Sunday Salon 52: What to Read Next

Posted 27 November, 2011 by Trish in Reading Nook / 32 Comments


Something curious happened to me the other day. I had the urge to pick up a new book to read. I’ve been reading What Mothers Do extreeeeeeeeeeeeemly slowly, and of course been listening to audiobooks when the mood strikes, but it’s been a long time since I looked at my shelf and had no idea what I wanted to read next.

You see, before I kicked the reading challenge addiction, I always had a long list of books that I needed to read next. And if not for reading challenges then for book club. Or readalongs. Or for college. In the past several years it’s been rare for me to have no idea what to read next. Ok, this is a slight exaggeration as it’s been a good year since I dropped challenges.

But as I stared at over 600 spines, including the books I’ve already read and the books I know I’ll never read, I had no idea what to pick up. SO many books I want to read, but I felt lost. I knew I was in the mood for something, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that something was. Something that I could…get lost in. A book that would wrap me up and hold me tight and never let me go (doesn’t that sound amazing?). I finally settled on Affinity by Sarah Waters.

I’ve completely forgotten that once upon a time I was an innocent reader. One who wasn’t influenced by this thing called book blogging. And this is definitely another post topic for another day, but I wondered if I was alone. Do you ever stare at your shelf and have no idea what to read next? What makes you pick the particular book you did? Is it based on mood or someone else just read it and loved it or because you need to read it for a challenge or publisher?

Tell me–How do you decide what to read next?

On the Blog:

Looking Back to Last Week
**You gave me GREAT suggestions for books for the babe
**I told you a little about me
**Q&A book post for The Help by Kathryn Stockett
**Elle’s Seven Month Update

Looking Forward to Next Week
I’m debating on entering the Chronicle Books Happy Haulidays contest. Guess it depends on how much free time I have to make a list! Tomorrow I’ll post a short blip on the public/privacy issue. And Thursday I’ll be talking about Traditions for the Holiday Advent Tour.

Have you all recovered from the Turkey? Whether you celebrated Thanksgiving this weekend or not, I hope you had a wonderful weekend. What’s on your agenda for the day?

32 Responses to “Sunday Salon 52: What to Read Next”

  1. Unless I’ve committed to a certain date, I generally pick whatever strikes my fancy at the time. I admit that I’m influence by reviews quite often. Sometimes it’s hard to pick though.

  2. I am probably like Kathy although I would add, “what is in front of me.” I.e., it came in the mail and it’s sitting right there, or something. But even then it is SO mood-influenced!

  3. I used to be good. I would read review copies, challenge books, etc. just like you. Now, I read what I want, when I want, and sometimes that means having no freaking clue what to read next because nothing jumps out at me. :) Typically when that happens, I re-read a YAL series just for fun.

  4. I have to say I’ve REALLY missed the “Hm, what should I read next? feeling over the past five years. My reading is so often determined by challenges, goals I set myself or other reading commitments. I’ve been a little better about just following my whims this year, but I want to do that even more in the future.

  5. I don’t get review copies because I rarely review books. However, I have gotten a few books from friends and so do feel the pressure, even though slight, to read them. That is how I picked my next read: Mercury Rises by Robert Kroese.

    However, most of the time, I fly by the seat of my pants. I’m involved with a (very) few challenges, but if I don’t get to them right away, then I don’t get to them. I’d rather pick out something off my shelf that’s been sitting there awhile than a challenge book.

  6. I would say that about 1/3 if the time I am reading something that I have obligated myself to read via publishers, book tours, etc. The rest of the time I just read whatever strikes my fancy. Quite a few times I find myself staring at my bookshelves wondering what the hell I am in the mood for!

  7. *Bermuda – Even among books that you need to review is it tough to pick?

    *Rhapsody – So good that you read what’s in front of you! I’m so terrible about buying a book and actually reading it YEARS later!

    *Trisha – I’ve definitely noticed a change in my reading since I gave up on ARCs and challenges! But YAL usually seems like a good way to go for me as well.

    *Nymeth – I know just what you mean, Ana. I got so tired of hearing myself say “I really want to read this but I have to read this first.” Such a weird feeling not having any committments anymore.

    *Unfinished – I think it’s great that you read books that you’ve been gifted right away. I’m really bad about this and have been trying to be better. I think fly by the seat is an awesome mode of reading.

    *ReviewsbyLola – LOL! And it’s especially frustrating when you’re not really sure WHAT mood you’re in!

    *Lit Feline – Convenience, huh? Curious what you mean by that!

  8. Well, these days whatever is on my nook or kindle is more likely to get read. I have so little time to read and do most of it when pumping or breastfeeding (unless she’s squirrelly-can’t do anything then).

  9. Lately I have had a really hard time deciding what to read. I keep picking books up and then putting them back down again… It’s driving me nuts! Reading-wise, I can’t wait until November is over and I can hopefully get back to reading in December.

