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Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Books I'll Never Read

There's a fantastic line in Stephen Sondheim's Follies that particularly attracts me as a reader. Benjamin Stone is lamenting the fact that life only permits so much in 'The Road You Didn't Take' and he asks:

"The books I'll never read wouldn't change a thing, would they?"

It's not exactly a fear of mine, that I'll miss a book that could potentially change something in my life. While I believe that books can be profound, I think there has to be something in the reader already open to the possibilities contained within them. Maybe that's even demonstrated by picking up that particular book in the first place. Nevertheless, I do worry that I'll miss something by not reading a book. But with so many books in the world, how do I prioritise? I suppose I have to decide what I want to read and follow that rather crooked path to reading satisfaction.

  • I like classics and there are plenty of them that I have yet to read. I'm currently working my way through Bleak House and thoroughly enjoying it. Any 'reading schedule' in the future will have to include a liberal sprinkling of classic novels.
  • Since I'm currently writing lesbian fiction I should read as much that's out there as possible. I may have to categorise within though and find stories I'm really interested in.
  • I'm a big fan of historical fiction, primarily set in the Victorian era but I'm open to anything as long as it's well-written. Anyway, I'll have to prioritise here as well. There are readers whose judgement I trust and whose tastes are close to my own. I may have to rely on them for recommendations and hope I don't hit too many duds.
  • I'm always cautious when it comes to memoirs and biographies. Occasionally, it feels like too much hard work to decipher how much of it is actually correct. Sometimes I even give myself a headache by debating whether I need to know it's correct! Nevertheless, there are some good ones out there and I hope to read some of them.
Of course, books don't always fall into these neat categories and I often come across books I want to read but can't justify to myself why I should read that book and not the one over there that I've already told myself I want to read. But I honestly can't read everything. So time for some prioritising. After all, the books I'll never read wouldn't change my life...would they? 


Debbie said...

I think about all those books kept from public few in private libraries, or lost books waiting to be discovered. I'm thinking on the lines of the dead sea scrolls. They certainly changed people's lives, or at least their perspective.

CharmedLassie said...

Yeah, I suppose books hold far more possibilities in situations where they're forbidden. When a religion bans a book, for instance, it's usually because it's profound in a way they don't appreciate. Fortunately, I'm proud to live in a country that isn't as censorial as some others I can mention.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for some guidance on what lesbian fiction is worth reading, can I suggest my site, the Lesbrary? Also, Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Jeanette Winterson are essential.

CharmedLassie said...

I've just taken a look and I'm overwhelmed with the amount of content and links over there. Added to bookmarks and I look forward to wading through it all in time. Certainly solves my problem, thank you.

(Oh, and I'm a big fan of Donoghue and Waters. I struggle with Winterson a little bit to be honest.)