dealing with my half-read book problem

I just recently wrote about trying to deal with my backlog of bug reports and feature requests. It is not, sad to say, the only backlog of stuff I’ve been meaning, but failing, to do. There’s also my backlog of reading.

my overgrown reading queue

(and that’s only the physical books)

I need to get through these! Lately, I’m only getting any reading done on new books, and I’m buying a lot of new books. Also, my birthday is coming up soon, and my wishlist is full of books. I don’t want to stop wishing for books… I just want to feel like I have a plan to read the books I get!

Too often, I started reading a book, then put it aside to read something else, then never get back to the thing I was reading to start with. No more! Or, at least, not as often anymore! I don’t mind giving up on a book, or even saying, explicitly, that I’ll try again in a year. I just don’t like the idea that I’m putting books aside “for a little while” and then never getting back to them. Perhaps ironically, the book with which I’ve done this the most often is The Magic Mountain, which I’ve been reading off and on since 1997. For that book, I think it is a good plan. For almost any other book I’ve been trying to read, not so much.

So, the new plan is this: I keep big list of all the books I’m really meaning to read. This doesn’t mean everything I own but haven’t read. It’s all the stuff I’ve asked for or purchased in order to read “soon.” It’s not a queue, either, because I’ll pick what to read as I go. Who wants to pick, a year in advance, what book to read around Christmas 2014? Not me, man. Not me.

I categorized each book in the list as either fiction, humanities, or technical. (I was sorely tempted to replace “technical” with “quadrivium” just to keep the tables nicely aligned without spaces, but I resisted.) I will work on no more than one book of each category at a time. When I finish one, I won’t pick its replacement until I feel like it. Once I will either finish reading the replacement or clearly decide to either give up on it or put it away for a good long while, while I read something else.

To start, I picked the most recent story collection I was working on, a nice short technical book, and a thick and difficult book of history that I was really, really enjoying (in a way) when I was making real progress in it.

 Literature: Moon Moth and Other Stories, The
 Technical : Starting Forth
 Humanities: Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

I have no idae whether this plan will work, but I feel like it’s better than continuing along the random non-plan that I’ve been following. I put the big list of book on GitHub along with my previous big list of software libraries. Hopefully keeping them in one place will help me tie them together as “things to keep updated” in my head.

Written on July 6, 2013
🏷 reading