Paradox of Choice

 JT Ellison

I have a dilemma.

Thankfully, it is neither life threatening, nor particularly important. It’s really rather silly, truth be told. But it is a dilemma nonetheless, one that’s bothering me tremendously.

I have bought a ridiculous number of books over the past couple of years. Books of all shapes and sizes. Books that cover the spectrum of topics: crime fiction to theology, historical fiction to fantasy, productivity to ancient Roman wars. I’ve bought so many that my buying to reading ratio is in excess of about 20:1. And that’s being generous to the 1.

I have accumulated quite a beautiful library. It spills into four rooms. And that TBR pile, the one that I used to have panic attacks if it dropped below ten books, now numbers in the hundreds. So many that we were forced to buy three large floor-to-ceiling bookcases to hold them all. We jokingly call it the Ellison Family Lending Library. The term is more than applicable.

With so many books to choose from, I’ve suddenly lost the ability to make a choice. It’s like walking into a bookstore on any given Tuesday and being overwhelmed with the sheer numbers of books on the shelves. So many times, I end up buying something on coop or a wall because it’s face out. It’s easier. I take chances on new to me authors all the time, but it gets too distracting to wander the stacks (and disconcerting, now that I know so many of the people I read. Every time a familiar name comes up, up pops the last conversation we had, or the realization that it’s been too long since we’ve been in touch, or…)

You get the idea.

I’ve lost the love of browsing.

When I started writing, there was something like 170,000 books published per year. Now that number has doubled, what with digital and self-published books on top of the slew of traditionally published novels. (And they say reading is dead. I beg to differ.)

New books that I want to read are thrown at me daily. Blogs, magazines, Facebook, Twitter – I’m constantly finding material I must have. It’s gotten to the point that I find myself loading the bookshelves (which are now overflowing, the non-fiction double stacked and the fiction forced into face-out coop) and promising myself I WILL NOT BUY ANY MORE UNTIL I FINISH ALL THE BOOKS ON THE SHELVES.

So we’ve established I have a book fetish. Okay then. Here’s where you come in.

It’s gotten so bad that I don’t know where to start. With names I know and trust? Alphabetically, starting with the As and working my way through? Or should I start at the end and work backwards? Next in series? New to me? Fiction? Non-fiction?

(Ahhhhhhhhh – screw it. I’ll just reread Harry Potter.)

Told you this was a ridiculous problem.

I told Randy of my predicament, and he said “Paradox of Choice.”

“Huh?” I asked.

“There’s a marketing concept called the Paradox of Choice.”

Then he went on, using small words so I could follow. Sometimes, his marketing stuff, especially the complications of statistical sampling, are well beyond my tender abilities. But this, this I understood immediately.

At it’s most basic, here’s the definition of the paradox if choice: if consumers have too many choices, they’ll either get confused and pass on making a decision, or will revert to brands that they recognize. Say you’re going to the bookstore, and you’re assailed (as I often am) with a plethora of choices. Too many choices. You see a James Patterson novel, and seize on it. You recognize the name—you’ve read his books before, you were satisfied, so you buy that. No searching, no discovery. Just a mindless choice. An easy choice. Because who has the time to put into making a decision anymore?

This is me. This is my dilemma. I have too many options, so I’m just not bothering and returning to the books I know will transport me, instead of taking a chance on something new.

Turns out there’s a lot more to this. A guy named Barry Schwartz wrote a whole book entitled PARADOX OF CHOICE: Why More Is Less. Here’s a great quote from the book that sums it all up pretty well:

 

Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well-being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.

 

Choice.

When I look at that quote, my life comes into sharp focus. Over the past year, I’ve been minimizing. Getting rid of the excess. Unitasking as much as possible. Trying to enjoy life, a moment at a time, rather than rushing forward into my future. We’ve given away half of our household.

We’ve cut our expenses, too. We only buy things that we need, and when we do buy something, it must replace an older version of itself. New shoes? Sure, but I have to get rid of at least two pairs first. iPad? As cool as it would be to have (and trust me, I LUST after it) I got a Nook instead. Cheaper, does what I need it to do, and gives me great pleasure, and no possibility of eye strain! iPhone 4.0? Absolute necessity – when my iPhone 3G dies or the Verizon rumors come true.

