I’m not talking about anything dark or sinister… just something that is self-frustrating. On the surface, it doesn’t even sound so bad, really. It is this: I like to save the best for last.
This is something I learned at a young age, as a dessert loving foodie. If you save the best bit until last, you don’t have the memory of that taste marred by something lesser.
Unfortunately, though, I don’t always leave this philosophy to food, and it makes much less sense in most other forms. For example: books. Every book lover knows that as readers, we work on a sort of hierarchy and that hierarchy looks more or less something like the following:
- Books I have to read right now
- Books I want to read
- Books I should want to read
- Books I want to want to read (You know what I’m talking about. “Why don’t I want to read this?”)
- Books I have to read (Okay, maybe this is just in school)
- Books I don’t particularly care to read but that everyone else are reading that I don’t want to be behind on
You all have a hierarchy something like that, yes? Is that just me?
Anyhow. I have, many times, kept books from my favorite series or by my favorite authors in reserve after books of a lower order, as a sort of “treat.” In fact, this started out in school when I had to read books. I would read a “fun” book alongside it and allow myself the pleasure of something I wanted out of the fiction world after reading a chapter or two of what I was supposed to be reading. Somewhere along the path, it morphed into me reading something I sort of wanted to read alongside the book that I really wanted to read, so that I got both books done.
And then it flipped into something I can’t really explain… me keeping books by beloved authors beholden in some sort of guilty way, because I had so many other books that I hadn’t read yet, so I felt as if I didn’t deserve to read the newer books that I really wanted to read. Yes, I became a reader weighed down by her (unspeakably huge) to be read shelf. I was getting to the point where I was barely reading anything. The last handful of years I have read fewer books than ever before in a year, just passing twenty last year.
Just recently I decided this sort of practice was, in a word, ridiculous. It has led to me both being behind the times on books and authors I care about, and has dragged down the enjoyment of reading anything less than stellar. Not even that. Anything that had less than a stellar expectation point for me. Meaning I was stopping myself from discovering new book and author loves that really were stellar.
Last year, my goal was to read something more challenging. I picked up Bleak House by Charles Dickens, but I am a faithless lover when it comes to books, so I also picked up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Suzanne Clarke, and The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky… and I overwhelmed myself. I’m pressing pause on two of the three, because I am still, yes STILL in the middle of all three of them. I’m some three-fifths done with Bleak House and honestly enjoying it, I just cannot read Dickens fast and enjoy it.
So this year I am going through my books and I am reading first and foremost the unread books I have by authors that I love, like Maggie Stiefvater and Jasper Fforde and series that I really enjoyed the beginning of like Colleen Houck’s Tiger’s Curse, and anything else that I’ve been eyeing. I will still keep Dickens by my side for glances when I feel like it, but I’m not pressuring myself when it comes to reading things I don’t particularly care to this year. Maybe next year I will feel differently, but that is to remain to be seen. For now, I’ve finished one book I’d been dying to read for an age (The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, more on that later), and am looking forward to more.
Do your reading habits change? Do you ever find yourself resenting the book you’re reading, because you want to be reading something else?