Wednesday, March 20, 2024

On my mind: reading older books


My To Be Read pile is on my mind. It’s gotten so big that I get choice paralysis when I’m trying to pick a book to read next. I decided to try to prioritize working in books that were published a multiple of ten years ago.

Why? As a reader, it’s easy to get caught up in the constant new release cycle. Physical bookstores have limited capacity, and they want to move books as fast as possible. The best way for them to do this is to stock new books as they come out (which I’m less likely to have bought already) and bestsellers. I often have difficulty finding a book that’s new-to-me on the shelves that’s more than a few years old at a bookstore that only sells new books. Additionally, marketing algorithms prioritize new books (again, because I’m less likely to have read them) when I’m browsing the web.

So I’m making an effort to find and read older books that I didn’t know about. I’m not much for nostalgia, but I am interested in what novels looked like ten, twenty, thirty years ago. I want to know what’s changed in writing conventions and what I can learn from that.

So far this year, I’ve read The Charmed Sphere (2004) by Catherine Asaro, and Undercity (2014), also by Asaro. They are very different books: different genre, different point-of-view, different issues tackled, and I’m glad I read both of them. Next up is Joan Vinge's World's End, published in 1984.

If anyone wants to join me in this activity but doesn't know where to start, ten-year-old books by authors on this blog include The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy and Nightmare Ink by Marcella Burnard. 

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