(Note on that last, I’m trying, very hard. I may cave, we’ll see. But why buy a new phone when mine is working fine??? )

We have been actively practicing the less is more mentality, so I find it ironic that I’m suffering from more is less with my reading material.

I long for the days when my reading order was determined by when the book was due back to the library. It was so simple. Or the days when I would not leave a book unfinished. I must have eight books lying around that I’ve started and lost interest in, or ran out of time, or simply couldn’t get into and put back on the shelf for another day. And that’s just in the living room.

So I ask you, if you had hundreds to choose from, and you were becoming paralyzed by your ability to actually commit and finish a book, where would you begin? Any and all coping mechanisms are welcome.

Wine of the Week: Heredad Ugarte Crianza 2005 Inexpensive and lovely.

 

46 thoughts on “Paradox of Choice

  1. Mark Terry

    I linked to this post on my blog. I can’t help but think of the coming deluge of self-published e-book titles. I’m not sure it’s new–there are certainly more books out there than I can choose from, but still…

    Reply
  2. J.D. Rhoades

    Hi, my names is Dusty, and I’m a bookaholic.

    I too, have an out of control TBR pile and book collection. But I think it was Thomas Jefferson who, upon being asked if he’s really read all the books in his extensive library, looked puzzled and said "what use is a library full of books you’ve already read?"

    As for choosing: my choice is often determined by what I’m in the mood for, which can often be very specific. "I feel like some British police procedural, and look, here’s a Peter Robinson I haven’t read." Or "I want some galaxy spanning Space Opera…ah, yes, the Peter F. Hamilton that’s been gathering dust since I got it from the SF book club." Failing that, I just grab something at random. Randomness often yields delights.

    Finishing stuff, now…that’s still a problem.

    Reply
  3. Barbie

    JT, I completely understand your situation. I find myself in the same place. Usually, I go for authors I know and trust. Of course, they have backlists, so, that gives me a lot to choose from, even between them. Then, lately I’ve been so overwhelmed and just tired and sick of everything, I’ve been going to cute and fluffy romances over my dark, blood and guts usual thrillers.

    I want to read new authors. I DO! I want to love their books and have one more author to call "mine". I want to discover new worlds and everything, but it just seems too much emotional involving. You know, getting to know new characters groups (I’m thinking series here), getting use to their surroundings, actually loving them. I don’t have much "emotional" to give away right now.

    You, JT Ellison, has been in my TBR pile for a while now. It’s there. I’ll get to your books. I WILL. When I can spare myself and my heart again. When I’m ready… I’m thinking you understand what I mean πŸ™‚

    Reply
  4. billie

    Create a space by the place where you tend to do most of your reading, pick 5 or so books from the million or so, at random, and then put those 5 in your special, miniature, To Be Read Pile.

    When you finish one, or decide not to finish it, replace it with another random choice.

    πŸ™‚

    My new policy is that when I read a book now, I make the decision whether it is a keeper or one that needs to be passed on to someone else. There is no more room here and I don’t want more bookshelves – so I’m forcing myself to read and clear out. The keepers get to live on the shelves.

    I am completely reversing my previously stated policy that I would never move to a Kindle or other digital device – it’s entirely possible that within this year, I will read everything on Kindle first and then only buy the hard copies of a few I love.

    I still feel the same way about books in hand, but what I didn’t allow for was my growing need to rid my home of stuff I am not actively using. The need to simplify gets more intense with each month that passes.

    Reply
  5. Martyn Lewis

    I suffer from the same problem, recently I’ve been asked to suggest a book of the month for an online forum i’m a member of. It’s been two weeks and I still can’t decide. Do I go for a book that I liked or do I go for one that made me think or altered my outlook on life? Do I go for a crime book or a thriller? Argh too many choices.

