Monday, June 25, 2012

Reading Rituals

mah TBR pile, let me show you it.

When I first started going to used bookstores as a real, grown up adult, I had a ritual. First, go to store, trade in old books, comb shelves for undiscovered treasures. Note, this was before the internet, so that meant one had to subscribe to author newsletters by snail mail, keep track of Romantic Times magazine (before it was RT Book Reviews) as well as word of mouth, and keeping written lists. Yeah. Old school. I get the niggle that I might have blogged about this before, but it's a Monday after an odd weekend after an odd week, so I'm not going to stress over that.

Once books were selected and purchased, that was time for the frozen yogurt place and the next stage of my ritual. I would lay out all the books on the table, and arrange them in chronological order, from closest to ancient times to closest to modern day. So, if I’d purchased an Edwardian, a Tudor, a Georgian and a Medieval, I would read them as such: Medieval, Tudor, Georgian, Edwardian. Knowing the order of my reading was Very Important, so this step of the ritual could not be skipped. (Picture above is thumbnail of random, unsorted TBR shelf. Click to embiggen.)

After determining order, then the reading could begin, free of the “what do I read first” question. That’s already decided, and the others would come in time. When I’d read through everything in that haul, I’d get to come back to the bookstore. Less complicated times, for sure.

I haven’t done the arrange-by-time-period thing lately. The above ritual was from a time when connected books were not the norm, and finding a variety of settings could be an easier task. Stacking three or four books with the same setting doesn’t provide the same sort of satisfaction and my ereader can sort books by author or by title, but not by setting. Maybe a fancier model could do that, so I’ll have hope for the future.

It’s different choosing books now. I’ve been reading in the historical romance genre for some time, and no plans to change that. Genre-wise, I’m home, and I’m happy. Genres, though, are always in flux. Ebooks did not exist in those days, linked books were not yet the norm, and the abovementioned Edwardian, Tudor, Georgian and Medieval? They might all be on the backlist of the same author. I didn’t attend RWA chapter meetings or conferences, so the chance of coming home from such outings with free books was less than nil, I knew a grand total of one author personally, and though I was working on a historical romance manuscript, I had not finished or sold.

Thinking of all this today, since it’s been an odd week, heat wave requiring much time hopping from air conditioned place to air conditioned place, and thinking wistfully of a quiet place to read, uninterrupted. Did I mention that these UBS trips were always done solo? When it’s me, the books and the frozen yogurt, it’s serious business.

What about you, dear readers? Do you have any rituals for reading newly acquired books? Print before electronic? The other way around? All genre X and then genre Y? Reach into shopping bag with eyes closed? Know of a good place for frozen yogurt? Soft serve is also acceptable.


JoifulDreaming said...

I tend to break mine up: Fiction, non-fiction, fiction, etc. But, that gets blown out of the water when I find a series that I like. Then I must read them all in order from the first to the most recent. Right now I'm steaming my way through The Dresden Files at Warp 9.95.

Anna Carrasco Bowling said...

Hi, JoifulDreaming! I'm the same way when I hit on a vein of something wonderful; any other plans or rituals go out the window until I'm done, and series must be read in order.