21 July 2011

Nothing new can stay?

Elizabeth sent me this article, "Wait five years," on newspaper editor John McIntyre's decision not to read any more new books, a tip he picked up from a professor he once had.

This is a radical step toward balancing one's reading load, but it wouldn't work for me -- not just because of reviewing, but also because my impatience will not permit me to do it. Knowing what people are talking about and being able to make up my own mind on new books is part of the fun of the hobby! It's the thrill of the page-turn! Don't worry, I don't think I'm special in that regard; this is how books become bestsellers, after all.

At times I have felt too tilted in my own shelf-awareness toward new books and The Latest, but so far I haven't been tempted to go over too far to the other side. While it wasn't begun for this purpose, the idea of the Modern Library list as reading prompt has been useful (when I'm actually working on it) to give me exposure to older books and keep me from falling into a rut of titles about down-on-their-luck rural teenagers or quarreling upper-class families.

In the end, the editor just sounds kind of incurious. However, in passing he mentions reading everything on the New York Times bestseller list for a year, the kind of insane project I am attracted to -- so presumably he once was more curious, before he went out finger-guns a-blazin'.

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