    It turns out I’m book rich but time poor

    Reply
  6. PK the Bookeemonster

    I think you will find in this company you are definitely not odd man out. I have this dilemma as well. My worst offenses were library sales and bringing dozens of books in the house. Last year, while I was unemployed, I took on the task of alphabetizing my hundreds of books and I firmly had the rule that if I didn’t think I would realistically ever get to it, the book couldn’t stay. The good news: I’m down to hundreds (still) but it is a TBR that I really really intend to read. And I did get rid of tons of books.
    As to choosing what’s to read next. I utilize both mood and method. I’m working my way through the series of several authors so each month — or every other month — I read one of their books (right now a lot of historical mysteries). But new releases that interest me take precedence.
    JT, you’re a highly organized and disciplined person, I think, but really read only what you want to read, no one is judging you. Or you can throw a dart at the pile and that’s the next one. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  7. Neil Nyren

    Well, JT, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve got whacking great piles of books around the house, because I buy a lot and I get a lot free. The way I choose what to read next? Sometimes it’s a book that I’ve been particularly waiting for, so that’s easy, but otherwise: It doesn’t matter.

    Dive into any one of them. Pick it at random. The TBR books I have are because they’re from favorite authors or new people I’ve heard good things about or on subjects that interest me, so the odds are pretty high that I’ll have a good time with it. It’s probably the same for you. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it? You don’t have to "choose." You just have to read

    Reply
  8. Cornelia Read

    I’m with BIllie here, JT. And Neil. And I wish I had so many books to choose from, right now. There’s only one thing in the house I haven’t read, except for three manuscripts awaiting my lbrubing attention…

    Reply
  9. Colette

    Oh I have this problem too! I keep finding more and more that I MUST read. Part of the problem is there is just too much information. Every time someone writes about a book they liked I think I need to read it too. And the list just grows. I cleaned up the bookshelves a year ago and now the books are spilling over again. My advice — don’t buy any more (especially now that you have the nook). Close your eyes and pick one to read. Then focus on just that one until you are done.

    Reply
  10. anonymous

    Martyn, pick a crime thriller that you liked because it made you think and also altered your outlook on life. That should narrow it down.

    Reply
  11. Chuck

    Hey JT! Looks like you’ve touched on a common problem. And no wonder I cannot find a publisher. For the few who know I write, when I explain why I’m not yet published, I will from now on utter, "Meh, it’s the frigging paradox of choice hosing me again." πŸ™‚

    I prioritize my books. Like you, I’m swimming in them. But one bookshelf sits across from my writing chair. It’s the so-called on-deck circle of my reading material. The books that sit there are in order (unless my kids do some rearranging!), ready for me to feast my beady eyes on them. But if someone piques my interest enough, I will often slide a book to the front of the pile.

    Not a groundbreaking system by any means, but it works. Occasionally, usually when I’m traveling a great deal, my heavy reading will clean off the shelf and I can then ransack the "slush pile" of books to start a new reading order.

    The on-deck circle is currently about ten books deep.

    I hope all is well in your world!

    Best,

    Chuck

    Reply
  12. Louise Ure

    Ah, this is our embarrassment of riches. I’m with Neil. Pick anything, just read.

    There were a couple of years that I had so much reading to do for judging panels that I knew those were the only books I’d be able to get to. My selection process? Pick the thickest book first. It would leave the biggest hole on the shelf when I was done.

    Reply
  13. Judy Wirzberger

    There must have been something in that banana nut loaf I ate — or was it a brownie. I’m laughing my way through these comments from beginning to end.

    Dusty! Where do you find the meetings – many of us need to go.

    Louise! It only makes sense if you’re trying to reduce the inches in the TBR pile.

    JT. You might want to hire a retired librarian and start a lending library.

    I like to give my "gently read" books another life in someone else’s house. I kept keeping books I loved and never read them. So now I only keep those fiction books signed by authors I know.
    My daughter, however, still has college textbooks. Oops. Sorry. Didn’t know you do too.
    (How’s Nashville doing?) — There are going to be lots of people who lost their books and may need to share yours.

    Reply
  14. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Like you, I have thousands of books in the house, dripping off every surface like a Dali painting. And we had this amazing built-in bookshelf created – it rises nine feet and covers two long walls. It’s design is interesting, with large areas for large books and small areas for mass market paperbacks. What I didn’t consider was how I could manage to alphabetize my collection when the books are different sizes. And so, these thousands of books are not alphabetized. Which means that, when I’m looking for a certain book, I have to look through the ENTIRE COLLECTION to find it.
    And I’ve come to love the process. It makes me take time out to wander, to read every single spine in my search for the book I THOUGHT I was going to read. And then I end up pulling out two or three books that I just must read, or read again. I get lost in the process, it becomes my "meditation" time.
    Through this process I recently blew off my TBR pile and picked up Ayn Rand’s "The Fountainhead" again. I’ve read it only once before, and that was twenty years ago. I’m in the middle of it again, and I don’t want to be anywhere else. It’s one of my very favorite books of all time. There are so many other books I "need" to be reading. But none more so than the book I found again, or all those books I used to read before I was published. The books that inspired me to write to begin with.
    I haven’t experienced the Paradox of Choice yet, thank God.

