With yet another COVID surge raging, here we are, all hunkered down again.
Ugh. There’s nothing to do!
Yet I’ve never been busier, because instead of panicking over how many shopping days there are until Christmas, I’m contemplating the delicious fact that I have 358 days in which to achieve my reading goal for 2022.
The annual Polloplayer book review begins next week, but before we talk books, let’s talk reading. Of course you know there’s nothing I’d rather do. I secretly hope that heaven looks like this photo I borrowed from Veranda magazine:
But I know not everyone is like me. Some people would rather walk across hot coals than sit down and read a book. If you are one of them, my gift to you is this little piece by Rosie Leizrowice. I have no idea who she is but I liked her recommendations and especially her observation that “Once the true wonder of it sinks into your bones, going a day without reading will become unfathomable.“
“But what should I read”, you ask.
Oh, the places you’ll go with a simple Google search of “book recommendations”. Two of the most popular book web sites are GoodReads (aka Amazon) and LibraryThing. Their algorithms will keep you busy with several lifetimes worth of recommendations.
I like GoodReads especially for charting my reading progress:
But LibraryThing, although a bit more cumbersome as a web site, is great for cataloguing, and once you’ve built up your library there you can click on charts and graphs that reflect your reading tastes and accomplishments. For example, I learned today that my accumulated “reading stack” is somewhere between the height of Notre Dame de Paris and The Great Pyramid!
I was also able to see the distribution of my reading genres:
It’s easy to get in a genre groove – I am highly partial to literary and historical fiction. Sometimes grooves, however, can become ruts. Planning can help us mix it up and explore new genres and even new points of view. Thanks to those pesky algorithms that are the unseen hand in our lives, we tend to only be exposed to the “narrative” we prefer. If yours is espoused by The New York Times, The New Yorker or NPR you’re in luck – their recommendations are widely disseminated and easily accessible. I’ve found great reads from all those sources as well as the lesser known Literary Hub and the absorbing Five Books.
But you’ll have to dig deeper if you have the desire – or the courage – to challenge yourself to a different point of view. The Claremont Review of Books comes to mind, as does The Federalist and The National Review. Personally, I am a fan of the Wall Street Journal’s book reviews, although, like the NYT their content is often paywalled.
I’ve also learned to go straight to the source for book steers – you’d be surprised how many authors are active on Twitter and generous with their recommendations and even their interactions with followers. Erik Larson, Amor Towles and Robert MacFarlane all come to mind.
If you are more inclined to beach reads, and hey, why not, you’ll find plenty of recommendations in People magazine and Vogue. Good Housekeeping magaine does a monthly book club, as Veranda magazine, whose “Sip and Read” book club seems easiest to access from their Instagram account.
And, of course, there’s always the annual and entertaining PopSugar reading challenge:
If PopSugar’s “book you can read in one sitting” appeals, then Insider.com just happens to have made a list for you:
My personal challenge is not yet finalized, but so far I have the following on my list:
Read a book on finance…Read a Shakespeare play…Read one book each by the following authors: Charles Dickens, James Michener, Nancy Mitford, John McPhee and Evelyn Waugh. And, as ever, whittle down a little further that Modern Library 100 list. I’m also toying with choosing some reads geographically – GoodReads has “groups” including one entitled “Around the World in 80 Books” from which perhaps I can glean a read about a far-flung place or time.
And, of course, I remain ever hopeful that friends and relatives will continue to bestow books upon me throughout the year. There’s still one empty bookshelf in the house – we can just tell The Countess to move over:-)