Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How do you choose your next book?

How do you choose your next book? How do you choose your next book? How do you choose your next book? I was thinking about this question the other day (& what word to emphasize when I ask it) as I read another enticing review on a blog & realised I had the book on my tbr shelves. The review was of Clerical Errors by D M Greenwood & the blog was Geranium Cat's Bookshelf. You might ask why I was reading a 5 month old review? Well, I have a Google Alert set up for D E Stevenson & Geranium Cat has just reviewed Miss Buncle's Book so with one click I was there & I started exploring. That's how I came across the review of the D M Greenwood, working my way through her old posts. It's not a new title as I read all the D M Greenwoods when they were first published but they've recently been reprinted by Ostara Publishing, who specialize in reprinting clerical mysteries (as well as Oxbridge & medieval mysteries) & I'd bought myself a copy of Clerical Errors some time ago, planning a reread.

Having read Miss Buncle's Book some time ago, I really should read the sequel, Miss Buncle Married, both books reprinted by Persephone. I've read the third book in the series, The Two Mrs Abbotts, by accident as I listened to it on audio & didn't realise it was part of the series until Mrs Abbott (née Buncle) turned up.

If you have a look at what's on my tbr table (which is one step closer to actually being read), you'll see H E Bates's Fair Stood The Wind For France. I read a review at Reading Matters & was inspired to take it down from its spot on the top tbr shelf where it sits with the other silver spined Penguin Modern Classics. That's a question for another day. How do you organise the tbr shelves? Alphabetical by author? By subject? By imprint? In the order they came into the house?

Then, a little while ago, Elaine at Random Jottings was rereading Anthony Trollope & she enthused about his Autobiography so down it came too.

Charlotte Brontё's Shirley is there because I loved rereading Villette so much recently that I want to read Shirley again too.

Sense & Sensibility is there because I've just finished rereading it to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its publication. I'll be posting about it later in the week. Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman is the latest choice of my 19th century bookgroup. Catherine Carswell's The Camomile was downloaded (free from Open Library) back in April when I read Desperate Reader's review here & there's another enticing review at 20th Century Vox here.

I've been reading lots of Scottish history & fiction lately & Mary Stewart's Stormy Petrel was one of the reprints I bought earlier this year. I downloaded George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia from my library's catalogue of e-books so I only have it for a fortnight. I also downloaded David Kynaston's massive Austerity Britain on the principle that the e-book is easier to read than the 700pp hardback. What was I thinking? I only have two weeks to read both.

I missed reading short stories after reading so many of them last year so I borrowed the new collected stories of Margaret Drabble, A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, & I've been reading a story a day. I've read a few chapters of Margaret Kennedy's Together & Apart but I'm not sure I'm really in the mood so it may disappear from the tbr table, relegated to the tbr shelves.

So, how do you choose your next book? I love having so many unread books because it often means I have a copy of that book I've just read about on one of my favourite blogs & I can get it down straight away & have a look at it. Maybe it goes back to the tbr shelves & maybe it makes it to the tbr table. Of course, my next book might be none of these but something that I haven't even considered yet. It might be one of the new Stella Gibbons reprints on the way to me from The Book Depository right now. There's a lovely article on Stella Gibbons here & a review of Westwood here. It might be a book that someone in my online bookgroup raves about. That's how I discovered The Unbearable Bassington by Saki. Now I think of it, I have Saki's short stories on the tbr shelves...  Maybe I'll start the Saki stories after the Drabble. At least I will never be in the heart-stopping position of having nothing to read next. Serendipity is a wonderful thing!


  1. It's really not a fair question, because my rationale for deciding goes right out the window when I see a post like this, full of things I suddenly want to read next! :)

  2. Lovely post, describes the process exactly.

  3. I don't have a TBR shelf but a TBR list as I get almost all of my books from the library. I usually try not to read something that is too much like the thing I just read for fear that I may get tired of the genre or the series or the author or the time period. And then, every once in awhile, I enjoy reading non-fiction or long, involved Victorian novels. But both seem to exhaust me, so I usually try to space those out. Reading good reviews usually changes my TBR list, and periodically, I have to go back through it because something I really want to read might have been pushed way down the list because I've added so many new books to it!