    Reply
  15. Jake Nantz

    JT – I have my wife to thank for my creative cure. She has decreed that we can neither afford or have space for anymore hardcovers (to be fair, she’s so totally right, and so totally smarter than me). So, in order to help my friends like you guys who are published, I stopped buying hardcovers (counterintuitive, I know, but just follow me here). The stuff we read together (mostly Y.A. stuff we can both get into…Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, etc.) we get from the library, because the more books are requested, the more the library buys (so we’re still helping authors).

    Instead, I buy the mmpb’s that I can, and I read through them, then I place them in the personal "lending library" at the back of my room at school. I’ve gotten several of my students hooked on JT, and Konrath, and Zoe, and Sara Paretsky, and Dusty, just by letting them borrow (or keep) and read one of the books I have back there. So my suggestion to you, JT, is just to grab one and start reading, and then finish and grab another. Like someone above said, randomness can yield some pretty cool reads too.

    Reply
  16. MJ

    I have the same issue. When I’m bored or unhappy at the law firm, I get the itch to order books that I’d enjoy. Well, I was apparently VERY unhappy over the last few years because I still have a mountain around.

    Sometimes I’m so paralyzed that I just read magazines. Other times one book will speak to me, I’ll pick it up, tear through it, and then grab another. Other times (hello, Cryptonomicon) I just can’t get past the first 100 pages….

    Then, annually, I donate a few paper shopping bags worth to the local library for their fundraiser. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to make much of a dent in the mountains….

    Reply
  17. anonymous

    Like you Stephen, I have long walls of built in book shelving. I did design the bottom shelves for the oversized art books and such but I measured my largest hardback novel for the rest of the shelves and they accommodate most books. All fiction is alphabetized by author but the rest of the library is Dewey victimized. This last month or so I have been in the process of reorganizing the whole mess to be able to introduce the waiting piles of new books on the floor I have been too lazy to shelve. The very top shelves, where I had my collection of my father’s pottery and turned wood bowls (he was an artist AND a doctor) had to be emptied to make room for the additions. Finally got the Humor and Film sections restocked and yesterday I finished with Science, Technology and Medicine. Today I will finish up the Art and Design and History sections. Now. Where the hell am I going to put all of those beautiful pots and bowls? and more puzzling ….when did my father have all that time to create them?!

    I usually have about 5 books that I am reading at any given time. Right now, for instance, I am reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, New Mexican Tinwork 1840-1940, Devil’s Garden, Harvest Home (a 1973 reread by Thomas Tryon), The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan and Managing the Non-Profit Organization by Peter F. Drucker. My TBR books are in built in shelves surrounding my bed which is only about 40 strong, at this point.

    I am like some of you where the browsing and discovering, depending on my mood, holds the fascination. I don’t believe in a methodology for reading. Trying to organize myself to ‘get through’ all of the books I have or would like to have would make me depressed and crazy………well…….more so.

    I would think the only books that ‘need’ reading in some sort of priority or expediency, are as Cornelia mentioned…….the ones you have to blurb.

    Reply
  18. Eika

    My books have outgrown my room and overflowed into the hall, and my parents are threatening to throw them out if I don’t get rid of some. They’ll have the chance, too; I go back to college in September. Bookophiles, unite!

    Even buying used and counting gifts, about half of which are horrible or of no interest to me, I only get about 20 books a year, so I haven’t had this dilemma yet. (not counting textbooks). But I’d either start at a bookshelf and read it all the way through, or the top-right, look at the first three books, decide which I’m most in the mood for and read that. Continue as necessary. Three books isn’t overwhelming.

    Reply
  19. JT Ellison

    Mark, I know. I think the Paradox of Choice will come into play tenfold when that happens.

