Monday 11 April 2022

Book List: Making a Decision

I keep looking at my "Recent Reads" list on the sidebar of my blog, trying to figure out what to do with it.

I stopped updating it in late 2020, when my husband was very sick and I had no time to read.

I took up reading again soon after his death. Along with work, it was the only way I could escape, for an hour or two, the desperate sadness I felt about his suffering and our losses. It was also my only hope for getting some sleep. I would read myself into a stupor, turn out the light, and - most times - fall asleep before the video in my head would start playing again.

But I didn't have the energy or the interest to keep track of what I read. And I was reading what I think of as undemanding books, with predictable plots and happy endings - books I usually would have passed over. They weren't books I would necessarily recommend and they weren't ones I wanted to admit I was reading, to be honest. But they were what I needed just then. In fact, I am still choosing them over more complicated books and definitely over books with sad or uncertain endings.

I don't think any of us, including me, needs to be a shrink to figure out why.

But the point I'm trying to make is that I stopped recording them in my sidebar. 

I did stack up the actual physical books and take pictures of them so I could create a list if I wanted to in future.

But I don't think I want to do that.The list is already too long and it will probably get longer as I get back to more complex books. And none of them are "recent" now, so I'll probably change the title.

So I'll be selectively deleting books from the list, keeping only those that impressed me.

I know some of you have a list in your blog sidebar like I do. What makes the list? What doesn't? Do the rest of you keep a list in some other format? Tell me all about it.

UPDATE: I changed my mind. At the suggestion of Elephant's Child, I've decided to set up a page with old reads on it. Will start a 2022 list in the sidebar shortly :)




Elephant's Child said...

I list everything, good, bad or indifferent on my side bar - and put it to a 'page' when the new year begins.
When I am tired, overwhelmed, brain dead or some combination of the above I tend to reread. If the most recent books on my list are all rereads it is a sign I am not in a good place.
Hugs, and happy reading dear sister across the seas.

jenny_o said...

EC: That's interesting. And a useful tool to gain perspective on your state of mind.. How do you create the page, though - is it on your blog? (I don't see one.) I thought I'd take screenshots of my list for my own records before I start deleting but I like the idea of a page instead.

Elephant's Child said...

I haven't published the pages so they are there, but only I can see them at the moment. If you go to the Pages segment on your blog dashboard they are relatively easy to create.

Mike said...

I have several of what I call auxiliary blogs. You could set up "Jenny recent reads" and have a post for each year. Then you could put a link to that blog on this blog. You could wait to transfer the present year until the end of the year.

jenny_o said...

EC: Thank you - that was very helpful. And I found I could copy/paste the whole list, so it made the process quick and easy. Yay for solutions! Thanks again :)

Mike: That's another good idea. See EC's suggestion for what I ended up doing. I should have waited on making a decision until I heard from other bloggers!

Anonymous said...

I read so much non-fiction when I was young I think I burnt myself out with it. Now I read little better than rubbish, well English detective novels using a Kindle. Ten minutes here, ten minutes there and I do seem to get through books quickly enough. Occasionally I will read a proper book that interests me. I've never kept a list.

Marie Smith said...

I recently started to keep a list of books I’ve read since I had the cataract surgery. To be able to read so easily again is a wonder.

Joanne Noragon said...

That last cat has remarkable markings.
When my brother died, aged 28 my sister-in-law told me how awful it was getting to sleep. I told her I'd figured out a method. Take my book to bed and read it to sleep. "What about your glasses?" she asked. I told her invariably one of my kids got up and put my glasses on the table and turned out the light. She adopted the method, and her daughter wound up being her light and glasses tender.

messymimi said...

It never occurred to me, years ago, to keep lists of what i read. These days, i am lucky to find much time to read at all, it feels like work takes all my time.

kylie said...

If I wrote a list of what I'd read lately, there would be next to nothing on it. I did start a list of movies watched but I forget to update it. I considered deleting but it's comforting to look back and know that I did do something "cultural" at some point!

I'm generally not a record keeper and if i was, I'd never be able to find the list :)

River said...

Almost everything I read is undemanding with a predictable plot. I'm not into heavy or deep thinking. If I have to struggle to find the story in amongst the pages of descriptions, explanations and backtracks or whatever, I give it up. Most of what I read is classed as "pop" fiction, literature isn't for me.

crafty cat corner said...