  10. Now that I’m not doing nearly as many book tours, I do have a lot more time to choose what I want to read and it’s sooo hard! We’re almost to December and I haven’t signed up for a single challenge for next year – may not do a single one. I love the idea of them but I never seem to succeed and it just feels like pressure, even when all of the books I plan to read are books I want to read.

  11. I’m slowly transitioning out of the “obligation reads” phase of my blog and and back into “read what I want mode”. I got really stressed out keeping a calendar of dates to have certain books read by. I still stare at the books I own and am not able to decide but at least when I finally choose one, I can enjoy it guilt-free!

  12. Sometimes, I get really mad at myself for this stupid challenge I set for myself. I get moody and irritated because instead of reading old stuff, I could be reading fun, light-hearted reads.

    Usually, that only lasts for a bit. Then I have to put it in perspective. The books I am reading I always said I would get to one day, but who knows if I ever would have if I didn’t plan this project? And there is an end in sight…somewhere, and when that times comes, I will be able to read other things.

    But I miss being able to read whatever, whenever I want.

    Nowadays, I usually look at challenge lists to inspire me, or just stare at my shelves until something pops out. Right now it isn’t too bad, since I still have 160 books to go, but once that number gets smaller, I’m sure I will fret over what to read next.

  13. I hate when I can’t decide on my next read. Usually it is because I’m not sure what I’m in the mood for or I have a list of books I want to read and I get overwhelmed by all the choices. I try to pick my next read before I am done with my current one, or have a few books going at once.

  14. Not counting my book group, I read what speaks to me. i get a feeling that this is the right book. As for challenges, I only use books that are ones that I would have liked to read anyway.

  15. Not counting my book group, I read what speaks to me. i get a feeling that this is the right book. As for challenges, I only use books that are ones that I would have liked to read anyway.

  16. Ugh, I’m back there again, wanting to read but not sure what I want to read. I’m working on a book that is not interesting me, which is part of the problem. And if I could find one I really want to read – despite my 20 mysteries lined up for to make my 100 book goal this year – none of them appeal to me right this minute. So I think it’s a question of what I’m in the mood for, in the end. Bloggers do bring books to my attention, so do reviewers in papers and magazines, journals, anywhere. I have to be interested before reading them, though!

  17. It’s a weird feeling, isn’t it? I’ve been stuck there a few times recently, too. Last time, I just grabbed 2 YAs from the shelf at the last minute (before holiday travel). The time before that, my husband and I narrowed it down to two titles, and then the dog picked. :p

  18. I have been such a moody reader lately. I gave up on one of my challenges because I just don’t feel like reading the books I picked. It’s not that I won’t ever read them, I just don’t feel like reading them now.

    I’m trying to force my way through David Copperfield right now. I’ve been reading it off and on since July, and I really need to be done with it. I really like it, but at the same time, it’s not the type of book I want to be reading right now.

    Gah! I’ve just been looking at my shelves lately and nothing looks good.

  19. Amy

    I seem to be having a different problem than many of the bloggers who responded here. I didn’t do any challenges this year because I didn’t complete any challenges last year. This year I reviewed a lot of books and I enjoyed doing that but I kept seeing books on my shelves I wanted to read and didn’t have the time for. I’ve mostly finished the books I have to review and so I am now reading books I want to read. When I have to pick something to read, I usually go by my mood and then look at what I have on my shelves.

  20. I love this question. I actually did a post about this topic for Weekly Geeks.

    I usually have a “soft list” in mind when I’m done reading a book of what comes next. However, if I recently acquired something very interesting I’ll usually pick that.

    I have though experienced that moment standing in front of the book shelf like a deer in headlights. I call it “the stare”. In that moment I’ll force myself to switch genres. I find “the stare” usually happens to me when I’ve stuck to a particular genre for too long and I need to switch it up.

    For instance, earlier this year I read a bunch of Sci-Fi novels in a row and when I finished like the 5th book, I just stared blankly at my TBR pile. I decided I needed to change it up so I went on a run of action adventure books by guys like Matthew Reilly, Vince Flynn and Lee Child. Sometimes I’ll also pepper in a few graphic novels/trade paperbacks. It’s all about keeping it fresh.

    That usually kicks starts me. The other thing that can happen is if I finish a book I was disappointed with. That will also cause me to not want to read another book right away or just “take a break” from reading. A new genre helps then, too.

    Great topic, Trish.

    PS – You’re welcome for my long, rambling comment. I did my best to bore everyone that tries to read it. Hm, so I guess this comment is like reading my blog.


  21. Now that I’m *finally* done with school, I hope to break out of the mold of only reading for research’s sake, or only reading what my students are reading. I’ve started getting into women’s memoir, which I never cared much about in the past, but for some reason it is a calming departure from fiction. I usually choose based on word of mouth or an interesting blurb on the back.