    Dusty, I needed the Jefferson quote. I feel so much better now.

    Barbie, I’ve taken to watching romantic comedies before bed so I don’t have the nasties in my head, so I totally get where you’re coming from. My buying habits have shifted dramatically lately, to literature and gothic. I can’t read serial killer books anymore.

    A miniature TBR pile – oh, Bllie, I love that! Good solution.

    Martyn – book rich and time poor – exactly my point!!!

    PK, it’s my highly organized mind that’s so unhappy with what feels like utter disarray. Everything is so perfectly alphabetized too.

    Reply
  20. Allison Davis

    My TBR pile is so high if there was an earthquake, it’d bury me. I don’t just buy books for me, I buy books of friends, for them, I give piles of books away (and they keep coming back), I took my dad’s old books when he was going to toss them. I am a book hoarder. I will throw everything else out…

    That being said, I don’t keep the ones I don’t like so much but I have shelves of signed books (many of Rati’s) and I’ll likely keep those…

    What do I read when I’m stressed, can’t decide and need to dive into a book (don’t laugh) — I have a nearly complete collection of vintage Nancy Drew.

    Reply
  21. JT Ellison

    Hi Neil! I was about to write you a note – I’m reading John Sandford’s STORM PREY and am blown away. I think he’s going to get me back in the spirit of things, if you know what I mean.

    I think I’m suffering from the grass is always greener – I save books I know I’ll love, and read ones I think I’ll like, while wishing I was reading the one I love, and knowing that once I do it will be gone, so I don’t, and end up not enjoying the one I’m in. You know the old saying – love the one you’re with. I shall adhere.

    Cornelia, the last 3 books I read were blurbs, and they were great, so I’m primed and ready to go. You’ll get your books back soon, I hope!

    Colette – don’t buy any more – check. I’m trying : )

    Chuck, you have the Billie approach, single out a few, make a mini stack and go from there. I’m liking this idea.

    Louise, all this started with that judging panel two years ago. I had books I HAD to read, and felt guilty when I read for pleasure. I’ve never fully recovered from that.

    Reply
  22. JT Ellison

    Judy, Nashville is doing really well – still major issues, and it’s going to take 5 years to get everything rebuilt. But our spirits are high. Several of the charities and personal friends have been working to get books back into the libraries and personal collections, I’ve been donating a bunch!

    Stephen, alphabetizing was a blessing and a curse – I love having them in order, but the shelves are so full that when a new entrant arrives, everything needs to be shifted around to make room. an be a royal pain in the tuckus.

    Jake, my paperback collection has been reduced dramatically, but the numbers are still high – those are mostly signed originals. I like your logic though!

    MJ, I think you’ve hit something there – I get as much pleasure out of buying books as I do reading them. Thank GOD I don’t have a shoe fetish anymore…

    Anonymous – I love that you’ve got separate sections. I’d love to cruise your library some day!

    Eika, you’ve hit upon one of my solutions – I ship boxes of books to my parents, many those I haven’t read, then get the pleasure of choosing when I’m at their place too!

    Allison, the stressed reading options are so important! I guess the lesson learned here today is we all have a book problem!

    Reply
  23. anonymous

    Now now, now JT. You’re calling it a PROBLEM? I don’t see any problem here, I see a lot of love in the audience. Oh yeah. I see love. I see victory. We got the victory.

    I’ve got, got the victory
    I’ve got the sweet sweet victory in Books,
    Yes I do!
    They are my mighty conquerer,
    In Books I will trust, all my battles Books will fight.

    I’ve got, got the victory
    I’ve got the sweet sweet victory of Books!

    Truly I’ve been through the storm and rain.
    I know everything about heartache and pain.
    Books carried me through it all.

    [Chorus]

    We don’t have a problem, Houston, we just got religion.

    ; – } Amen, Sisters and Brothers.

    Reply
  24. Sara J. Henry

    Completely at random. Close your eyes and choose – sort of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

    And the ones you can’t make yourself finish – off they go to the used bookstore or the library donation pile.

    Reply
  25. Karen in Ohio

    Uh-oh. Here you asked for help and all you get are fellow sufferers and enablers! πŸ™‚

    And I’m no help. A year and a half ago I called the local public library to send a truck. They picked up 1,000 books out of our home library, which did not make a dent in the collection. Despite my vow not to buy any more books I’ve probably replaced close to half the amount I donated. Sigh.