  4. Usually it's whatever tickles my fancy that day. Although with Autumn just around the corner I've been feeling the urge for some Austen or Collins so the seasons do play a part I suppose.

    Before discovering book blogs I really didn't buy all that many books. I work in a library for goodness sake! But you wonderful people have inspired my reading in many fabulous ways and now I have my very own mini-library at home.

  5. This was a terrific post. I love Persephone books, and the ones you mentioned are ones on my list.

    I generally choose my next book by whether or not the first few paragraphs appeal to me --no very scientific :)

  6. How do I choose what to read next? I get three or four books which appeal then read the first few pages of each and see which one(s)'catch' and go with that (them!)
    Well that's the way it normally goes but recently I have had far too many books from the library so 'due' dates are a factor, plus I am feeling a little bit twitchy and unsettled for a variety of reasons,and find that I can only really concentrate on books with a strong storyline so I have been reading a lot of crime novels and historical novels (I can recommend James McGee's Hawkwood books which are full of adventure and have a very attractive hero!)
    I had meant to read more classics but I just can't settle to them at the moment.

  7. After all my dithering, I started Homage to Catalonia & read it in only a couple of sittings. Really enjoyed it but it made me realise how little I know about the Spanish Civil War. Have now started Mary Stewart's Stormy Petrel. It's really hard to know what to read next. Hearing yesterday that Nancy Wake had died made me want to read her biography by Russell Braddon which was also on the tbr shelves so I've got that down as well. Unless I have a library book that I know I can't renew, I just go with the latest impulse really. It's as unscientific as that.

  8. First of all, thank you to Lyn. I had never heard of Nancy Wake, and after reading your mention went on a search. An amazing, amazing woman.

    How do I choose? It's different every time. Sometimes a book I have ILLed from the library comes in. Sometimes I read about a book on a blog, and I own it so I read that. Sometimes I just walk around my shelves - that's my favorite.

    I recently bought the Margaret Drabble book, too. Haven't picked it up yet, though. I also bought her The Pattern in the Carpet. Excellent, though I put it down to continue another time.

  9. I'm a big fan of Mary Stewart - read all her books when I younger. Nice memories.

    I'm also a big fan of Stella Gibbons' COLD COMFORT FARM. I'm off to use your link and read up on Gibbons. Thanks!

    How do I choose my next book? That's a hard one. I don't have a rule. It usually goes by mood. What am I in the mood for? Do I want to travel? Do I want to think deep thoughts? Do I want to solve a mystery or visit a certain setting, i.e. the Wolfe brownstone on 35th street. That sort of thing.

    I know I should be more organized about it. :)

  10. Nan, you're right, Nancy Wake was amazing &, although I've known about her for a long time, I've never read a biography so I feel I need to know more. She was another of those amazing men & women who risked their lives every day during WWII & the rest of her life afterwards was a bit of a disappointment, I think. She reminds me of the character Meryl Streep played in the movie, Plenty. I'm enjoying the Drabble short stories & I really like Pattern in the Carpet. I'd have liked a bit more memoir & a bit less jigsaws but it was still very enjoyable. Yvette, I agree with you about mood, that's often the most important factor. Lately I haven't been able to read anything new. I've taken several new mysteries by favourite authors back to work unread, I'm just not in the mood. I have the new Peter Lovesey & Kate Ellis at the moment but I'm not tempted by them at all. I'm sure it's just a phase.

  11. I read a biography of Nancy Wake a few years ago completely by accident as I have to admit to not having heard of her at the time.

    It was quite a revelation and I was left in awe of her.
    What an amazing woman.

  12. Hi Lyn, I notice that you live in Australia...i do too....i was wondering where did you purchase the Persephone books from? I have found them difficult to get hold of here in Aust. Also i've just discovered your blog...love it!
    Warm Regards, Susan.

  13. Hello & thank you Susan. I bought my Persephones from their website & I have a standing order now so I get the new ones when published. They're usually available through Amazon (if you spend over 25 pounds they don't charge freight to Aust anymore, hooray!) but I don't think you get the bookmarks unless you buy them from Persephone. The Persephone Classics are also available through Amazon & Book Depository. I've never seen a Persephone in a bookshop here.

  14. Thanks, Lyn ...I was considering buying them direct from Persephone, so I think I'll do that too.
    Cheers, Susan x