Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Bookshelves. Let Me Show You Them - Alison Kent

I own a lot of books. A lot. I don't know how many exactly, but the number runs into the hundreds. It could be the thousands. And most of these are books I've never read. I rarely keep ones I have. I have a small keeper shelf (and only for sentimental value) because I don't reread. I know. Heresy. But once I know how a story plays out and there's no longer any surprise, I don't want to revisit the characters.

Part of my not rereading is because I have too many new books waiting for me. Another part is that I don't want my writer's eye to ruin the memory of a book I loved. Trust me. It happens. And this is why I primarily read thrillers. I don't write thrillers, so I go into those books strictly as a reader. I don't mentally rewrite things my way as I do when reading romance.

That doesn't mean I don't have auto-buy authors in every genre. Well, pretty much every genre. I buy the literary works of Dennis Lehane, Ann Packer and Lisa Tucker having heard nothing but that they have a new release. I buy the historical romances of Laura Kinsale and Judith Ivory and Penelope Williamson without knowing a thing about their books.

Arianna Franklin and Elizabeth Chadwick write amazing historical (non-romance) novels. I can't say I buy any horror authors, and I don't read much paranormal beyond Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series, but I buy women's fiction by Barbara O'Neal (Samuel), Patricia Gaffney and Jodi Picoult without looking. My contemporary romance auto-buys are Deborah Smith, Kristan Higgins, Robyn Carr; there are no doubt more I'm blanking on.Thrillers, though. Don't get me started. Chelsea Cain, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Connelly, Greg Rucka, Greg Iles, Tami Hoag, Robert Gregory Browne, Harlan Coben. The list goes on. And, yes, I read Dan Brown. I read him before he was a household name.

Did I mention my favorite format is hardcover? Ouch!

What's the weirdest thing about my book addiction? I don't always scarf down what comes in the mail (because I buy everything online). I'm a hoarder, saving my favorites for rainy days. I want to know I have a whole shelf of Robyn Carr to curl up with; I've been saving the last three of her Virgin River books. I want to read them this fall. I have to make sure I have nothing on my schedule when I sit down with Tess Gerritsen for a day, but when do I never have nothing on my schedule? And the new Barbara O'Neal coming out at the end of the year? I can't wait.

My problem comes when I buy because I see a blogger or reviewer raving about a book and I follow like a lemming without thinking about my own tastes and habits. This is where the author's Website is the best selling tool in the world. When I'm smart and not a lemming, I visit the site and read the excerpt. I know within a few pages if the writing is going to work for me.

And that's a big one. If I don't connect with the voice, no story in the world will hook me. So what happens when I visit an author's site and she has buying information, a cover and blurb, but no excerpt? No excerpt = no sale because I'm all about instant gratification. I may try and remember the title and check it out should I go into a bookstore, but more than likely, the buzz isn't going to result in a sale if the author doesn't give me a taste online.

Anyone else buy more than they’ll ever be able to read in a lifetime?



Jill said...

Not only have I bought more than I can read in a lifetime, my parents have bought more books than they can read in a lifetime. They actually have a separate storage unit of books.
But what do we do when we get together? Go to the bookstore and buy more books! We're going to drown in them some day.
It's a disease. :-)
I'm trying to get better, working through my TBR pile and getting more books from the library. I'm also forcing myself to donate or give away a book every time I want to get a new one. But Christmas is coming up and everyone knows what my favorite present is . . .

Mint said...

I have quite a few books I haven't read yet but I haven't bought as many new ones lately for financial reasons so I'm getting my TBR pile down considerably.

Linda Henderson

Emmanuelle said...

I sooooo understand wghat you mean Alison. I love books, I love HAVING books. Knowing I have several books ready to be devoured anytime is very comforting, like having my fridge totally full. I keep buying books even if my TBR pile is already overflowing.
I do re-readea my books, though. Not all of them but I have a special keeper shelf full of my comfort reads.

Anonymous said...

But Alison, there are bennies to being a lemming.

Sometimes you find amazing books that you might not have cracked open otherwise.

I'm mostly not a rereader too though. The corollary to most books not being worth reading is that even fewer books are worth rereading. Since I buy ebooks, the problem just sort of follows me everywhere.

Kwana said...

I buy way too many book than I can read and thank to writers conferences I pick up way too many book than I can ever read. And I can't get rid of them. So sad. I feel I will somehow have the time to read them all. Head shakes. I love books. It's a problem.

Mari said...

I have WAYYYY too many books. Actuslly I am at the point where I have to avoid driving past Barnes and Nobles or I will give in to weakness!

Catharine said...

I prefer hardcover. I like to be able to hold something substantial in my hands and having a 4 year old who likes books, herself, necessitates the hardcover addiction... Ok, really I just like them because they're pretty and they're MINE. I have about 200(ish?) books at home, both in hardcover and in paperback. I've read about 85% of those, and fully intend to read the rest (if I ever get another free moment in my life). And believe it or not, I've re-read 100% of those 85%... sometimes two, three, or four times!

My job is one where there's a lot of down time, so I get desperately bored, and have been known to get up and walk around, write a story, or dance in my office to alleviate the boredom. Even though I am this hopelessly bored at work, I am NOT allowed to bring in a book (something about looking unprofessional - and yet the dancing is allowed...) So, because I have a full time job, I'm a full time Mommy, a full time student and a full time girlfriend/"wife", I rarely have time to sit down with a good book. That in and of itself makes me sad.

But a while ago, a friend introduced me to the wonders of eBooks. I'd listened to several audiobooks (and still do almost every day, since my job is one where they encourage you to bring your iPod in), but never thought about eBooks. I fell instantly and totally in LOVE.

I now have over 1,500 eBooks in my collection and I know in my heart of hearts there's NO WAY I'll ever be able to read them all - mostly because I continue to add to my collection almost daily.

I have each book that I download catalogued in a spreadsheet that is alphebetized by author. When I read the book, I change the font to strikethrough. Still, even as I cross one off the list, I typically add 3-5 more onto it. No, I'll never finish my TBR list. But that's ok... because it means that I'll always be reading! :)

Mary said...

I don't think I buy more than I can read in a lifetime. I have three bookshelves full that are my "keepers" and I get at least 60 books a month from the local library to read. I also give alot of the books I buy to my mom and one of the neighbors that loves to read as much as I do. So I actually read through the books faster than I can buy them.