    I hope all you authors appreciate my financial support. And will you be willing to return the favor when I’m found beneath a pile of toppled tomes? My family might need it by then! lol

    Reply
  26. Mike Cane

    I have this problem with a ton of eBooks. The solution there — since I’m at that point in my life where the slope is now downhill instead of up — is to ignore re-reads, period. And to read writers you’ve never read before. Help enlarge the pool of writers you can recommend, instead of only reading those you’ve always read.

    Reply
  27. Nancy Laughlin

    Yes, I too am a bookaholic! I recently went through some shelves to thin out books I’ve read but don’t need to keep, books I will never read, and duplicates of books still waiting to be read.
    How come I’m the only one confessing to that problem!
    I got rid of a bag and a half of books. I’ve now replaced them with new!
    One problem with the random pick is if you really, really love the book you picked and discover it’s part of a series, and book 4 to boot, you (I) absolutely have to have books 1 -3 and book 5 of that series. Then, of course, as I’m searching for those, I find others I must have. <sigh>

    Like Billie, I have a mini TBR stack on the floor beside my reading chair. It doesn’t work real well for me, but hopefully you’ll have better luck with it.

    Reply
  28. River Jordan

    Me too. Everything. In my case I get so overwhelmed trying to choose a book from my shelf I just go to the bookstore and buy another. Case in point – picked up LIttle Bee from Davis Kidd yesterday while still reading IN the Sanctuary of Outcasts because I’m nearing the end and need to start another. Also have Mary Buckners Watermind that I just received by order on line to go.

    My suggestion JT – close you eyes, walk up to your shelf and pull one down. Read it.

    Because its easier to tell you to do that than me. πŸ™‚

    River

    Reply
  29. JT Ellison

    Anon – we don’t have a problem, just a religion – what a GREAT bumper sticker!!! Thanks for the cheery song!

    Ms. Sara – I only go random selection when wearing wool. ; ) Good grief, I’m probably going to end up building some sort of choice matrix to do it for me… and I’ll cheat.

    Karen, we DO appreciate your support!!! And your enabling is a help too : )

    Mike, I’m being very, very picky with the ebooks I download so I don’t end up with a million choices there too.

    River, I’ve been known to just go buy a new one when I can’t decide too – and Davis Kidd is also the beneficiary of my mindlessness.

    Reply
  30. anonymous

    The cheery song was a rip off from Yolanda Adams the gospel singer. I am sooooooo not gospel, but it makes me giggle when I read what all of the book evangelists here at Murderati are praying for.
    We’re doomed…….

    Reply
  31. KarinNH

    Because I was teaching research, I’d read about the Paradox of Choice when the study came out. And it made sense. But what I think really overwhelms us is having to make these choices about everything, all the time.

    So, for the things I don’t want to spend a lot of time and attention on–the brand of soap I use, the jam I buy, and the cereal I eat in the morning, for example–I basically eliminate choice. One type of each, and I don’t even look at the others in the store.

    Eureka! It leaves a whole lot of space for thinking about books!

    Reply
  32. ZoΓ« Sharp

    Hi JT

    We acquired so many books at our last house that we built a bigger house just so we could fit in more bookcases. (OK, so there were other reasons, too…)

    Now we’re trying to de-clutter, which is not helped by the overflowing three-bookcase-TBR stack. Our local library may be getting donations, and soon!

    How about asking Randy to simply choose a book from your TBR pile and hand it to you?

    Reply
  33. Robin McCormack

    I had the same problem. Random.org has helped me. I have a numbered list of books that I made up . I plug in that I want 5 numbers between the numbers 1 and 69 and whatever numbers come up, those are the books I read next. Works wonderfully – most of the time. I decided to quite buying books until I get through the pile. Unfortunately there are just some new books I can’t pass up. Usually I’ll end up reading them sooner than later. Thanks!

    Reply
  34. Renee Thompson

    I don’t dink around with a book I don’t like, meaning I’ll read maybe the first 20 pages, but if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and I let it go. (I almost always know within the first 10 pages if it’s a go or not, so 20 pages is generous.) I’m militant about this, and feel no guilt whatsoever. It’s a good system, but not everyone can stomach it. (It also means I’ve got to let go of that $25 hardcover I just bought, but it was a mistake, and I’m not dwelling on it; I’m donating it to the library, and maybe — just maybe — someone else will love it.)

