Keeping Up with the Book World (or not)
For a brief period in 2015 (note when this blog started…), I made the decision to Stay on Top of the Book World. I would read all the books people were buzzing about from award winners to nominees to best sellers to murky basement cult classics. I made a list of Books I was Excited About. Topping it were Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things and Broken Monsters. I went to the book store and got ready to join the party…
And abandoned the party immediately because hard covers are more expensive than soft covers, and I’d conveniently forgotten that.
But the thing is, learning that there was a Book World to keep up with was kind of crushing. I’m a person who’s perpetually behind the trends, and consequently dismissive of them as stupid. Do I really hate skinny leg jeans? No, but if I keep on hating them for just a little longer, the boot cuts and flares I never managed to throw away will come back in style.
Books were supposed to be the things that didn’t let me down. They were the things that hung around, waiting for me to read them instead of begging me to keep up. I could read Newberry winners from the 1950’s or Victorian gothics or trendsetters from the 1980’s, and it didn’t matter that I missed the boat because there wasn’t a boat to miss. Trying to stay on top of New Releases and Best Sellers was participating in a popularity contest I wanted no part of. It was the antithesis of what i wanted out of reading. I wanted an intimate experience between me and the book I was reading. It wasn’t about what everybody else thought; it was about what I thought.
I read Broken Monsters and The Book of Strange New Things a year late. That year didn’t affect my reading experience at all. If anything, the build up for these two sort of made them a let down for me. I like exploring books quietly and coming to them mostly unprepared and open minded. That way, they’re the most magical. And, thanks to the Internet, all the pre-book buzz is still around to dive into. The reviews still exist. In that way, I can get excited in my own time, at my own pace, and books can still feel like a secret to be discovered, instead of a dialog to join.