I guess I am going through a similar thing to what you did with your husband. Days are very trying and hard to get through at the moment and could be for a long time yet.
I use crochet to get me through, counting the stitches is very therapeutic and it's my go to for relaxing.
I do love reading but at the moment I can't seem to concentrate on a book.

Joan (Devon) said...

I never thought to keep a list of books read until I saw lists that bloggers had included, like you. So, for the past few years I keep a list in the back of each years diary.

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Good solution to the book list problem. I do not keep such a list, and I regret not having one from my younger years, as I am trying to find some of the ooks I read then once again. But my recent reads are not worth recording. I look forward to seeing what will end up on your new list. I always prefer books with happy endings. I reas somewhere recently: "Stop shaming people for reading kids' books. Adult books are all about sad people having affairs, while kids' books have magic treehouses or a worm driving an apple. You tell me who's winning ;) " And I laughed so much. Totally me! Treehouses win over affairs every day.

Bonnie said...

I've never kept a list of books read on my blog but I do read and enjoy other bloggers' book lists. I see many that list the books by the year. I like the suggestion you received of keeping the current year's reads on the main page and moving the other years to another page. I suppose whether or not you publish that page is up to you. I hope you are well Jenny!

Diane Henders said...

It makes me sad to think you're judging yourself, or fear judgement from others, because of your reading choices. I think all avid readers read what they 'need to be reading' at the time. Whether it's for intellectual development, to understand other points of view, or for comfort and escape; all are equally valid and important. I've been reading more 'fluffy' books lately, too - with all that's going on in the world, I love to escape to a place where there's love and laughter and the good guys always win.

I can't imagine keeping a list of all the books I've read - I have over 1,000 'completed' books on my Kindle, and a huge bookshelf with hundreds more in paperback and hardcover. But if you enjoy keeping your list, more power to you! If it makes you happy, it's worth it; but if it's a chore or a source of unnecessary guilt, drop it without regret. You can always take a break and pick it up again later if you like.

jenny_o said...

Andrew: Even detective novels are a step above what I was reading. Although I read some of those, too. Anything formulaic, where I could predict the ending. Nothing wrong with reading as escape, in my opinion.

Marie: It's wonderful that you can read again easily. Cataract surgery is literally life-changing. I was hoping my mother would want to start to read again but just last night she said that she doesn't want to get in the habit of sitting around all day. I hope she changes her mind.

Joanne: I must see if one of my cats can become my tender :) I'm glad you could give your SIL good advice on sleeping. It's a challenge.

Mimi: I think work does take most of your time. You work A LOT. I'm in awe. May you find time, at some point, to read more if that is a pleasure you miss.

kylie: Hah! I do like to keep records but lose my lists, too. That's why I was happy to put my list on my blog when it began. It's harder to lose the computer :)

River: I should have clarified that I don't read what is termed literature either. Classics are not for me. I have tried, but in my opinion a lot of classics could have benefited from a good hard editing :) Easy reading has a broad audience and I think it's because it's a good escape. Which I found out.

Briony: How I feel for you; yes, crocheting or anything repetitive is very good for calming a person. I couldn't concentrate on books or anything else that required a brain. I was looking after my husband or sleeping, there was nothing in between. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. And afterward, there was a huge vacuum. That was the second-hardest thing I've ever done. Hugs to you xxx

Joan: That's a great idea. I've tried keeping a diary but it just doesn't work for me, but if it did, that's how I'd keep my book list too.

Charlotte: I love that quote - and agree. I quite enjoy young adult fiction and I must confess I've bought children's books "for my grandsons" which have never gone to them because they are not book lovers (as yet, anyway) and I am more than happy to keep them :)

baili said...

i like the idea by Mike either though it needs to create another page ,EC is way is easier and good that you found way to make list of books that interest you dear Jenny.

i loved children books when i was in primary classes ,then young stories and some serious novels ,after marriage and children came long pause and tv was easy option but now when i have little time for reading my choice is totally different and i want to take some deliberate action about i mean add some light topics just to enjoy ,i hope i can do this ,but i never listed my books though .
best wishes for the task and all ahead !
hugs and blessings!

dinthebeast said...