    Reply
  35. Chris Hamilton

    It would be really horrible if you were to accidentally drop your iPhone directly behind the rear wheel of your car and accidentally back over it, requiring a new one.

    Just sayin.

    Reply
  36. anonymous

    KD That’s so funny it makes me sad. That is what I am doing with MY kids. Finding room for all of THEIR books. (What’s a mother for?) WAIT. Is this ‘enabling’? ‘Spoiling’ ? Hell. I just know I have to make sure I have room for the books I am going to read to my grandchildren. Ahhhhhhhhh. Starting with Harold and The Purple Crayon !!! (You all are too young,,,,,nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah) Grandpa can start with Pat the Bunny, reminding me that I have always wanted to publish Scratch the Bernese Mountain Dog’s Butt.

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  37. JT Ellison

    Karin, I’m doing the same thing with my consumable goods. It makes it easier on the men grocery shopping, too : )

    Z, you’re asking a grave question. What if I don’t like it. Will he get upset? Feelings hurt? No, probably better to keep my own counsel on this one.

    Pari, I wish I could be so loose with it. I can’t make that work. I’m thinking, after all of this, that the alpha route might still be best. I don’t know – I’ll report back if I ever get a handle on it.

    Robin, a woman after my own heart – creating order from chaos!

    Renee, I wish I could do that – half the time if a book’s not working for me I think it’s probably me and my mood. Maybe I should be more militant…

    Chris, bite your tongue. I get much too attached to my inanimate object, I could never purposefully hurt one.

    BCB – oh yeah! And then they give them away. It’s great!

    Anon, I just brought home all my kid’s books from my parents’, they’re still boxed in the garage…

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  38. anonymous

    Put the boxes up outta the way of flood waters !!!

    Nice post JT. Hit a chord on everyone’s squeeze box.

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  39. Allison Brennan

    I love books, I buy lots of books, and I used to finish what I started. Now, because of time, if I don’t love the book, I don’t finish it and I give it to someone else. I do tend to buy primarily authors I know I’ll like, but I like a lot of authors. I also read a lot of debut novels. What I DON’T read as much as I used to are established authors I’ve never read before. And I don’t know why.

    I did get an iPad πŸ™‚ but not to read books. It’s going to pretty much replace my laptop. I love my laptop, but it’s cumbersome to travel with, and when I found out I can get a wireless keyboard and write on the iPad? I was sold. So I got it. I haven’t written on it because I’m finishing up revisions on a manuscript my editor used track-changes on (and the iPad has Pages, not Word) but I’m going to start my next book on the iPad because I’m going to be writing a huge chunk of while traveling this summer.

    As far as all the self-published novels . . . are they really a choice? If we don’t see them, can we really choose them? As far as traditional book stores go, both chains and indies, they don’t stock many self-published books. And the 170K traditional published aren’t even half fiction.Yes, we have a lot of choices, but when you narrow it down to your preferences (i.e. I read primarily thrillers, mysteries and romance with a little bit of science fiction thrown in) then you don’t have as many choices. But, the quantities of everything kind of prohibits me trying new genres.

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  40. Becky LeJeune

    Oh, yes. I share your addiction JT. And I will spend hours staring at my shelves trying to decide what to read next. When this happens, I find that I’ll pick one out of desperation and then set it aside and pick another. It’s maddening!

    I have no solution. I actually have a schedule for review books. That helps me some. Others get rushed to the top for various reasons: it might be a book my sisters are begging me to send over or maybe the next in a series is due out and I want to get the new one. Or, I will go the punishment route and say that I can’t buy anymore books until I’ve read 5 out of the TBR stack first. I’ve tried them all. I’m a book junkie. What can I say?

    I once said that I would wrap books in Christmas paper and then pick randomly so that I couldn’t actually see what I was choosing from. I never tried it. It immediately got more complicated than that because what if I picked a paranormal romance and I was really in the mood for horror. Genre specific wrapping would have had to come into play… I still think it might be a good idea, but I doubt I’ll ever try it.

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