September 9, 2011

My Infinite To-Read List

At lunch today, a friend was telling me about a book she recently read. She thought some of the book's ideas and the structure might appeal to me, but since she had complaints about other aspects of the story, she was reluctant to endorse it with a real recommendation.

(We have a lot of conversations about books that go this way. It's great having such a long history of discussing our reading habits that we can accurately anticipate each other's tastes.)

(I'm especially lucky in that I have multiple people in my life with this level of book sharing intimacy.)

I listened to her review of the book, agreed that it did sound interesting, and said I'd like to read it at some point, but probably not before everything else I'd like to read at some point. My friend reaffirmed that she didn't rate the book highly enough to put it ahead of all those other books. She's well aquainted with my infinite to-read list.

I write down fewer and fewer of the books that catch my attention these days, which is a good thing, because I learn about books more and more quickly as I expand my consumption of book-related media. (I should post about some of my sources soon, shouldn't I?) My list continues to grow nonetheless.

Mostly what happens with my list is that I'm only reading (and therefore removing) the books that I added within the past few months. This is in part because I make an effort to buy and read some of the new releases I hear about. It's also because I can't find the other end of my to-read list -- it's infinitely far away.

Even the idea of looking through my list to prune and prioritize is daunting. I've been wondering if GoodReads is a useful tool for managing a to-read list, or if it's just a dangerous source of too many more recommendations. I'd appreciate hearing from any readers who can address this topic.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Buzz Poole muses on The Consequences of Writing Without Reading: "How can anyone claim to be interested in writing without being serious about reading?" (Thanks, The Millions!)


Marti said...

I have a large collection of friends at Goodreads, and while I do enjoy reading their comments, reviews and recommendations, it DOES get overwhelming! There's just no way I can read all of those wonderful-sounding books!

Lisa Eckstein said...

That's what I'm afraid of, Marti. I do love the idea of GoodReads, but I'm not sure I have time to participate adequately, or to deal with the consequences of participating!

Karen said...

I'm going to vote "useful".

You can definitely use it to order and prioritize your to-read list, make notes, add tags, and keep track of where the recommendations came from (I should probably start using those features actually; there are a lot of books my to-read list that I don't know what they are or why they're there...). When you look at the book's page it will tell you which of your friends have read it, and show their ratings and reviews before the other reviews.

I don't think you'd get overwhelmed with recommendations unless you go looking for them. Unless you've got a ton of friends with the same taste in literature as you... I guess that could be a problem.... :)

Lisa Eckstein said...

Thanks for weighing in, Karen, since you're one of the more active GoodReads users I know. This is good info. I've been tempted to join GoodReads for a long time, but I wanted to make sure it would be a sensible place to keep my list before I invested the time in setting it up. Now, to find a bit of time to start setting it up!

mamagotcha said...

I second pretty much everything Karen had to say... good for organizing, won't be overwhelming unless you ask for it.

Anna Scott Graham said...

I love keeping a log of what I'm reading, also had to really jog my memory to list all the previous books I've read. As an author, it's a nice spot for PR, but I echo Karen's statement; also a good place to see reviews other than Amazon.

Lisa Eckstein said...

mamagotcha and Anna, thanks for letting me know what you think! I expect I will be joining GoodReads before too long, and I'll look for all of you there!

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