I haven't been reading many actual books for a while, keeping up on current events pretty much consumes all of my reading time. I do have a Sarah Vowell book stashed for the upcoming day when I have to do an operating system upgrade though.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Martha said...

I have a list of books that I've read on Goodreads. It doesn't include everything I've ever read because I didn't keep track since my youth but it's pretty extensive. And I also keep a database for books, too! Sounds funny but it's the only way I can keep track of what I've read or have in the house, so I don't duplicate! Reading has always been an escape for me and a way to fall asleep, especially during difficult periods. I exhaust myself to the point of passing out!

I'm actually looking forward to seeing your list. I always stuff like that out on blogs because they give me ideas on books that may interest me.

jenny_o said...

Bonnie: I tried to make the page public but it didn't work and I didn't want to fiddle with it too much in case I wiped out my whole blog :) I'll try again when I get some courage!

Diane: The first part of your comment made me cry. Yes, I shouldn't be worried about what I'm reading as long as it serves my needs at the time. I wouldn't judge someone else so why do I judge myself? I needed that; thank you. Please send me the bill for that bit of therapy because it was spot on :)
One of the reasons I started the list was so I could avoid buying the same books twice. Another reason was that I had just gone through a period where I had pretty much stopped reading books altogether (when my dad was in the nursing home and I was visiting every day). I guess it was a motivational tool, in a way. I don't need that anymore but I still have the urge to keep track, so I likely will. But as you say, I don't NEED to and it should work for me, not the other way around. You really are an avid reader - how do you find time to read AND write?!

baili: I think you have been doing a lot of interesting but difficult reading lately! Maybe you could alternate between difficult and easy books just so you get a break?

Doug: I had to look up Sarah Vowell; her work sounds interesting. Which book do you have waiting? Have you read any others? Let me know how you like it!

Martha: Yes to avoiding duplication! Especially when a person tends to give away most books after reading them. I noticed your Goodreads list and figured it was not a full list of what you've read so it does not surprise me you have a database too :) Since I get most of my books second-hand, there won't be that many current books on my list, but I hope it provides some ideas anyhow.

dinthebeast said...

I have "Assassination Vacation", one of her books I found out about from seeing her interviewed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Mr. Shife said...

What an excellent suggestion by Elephant's Child and sounds like a good way to go, jenny_o. I am just trying to find one single book to read so I don't have a list at all. I am terrible at reading and it looks like I am also terrible at picking out books. I might have to check out your list to help me get some motivation and inspiration. Take care.

37paddington said...

I don't much share what I read, maybe because the list is so variable. I don't my being drawn to lighter fare on occasion. My only requirement for a book is that it hold my interest. It's a low bar for one who cut her teeth on sappy Mills and Boons at a preteen age when I was too young to be reading them (or so I thought my mother would think) and so I covered the books with aluminum foil, as if that would draw less of my mother's attention. She didn't care, as it turns out. My parents never did try to censor our reading. A couple of the seminal book of my young teens were Five Smooth Stones and The Sound of Thunder. I wonder if they have aged well. I don't know. I only know it made me want to write.

jenny_o said...

Doug: Assassination Vacation is a great title, isn't it?! I saw that listed and described in the Wikipedia article on the author. I'd be interested in your reaction to it when you get to read it.

Mr. Shife: I'm not sure you should be worried about reading if it's not your thing. Everyone takes in information differently. You are a huge movie fan and that's another type of escape/entertainment. That's what books are for me (I'm not a movie watcher). And yes, I was so glad to get EC's suggestion. It was a quick and easy solution.

37p: That's funny about covering the novels with foil to make them less obvious! lol
I read Five Smooth Stones in high school and really liked it. I still have a copy and should re-read it. Thanks for reminding me of that. Haven't heard of the other title but I will look for it. I appreciate your thoughts on what we read; I'm feeling better about my choices since I wrote this post and got feedback from everyone.

Steve Reed said...

I keep a personal book list, just to remind myself what I've read, but I don't post it on my blog. (Well, I haven't in many, many years, anyway.)

Bohemian said...

I think I AM that Cat in the last Meme!

jenny_o said...

Steve: That's another option I considered, but I'm terrible to start paper lists and then lose them.

Bohemian: LOL - me too :)