spin. The other day when I needed to choose something to read, it wasn’t that nothing was speaking out to me, it was that everything was speaking to me.  I was in one of those moods where everything seemed fascinating. I tried to use a randomly generated number to choose the next book, but when I located the corresponding book on the shelf it just seemed too final.

That’s when a sort of madness set in. I wanted something short and I wanted something that had perhaps been languishing for a while on the shelf, or maybe an author I’d been meaning to get to. Or maybe dipping into a Persephone or NYRB Classic. Or maybe…I came up with the idea that I could choose one book from each shelf that would, when taken in total, help me scratch all of my itches. Obviously, I couldn’t read them all at once, but making a smaller set to choose from seemed like a worthy and possibly effective way of spending my time. Since I have 20 shelves of unread novels, this means I came up with a stack of 20 books to read. And as usual I wanted to read them all at once. Just somehow cram them into my brain. Eventually, however, I managed to cool my jets, pick one up (the Graham Greene) and actually start to read. It kind of started a mini-tsunami of reading, I finished the Greene, the Bronte, and the Laski. To keep up the momentum, I even brought nine of the 20 with me on my eight-day Thanksgiving Day trip. I just finished the Laski this morning so now I get to pick the next one…at least I only have seven to choose from instead of eight hundred.

In addition to the Greene and the Laski, I brought Otsuka, Modiano, Johnson, Grumbach, Crace, Compton Burnett, and Bedford with me on my trip. I think the Modiano might be next.


12 thoughts on “Stuck in the mud

  1. TravellinPenguin November 25, 2019 / 6:17 pm

    This made memlaugh. I appreciate your dilemma. I’d go next with the Whitman as I think it would be a quick read then that would be less books in the pile. Lol. Good luck.


    • Thomas December 2, 2019 / 9:25 am

      I started the Whitman, but it didn’t take right away, so I picked up the Graham Greene.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lizipaulk November 26, 2019 / 11:57 am

    Good way to break it down into more manageable proportions! Sounds like it worked!!


    • Thomas December 2, 2019 / 9:26 am

      It definitely served its purpose. I was going to choose another one last night but opted for a bigger book still on the shelf.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. quinn November 26, 2019 / 9:32 pm

    Brilliant! I’m off to do the same right now. Thanks! And Happy Thanksgiving…I’m thankful for Hogglestock new postings! Enjoy


    • Thomas December 2, 2019 / 9:26 am

      Thanks. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving as well.


  4. Joan Kyler November 27, 2019 / 8:31 am

    We readers have such terrible problems!


  5. anon November 29, 2019 / 9:13 am

    How many books do you own?The 800 are just TBR.


    • Thomas December 2, 2019 / 9:27 am

      I choose to leave that unknown, even to me.


  6. Susan in TX December 3, 2019 / 5:10 pm

    My own TBR shelves around 500 and this has become my monthly habit for the last several years. I pick a smaller stack and put it near the bed, never thinking I’ll read them all that month, but just to narrow down the choice and reduce decision fatigue. It seems to help – and I don’t force myself to stay within that stack…if something calls to me from the shelves, who am I to leave it languishing because I missed it when making my original pile?
    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.


  7. Simon T December 5, 2019 / 4:37 am

    The next best thing to reading a book is definitely the fun of selecting one – or a pile. And what an inviting pile this is!


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