The Sunday Salon (Pondering my reading) -- May Day, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011


The Sunday 
Salon.com

I wasn't planning to put up a post today - It's busy at home, my family's leaving this week, and I'm overwhelmed by the clutter in my life that for the first time, I'm considering doing a rash decluttering and not using the "Everyone's just as cluttered" excuse. I am losing control of my structure and routine and I certainly need to stop assuming that I am some kind of a superwoman who can do it all. So, today was supposed to be the day when I do some major cuts except I'm lazy and it's Sunday and it's Monday/workday tomorrow so who wants to bore it up today. And so I'm blogging!

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It's May and it's officially the time when you yell it's summer and start planning all those long escapes and getaways! That's the kind of thing I could have done in grad school, but with a job the escapes tend to be shorter. A few of my friends in Raleigh and Blacksburg and I are hoping to get out and have some fun in the sun (although the sun's my nemesis). There's BEA to get excited about for most of you, but I'm not going - I can't afford a mid-of-the-week escape, maybe I'll plan it for next year.

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Being the beginning of May and a third of the year in, I've also been looking at my reading so far, and what I plan for the rest of the year. Lately, I've read a lot of ARCs that I'm tired. I didn't realize reading could do that to me, but the pressure is high. Some of my reviews have been coming up days after the release and for the first time, I actually have a review backlog that's close to needing more than two hands to be counted on. Besides, some of my reading projects have been stalling. I know the reading projects can be added pressure, but they are all about books I want to read and have been talking about for years. Much as I like reading new releases, I want to be able to do that without pressure. Now, if all this sounds like a preamble to an admission that I won't read review books anymore, then that is definitely not what I mean. I will, of course. I'm already mighty choosy about what books I accept for review. I'm just going to be pickier, and really really think about a book and whether I have time before I accept it for review. Also, I find that I don't easily add a book to my goodreads to-read shelf as I do to my maybe-sometime shelf - that's probably a good way for me to decide if I want to read a book.

With that said, I'm hoping for a richer reading for the rest of the year. Helen and I are planning to read Shantaram starting June. (If anyone's interested in reading with us, let us know - more on this will be coming up in a later post on both our blogs.) One of my online book clubs is reading Les Misérables, which has been a must read for me for ages. I'm currently waiting for my copy to arrive via goodreads swap so that I can start it. I'm also hoping to read The Shadow of the Wind this month, another of the books that has languished on my shelves. That's three chunksters in one paragraph!

In addition, I'm hoping to rediscover some authors. There are some books I've rated high because the author's writing was spell-bindingly magical, but then I never read another book by that author because, well, we all know why that happens. So lately, I've been thinking to read another book from a potential favorite author - at least one a month. The motivation for this comes from my desire to read another title by José Saramago, a truly amazing writer, who sadly passed away last year. When I first heard about him, I was convinced that he and I wouldn't get along together. But then I read The Elephant's Journey last year and was amazed at how much I enjoyed the story - it was his writing that truly held me. There are writers who write beautiful literature and then there are writers like Saramago who can make the simplest stories come to life. Whoever thought that a medieval story about elephants and mahouts and soldiers traveling from one place to another would impress me that much. That's not something I would read on the weight of the synopsis alone.

So, while I ponder these plans and reevaluate my priorities (and declutter my life), have you been thinking about your reading lately? And let me know your amazing plans for the summer.

22 comments:

Misha said...

I can sort of guess how you feel. I have to write 15 reviews (!!) but am unable to find time due to exams. I am starting to feel the pressure of review books too. Usually when this happens, I read a non-review book - it eases the stress a little bit.
I enjoyed Shantaram - I will be looking forward to your thoughts on it.

hcmurdoch said...

Decluttering, or at least thinking about it, is so important. I know that when stuff gets piled up (literally and figuratively) I start to feel overwhelmed. I hope you get some organization done so you feel less swamped.

Athira / Aths said...

15 is huge! I read plenty of non-review books in between and that's part of the reason I lag big time! I shouldn't crowd too many review books in a week/month.

Athira / Aths said...

I know the feeling. It's been like that for a while - I hope by the end of this month, I can have everything sorted out.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I adore decluttering. I just pulled out 25 books for donation.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Good luck! Love the pics you chose!

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you!

Athira / Aths said...

Yay! I'm slowly doing something like that.

ashbrux said...

I'm also in a declutter, reevaluate priorities mode right now. It must be spring or something? ;) I've received A LOT more review queries recently and I'm struggling with it. I like to read review books but the pressure is definitely high. I've gotten into the habit of saying "I would love to accept your book but you should know it might be up to six months before I review it." Most authors are still happy to send you the book and if they don't then that's fine too. Remember that accepting a review copy doesn't contractually obligate you to read it. They're just trying to get the books out there and hopefully get some reviews along the way.

I'm so very sad you won't be at BEA this year. I hope we get to meet in person someday!

Melody Spano said...

It is about time to decide on some of those summer reading goals, isn't it? Wow, that happens so quickly. I took a quick glance at your GoodReads lists--makes my lists look like a post-it note. :) Have fun with your decluttering, it can be like a breath of fresh air.

Meghan said...

I like that you're getting all of your reading in order and trying to figure out precisely what you want to accomplish with the rest of the year. I feel like I need to do that a lot. I haven't really ever wanted to declutter though! Books are really the only thing I acquire (besides clothes and shoes) so I tend to have more space for them. And I give away most of my review copies, which helps! I've rejected A LOT of them over the past couple of years since I burned out on required reading and that has helped too.

Cat said...

I've been doing some reevaluating too and trying to rid myself from those things that put too much pressure on my reading.
I have Shantaram on my list to read this year so I'd be interested in reading along with you.

Bibliophilebythesea said...

I love this time of year. I am hoping you love Shantaram as much as I did...really a great book.

Athira / Aths said...

I'm hoping to go to BEA next year, so hopefully we can meet then!!

I'm also not trying to worry too much about review dates. I have a review due this week, but I haven't finished the book and may not in time. So I've just requested a date change, because I figured if I was to declutter, I may as well apply it to everything. I hope I can breathe easier by the end of the month. Good luck with your decluttering too!

Athira / Aths said...

Surprising how fast time flies right! We're already planning for the summer.. Wow! I hope the decluttering goes well!

Athira / Aths said...

I sometimes do too much (they're all fun though), so once in a while I have to declutter. That's just a way to clear my emails and reader and make sure everything that's starred have been tackled. It's good to do that once every few months - gives me some good breathing space and a strange kind of satisfaction.

Athira / Aths said...

I hope so too! I'm so excited about it.

Athira / Aths said...

I'm so thrilled that you want to join us for the Shantaram readalong! I'll send you the schedule soon.

Samantha 1020 said...

I know what you mean about pressure from reading sometimes. A couple of years back I completely stopped taking ARCs and have only now started taking a few here and there. I'm a very moody reader so I need to be able to accommodate that :) Hope you get everything figured out!

Athira / Aths said...

Sometimes I think I should consider not accepting ARCs, but I'm sure I'll demonstrate violent withdrawal symptoms. But less is certainly the way to go.. So I'll be trying to hold back more often.

Darlene said...

I can so totally relate to feeling the pressure from reading. I've been feeling the same lately. It's time to slow down soon. Shantaram sounds fantastic. I may just join you for that one!

Athira / Aths said...

You should join us for Shantaram! I will be posting a schedule in a week, hope to see you join the bandwagon!