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Newer Isn’t Always Better, or Worse, When it Comes to Books

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Newer isn't always better or worseI talked recently about how I’m abandoning a lot of good books, and I’ve been trying to figure out why the percentage is so high. I’ve come up with a few possibilities:

Casting the net a little too wide.When your usual fare is YA, children’s books/classics, and junk food reads, a sudden diet of literary fiction might not be the best choice. I’ve always been more of a genre girl – mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, romance, and classics are more my style.

Reading too fast. Deciding to blog about books bumped up both the quality and quantity of my reading. Good fiction deserves to be savored, and maybe rushing through it stops me from really digging in to the characters and settings. Would I like these people better if I wasn’t in such a hurry?

Choosing too many “new” books. Recently on Modern Mrs. Darcy, she talked about advice she received in college: read books that are at least 30 years old. I get this. Older books have stood the test of time. Someone is publishing them or checking them out at the library, which means someone is reading them. Bad books generally go away after a while – though not always.

The problem is, I don’t want to give up new books.

For one thing, I’ve found some beautiful roses in the thorns. Unforgettable characters, settings so real I can see them, intricate plots. Some of the books I’ve read this month have already been added to my re-read list, and I’m on the waiting list for those authors’ new books.

For another, new books are written by a wider group of people, offer a wider perspective on life, and generally portray history, ethnicity, and gender more accurately than old books.

Also, I’m a writer. If everyone gives up new books, I won’t have a (potential) job! I want to give other writers the chance I hope someone will take on me.

But I still don’t want to waste my time on books that I don’t engage with, so I’ve come up with a plan:

Give the first few chapters of each book my full attention. I have multiple books going at any one time, and I like it that way. By having audio books on my phone and tablet and (stacks of) real books in every room, and my purse, and the car, there’s always something to grab my attention. When I start a book, though, I’m going to keep it in my evening read pile so it gets some uninterrupted time.

Use my Book Psychic powers more often when choosing books, which means spending more time at the library. Recently I’ve been running in to pick up my reserves instead of wandering the shelves. It’s time to reverse that trend.

Find a few more sources of book recommendations that I trust. Any suggestions?

Continue abandoning books. Life is way too short to waste it on lives I don’t want to live.

Speaking of new/old books, I’m finally jumping on the Outlander bandwagon. I read the first book when it originally came out, and I remember it well, but had no interest in continuing. My mother says I have to at least finish the second book before I decide. We’ll see…

On a completely different note, I was reminded yesterday how much I love the word penultimate. It sounds so much better than next to last, doesn’t it? Or is it just the Anglophile in me coming out?

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