Monday, June 06, 2011

Analyzing the Book Pile

Today is going to be fairly busy, as I have jury duty tomorrow, and that means that all things that must be taken care of this week have to be dealt with today. I figure that will mean that I won't get stuck on a trial that will require me going back the next day. If I've taken care of business for the week and have nothing pressing or urgent that a trial would interfere with, then Murphy's Law and associated corollaries would make my chances of actually ending up on a jury lower. If I've just received copy edits that must be returned that week, then I'm guaranteed to end up on a trial (that did actually happen). I suppose that now that they've raised juror pay for any days after the first show up and wait day, getting on a trial would significantly increase my income for the month, but I find the whole experience so incredibly painful that I'm really hoping to spend most of the day sitting in the central jury room and reading, with maybe one trip to a courtroom to be eliminated from consideration before being sent home early in the afternoon. At least this is civil court, so it's in proper downtown instead of on the scary fringes of downtown, which means I can take the train instead of driving and parking during rush hour, and there are far more lunch options than the courthouse cafeteria. Now I have to decide the best persona to project (what to wear) and what reading material to bring. I've been on a kick of reading children's books, but I don't exactly want to sit in the jury room reading kids' books (plus, I want something nice and long that will last me a while but that isn't hardcover, which eliminates everything from my latest library trip). Looks like it's time to shop the To-Be-Read pile.

After Friday's post about book greed, I did a quick inventory of the To-Be-Read pile, and it was rather revealing. I found three books purchased new at more or less full price (store discounts or coupons may have been involved) that are not autographed or written by a friend (which is a totally separate category) that I haven't yet read. In one case, it was a Target "Bookmarked" book where they're only there for a month, and it sounded interesting and was in a subgenre I was looking into (that has subsequently dried up). I got it home to discover that it was a second book in a linked series (secondary characters from the first book became main characters in the second book), so I ordered the first book online and then HATED it. This book truly made me angry, which diminished my interest in the second book that I'd purchased first. I should probably just get rid of it, but I hate to just get rid of a book I purchased new. Another book is also one I bought for market research purposes because it has an unusual structure similar to something I've been thinking about doing, but then that project got seriously backburnered, so I haven't gotten around to reading that book. Then there was one I bought on the Friday of a holiday weekend with the intent of reading it that weekend. And then things came up so that the weekend was busier than I anticipated and I didn't get around to reading it. A few weeks later, someone gave me the same book as a gift, and it was a rather awkward and uncomfortable situation that I think spilled over to my feelings about the book. I probably could have taken the copy I bought back to the store, but I never got around to it, and now I have two copies I haven't read. I think I'll donate one to the library, and the book is actually on my reading list for the summer. In fact, it might make a good jury duty book.

I have a fair number of autographed books and books by people I know that are unread. I try to support my writer friends by going to their booksignings or buying their books when they first come out (when the publishers are most interested in the sales numbers). That means I'm buying the books on someone else's schedule and not at a time when I really want to read them, and that, strangely enough, tends to shove them into an "out of sight, out of mind" status, where I'm not thinking about how I need to get this book, since I already have it, but that means I forget about the book. A few of these books may never be read because I bought them to be a supportive friend and not so much because they were something I was interested in. I used to try to buy at least the first book by anyone I knew or to go to my friends' booksignings, even if the books weren't something I'd buy otherwise. That policy went by the wayside when I had just too many writer friends to keep up with and when so few of the people I'd supported over the years returned the favor. There are at least three of these books that I have mentally slotted into reading slots for sometime this year.

I don't have too many unread books that I bought at full used price. Even half price these days is something of an investment, and I try to support authors by buying books new. I have one that I'd heard good things about, but I was iffy on the plot, to the point that I hesitated to pay full price for it. I think I bought it during an extra 20 percent off sale at the used bookstore with the idea of giving it a shot without making a major investment. Then I have a few British chick lit books that weren't published in the US. When I find those, I buy them, even if I don't have immediate reading plans for them. I have to be in the right mood to read that sort of thing, but when I am in that mood, nothing else will do, and it's getting harder to find anything I haven't already read in that genre.

Most of my library book sale purchases seem to be classics or "keeper" copies of things I've read from the library. Last year, I bought up a bunch of Dick Francis books to add to my collection. I'd guess I've read about half of my library sale purchases, either before I bought them or since then. I also have a few used bookstore "clearance" shelf books that were the kind of thing where I was willing to give them a shot for a dollar but probably wouldn't have paid full price, but then there are also a few Georgette Heyer reissues in that bunch. That's another thing where when I'm in the mood for it, nothing else will do, so it's good to have them handy for when the mood strikes.

The vast majority of the unread pile is from publisher giveaways and conference goody bags. Most of them are romances, but there are still some SF/fantasy from the Nebula Awards weekend a few years ago. Much of the sf/fantasy wasn't quite to my taste, so I haven't had a burning desire to read those books. I've reached a point where I can only bear a real romance novel when I'm in a particular mood, and those moods are rare. Thus, the hundreds of unread books. Maybe I should start a program of trying to read at least one of these a week, and then if I can't get into it, I'm allowed to throw it either into a donation box for next year's library sale or into the box to take to the used bookstore.

Now off to go do my work for the week. I don't know what my posting schedule for the week will be, depending on what happens with jury duty.

1 comment:

Angie said...

Have you considered using the website PaperbackSwap to get rid of the books you received at conferences that you aren't going to read? It would probably be equivalent to selling them at a used book store and getting another book in exchange.