Indulgence. Why is that such a hard concept for me when it comes to reading? Up until a few years ago I mostly read by mood. I’m in the mood for a classic, I pick one and read it. I’m in the mood for fluff, so be it. I’m in the mood for a WW2 biography, bring it on!
Then I joined, and quickly was helping lead, an online book club. Suddenly I had a list. I was passionate about this list. No, to be honest it wasn’t so much passion as compulsion. I get that way about lists. So I collected all but 4 of the 118 books on the list I didn’t yet own, plus a few on the periphery group list as well. Sadly, I found two other lists to obsess about on top of the first. It wasn’t pretty. (I blame my ex – everything was his fault during that time!) After a while it kind of felt like a chore to read the books the group chose. I didn’t like that it felt that way, because often they were books I was really looking forward to and occasionally, it was even a title I had selected.
The other compulsion that occasionally overcomes me when selecting my next book is this feeling that I “ought to” read something. I think this comes a bit from being a literature major, as well as being someone who wants to continue to expand my brain and be “well-read.” It also comes from my upbringing in that you do the difficult and unenjoyable first, then if there is time you can do something pleasurable. (This didn’t serve me well in college because I loved my major so I’d always leave that work for last and things I would have aced I struggled with!) The trouble with the “ought to” mentality is that when I’m not into a book, I flounder.
I guess what I’m saying is that I need to read for joy. This means being excited, anticipating, and being in the mood to read it. Also, I need to quit selecting something because it’s on a list and I want to keep crossing books off. I need to read what interests me in the moment, and along the way, those books will get read because it will be the right timing and my mood will take me there.
So, the question becomes, what books in my to-read pile am I most looking forward to reading? What have I delayed reading for those “ought to’s” and list books? These are what I came up with:
- The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
- The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier
- Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
- Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein
- American Gods and the other unread books by Neil Gaiman
- The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
- The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke
- All Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett titles I haven’t yet read
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
- Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series by Douglas Adams
It’s a pretty eclectic list. Actually, there are quite a few more, but these seem to float to the surface most often when I’m looking at my library and wishing. Oh, and these are just from the books I already own (except for the complete canons of Gaiman, Chandler, & Hammett – still a few to fill in on each). Also, this list doesn't include recommended books I'm excited for either.
So, while I’m sure I’ll continue to intersperse some of the more educational and spiritual reads, I’m excited to start diving in to my joy and reading these. The trouble is choosing just one with which to begin!
Time to indulge…