  22. For me, it’s definitely the mood. I guess the thickness of the book also play a part in whether or not I choose to bring to and from work. ;)

  23. *Lit Feline – OK, I see what you mean about convenience. I’m no longer nursing, but I do think that an e-reader would have been great for that time! Will consider that next baby.

    *softdrink – Ooooh Pretty Cover works for me when buying books. Devilish covers!!

    *Kailana – I know the feeling of not being able to settle into a book and it can be so frustrating! Wish that we could automatically know exactly what book to read next.

    *Lisa – LOL! It is hard to choose the next book, huh? I kind of envy people who don’t own a hundred books they haven’t read. ;) And yes, I was getting too stressed out with challenges as well—kind of don’t miss them.

    *Kristen M – It’s been interesting over the past few years to see bloggers move in and out of the “obligation reads” and “pleasure reads” categories. Glad that you’re able to do a bit of guilt-free reading!!

    *Allie – I really admire you for being able to stick with it—even 160 books seems really daunting to me (but that could be my current reading pace—or snail’s pace). I’ll be curious how your reading choices/patterns change once your project is over!

    *Bookmagic – Being overwhelmed by all of the choices is definitely a bit factor! Sometime I’ve had my husband choose but then I don’t like his choice. ;-) Wish the books would just choose themselves!

    *Elisabeth – Very lucky that you get a feeling for what book you should read next! I always feel so indecisive—even when I was participating in challenges. Does your book group mutually pick books?

    *Susan – Mood is a huge factor for me as well—and sometimes I have such a tough time pinpointing exactly what that mood is. Hope that you’re able to dig into a great book soon!!

  24. *Wordlily – Ha! And how was the dog’s choice? I’ve let my husband pick for me, but usually I don’t like his choices. ;-) But yes, kind of unsettling to not know what to read next!

    *Kristi – I’ve been there and know exactly how you feel. It is so frustrating to want to be reading something really great but just not being able to find that book. I hope that you can finish David Copperfield soon—or maybe just put it down for a little bit? Though I know that’s tough, too. Kind of how I felt with Brothers Karamazov—was so glad to be finished with that one! Maybe you just need something really light and fun!

    *Amy – I ran into the same problem with challenges as you did, which is why I’ve stopped participating in them. They were great for reading a large variety of books, but left little room for impulse reads. Sounds like you’ve got a great system going that allows you to read what you feel like!!

    *Paxton – Ramble on—I love a good long rambly comment. ;-) You make a great point about keeping the variety and moving to different genres when feeling burned out. I tend to not read like genres too close together, though—same with authors. I must burn out really easily!! And I’d never call one of your comments boring. :P

    *Karen Beth – Must be an incredibly weird feeling for you to not have any more dissertation or grad course required reading!! Seems like I always read pure fluff/fun books when I finished with school. Curious which memoir you’re reading—I have a think for memoirs! :-)

    *Melody – Ohhhh, thickness of book is a HUGE factor for me!! I hadn’t even thought about that. I tend to stay away from the long ones these days because I know they’ll take me so long to plow through (and are tough to carry). Great point!

  25. It’s only in the last year or two that I’ll try not to read several books in the same genre back to back. I used to go on big runs but now I try to always mix it up. Sci-Fi then Action/Adventure followed by a graphic novel…rinse, repeat.

  26. Les

    I love that–“innocent reader.” I’ve stopped accepting ARCs from publicity agents and authors and am trying very hard to ignore them when they come into the store. I love it when I finish a book and can just wander from room to room, gazing upon all the unread books, picking one up and saying to myself, “Oh! I’d forgotten all about this one!! I really want to read it!” That’s what it’s all about to be a book lover, don’t you think?

    And I’m happy to see that you settled on Affinity. I’ve read one book by Waters and have several others in my stacks. I really, really want to read her other books. I’m not going to say I’m moving one to my stacks, because that would add pressure to read it right away. However, I will tuck it away in the back of my mind for a future read and hopefully will stumble upon it sooner than later.

    Oh, and every so often, I have my husband randomly pick a book from my shelves. It’s kind of fun to see what he picks (and to ask why). :)

  27. I’ve been reading almost exclusively from the library for the last year. This narrows my choices down to about 30 (no limit at my library!). I never have to worry about what to read next tho, since I almost always have 2 or 3 or 4 books that I’m actively reading at one time. (One in my bag, one at the computer, at least one in my “office”, one on the phone.) I never have a point where I’m not reading *something* and it seems just natural to me to start other books at the same time.

  28. I look at all the books you’ve read/recommended! Ha! No, but really, I do. And then I see if any match up with some I’ve heard about elsewhere and then, viola! Except for right now I am in a book club, so that is how my books are getting selected. And one book a month is about all I can manage these days. This month we are reading Drowning Ruth.