“So many books, so little time.” –Frank Zappa
Never has this little nugget of wisdom rang truer with me than now. Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance is sitting less than a quarter read on my bedside table nearly a month after I started it–school and other commitments have only left room for about a chapter a night. No less than eight books are sitting on my shelves waiting to be read. I’m in the midst of reading The Mortal Instruments series and the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. And every day I get loads of book reviews delivered to my inbox so I can add another book to the ever-expanding list of volumes To-Be-Read.
It’s somewhat masochistic.
I spend a good amount of time trying to organize my reading life. What would be the benefits of reading this book before that one? Should I put aside the books already in my possession to pick up a newer, shinier release? Should I spend by extra time reading (“honing my craft” is my excuse) or actually writing? To top it off, I’ve started experiencing something I call Reader’s Guilt. It comes to me in under various guises:
- Haven’t-Read-That Guilt. This is experiencing guilt over having not read classics like, in my case, Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia, Don Quixote, or anything by H.G. Wells. I feel I should take a break from keeping up with the new stuff and try to build up my reader’s repertoire a bit more.
- Leaving-a-Series Guilt. I’m experiencing this version of Reader’s Guilt at the moment with the Heroes of Olympus series, one of the various derivatives of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.I haven’t read The Son of Neptune and don’t intend to. This type of guilt can also be associated with leaving a once-beloved author; for example, I haven’t read anything by Brandon Mull since his Fablehaven series concluded.
- Why-Did-I-Buy-It Guilt. Have you ever bought a book and just let it sit there for more than six months? Yup. That pretty much sums up this one. One feels that if a book has been purchased, one is obligated to read it at some point.
- And, finally– Not-Reading-Enough Guilt. Maybe if I just didn’t check my email in the morning, or spent less time making lunch, I could fit in ten minutes of reading in the morning? Or maybe I could bring my book to school and read in between classes…this is that feeling that tries to guilt-trip you into spending more time reading when you’re already bending your schedule to fit in that daily half-hour.
What about you, readers–how do handle your extensive reading lists? Do you experience any forms of Reader’s Guilt, or am I alone in my suffering?