Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Written Word Wednesday - The Plan

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I have been in a reading mood recently, which is nice, since I went for several months without reading much of anything. Last night I finished Memories of Ice, the third book in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series; as Wrath teh Berzerkr had predicted, it was my favorite book of the series so far. I won't do a full-blown review of it, since I don't want to give anything away to people who haven't read the first couple of installments, but I will say that this is one of the best fantasy series I've read in a while. The next volume, House of Chains, hasn't come in for me at the public library yet, but even if it had, I wouldn't be reading it next. Not because I don't want to read it, but because that would interfere with The Plan.

The purpose of The Plan is to make sure that I don't burn out on reading and go another 6 months without reading anything novel-length; whether The Plan will effectively combat this or not, only time will tell, but I think it will, at the least, prolong the reading mood I'm currently in. The Plan is pretty simple: variety. As most of you blog monkeys should know by now, I can get a tad bit obsessive at times, which is why I have to be careful before starting to watch a TV series on DVD since my urge will be to watch an entire season in one sitting, such as with my John from Cincinnati marathon a few weekends ago. This obsessive completist tendency applies to my reading habits as well, especially when I've discovered a new series; I tend to get all of the books I can and read them all at once. A few years back, I extended this tendency to particular authors, compiling a list of all of their works and then methodically working my way through them in chronological order before the burn-out set in about a third of the way through the works of Charles de Lint, and I never have gone back.

I've recently come to suspect that this overload of a particular author could be what's lead to my weakening desire to read; no matter how much I may love a writer's work, after reading several thousand pages of their words, its only natural let a little bit of fatigue would set in. And, no, it doesn't happen every time I read a series in one fell swoop, but it has happened enough times in the last few years to give me pause.

And so, I now have The Plan, which is to avoid reading two books by the same author in a row. Which might seem like a pretty simple idea, but when you're caught up in the midst of a series, and the last book you read ends on a bit of a cliff-hangers or has introduced new mysteries that you're dying to know the answers to, well, it can be difficult to hold off on diving into the next one.

In addition to spacing out works by a particular author, I'm also going to try to space out different genres as well. So, even though I just picked up the final book in Greg Keyes Kingdom of Thorn and Bone series and am pretty keen on reading it soon, I have instead decided to read Upton Sinclair's Oil! -- the novel which inspired There Will Be Blood -- next instead, to sort of cleanse the mental palate. An upshot of this is that it will help force me to broaden my reading horizons some, and not just stick to SF and Fantasy.

I also plan to do a better job of posting about what I'm reading, even if it's just a brief "Hey, read this, it was good" note, but you've all heard that before.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the books I'm planning to read, in no particular order; if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to chime in.

The Born Queen by Greg Keyes
Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone by Carol Berg
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel by Susanna Clarke
The House in the High Wood by Jeffrey E. Barlough.

Kiln People by David Brin
Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamilton

Curfew by Phil Rickman
The Long Lost by Ramsey Campbell

Blaze by "Richard Bachman"
The Colorado Kid by Stephen King

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About: A Novel by Mil Millington

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West.


Flunky lover said...

That's an interesting idea. I've had some burnout myself before.

You didn't include any nonfiction. Is there a reason for that?

Cap'n Neurotic said...

I just never have been that drawn to non-fiction in general. Which is not to say that I won't read it, have read some great pieces of non-fiction over the years: Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, this really informative biography of Eva Peron I read back after I saw Evita but whose title and author I can't recall for the life of me . . .

I suppose when it comes to selecting non-fiction, it's much like my selection of fiction materials -- the quirkier and more off-beat, the better.