I’m going to interrupt my posts about Sonderbooks Standouts to talk about my new plans for reading books in 2012.
To understand this, and how much fun I’m having making plans, you probably should know that I am a rule-follower and love rules. I decided to channel this love in harmless, fun areas. I also check out way, way too many library books and get far too many Advance Reader Copies and other free books at ALA conferences. And I also buy more books than I can get read.
Up until the middle of last year, I had a problem that if I owned a book, I never got it read, because it didn’t have a due date. After ALA in June, with so many fabulous ARCs I really wanted to read, I decided to assign myself a rule: I will alternate reading Library books with books I own.
Later, I got to thinking that since I love rules and I love spreadsheets, why not make myself some rules about what books I’m allowed to keep checked out and which to turn in? I call it The Rule of Three, and basically I try to only have three books checked out in each category — and I have lots and lots of categories. When I check in books from having too many in a category, I put them on a list for a mythical future day when I will have less than three books checked out in that category. Theoretically, every day I get a pile down to three by checking in books from that category.
I’m having mixed results with The Rule of Three, but mostly it’s gotten me to turn in more books than I otherwise would have, and be slightly realistic about what I can get read, so I think it’s a good thing.
The alternating between library books and books I own, however, is working out super well. I’ve gotten lots of wonderful books I own read, and haven’t been too horribly much slower on the library books.
This brings me to 2012. When the year started, I received a package in the mail with four Advance Reader Copies that look really good. I looked at my piles of ARCs from ALA — and most of them have already been published. The point is kind of to read the books before they’re published, you know?
So, I thought I’d add a new rule. Every other time, with the books I own, I’ll read an ARC that hasn’t been published yet.
That led to another. With library books, I will also alternate between recently published books and others. Because I do like keeping up with what’s recently been published.
That got me thinking. A year and a half ago, I took a class on the Newbery Medal and read many of the winners. Last year, I took a class on the Caldecott Medal and read all the winners. And finally, a few months ago, I took a class on the Printz Medal. When I took the Printz class, I decided that since it’s a much newer award, it would be much more manageable to try to read all the winners and honor books. So I made myself a list of all the ones I hadn’t read, starting with the present. There are 43 books on the list. But I hadn’t actually started reading any of the books on the list.
But why not do it as a challenge? And add it to my rules? So far, I had four categories I’m cycling through: A library book, a prepub ARC, a new library book, and a book I own. Well, why not add a fifth category. After those four categories, I’ll read an Award Winner!
But then, oh no, I got jealous of Mr. Schu reading the Newbery books. I thought, why not alternate my award winners between Printz Medal and Honor books with Newbery Medal and Honor books? I will start with the present — I always want to read the new award winners — and just list the ones I haven’t already read. There are 288, so I am not at all thinking I’ll finish this list any time soon. But what a fun use of rules to get myself actually reading them.
But, uh-oh, then I got to thinking: There are other award books I’ve really been wanting to read. How about the Morris Award? That’s a very new award, so there aren’t all that many books I haven’t read (17, it turns out). I can add that list as a third award-winning list. But I have a real soft spot for first-time authors, since I’m trying to get published myself, so I’d really like to read those winners and finalists.
And wait! What about the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award? (210 winners and honor books I haven’t yet read.) Or the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature? (154 winners and finalists I haven’t yet read.) And how can I forget the Cybils? They are chosen by Bloggers, my people. I’d been wanting to read those books, and it’s a newer award, so I don’t have to go back too far. In fact, it turns out there are 135 winners and finalists in the categories of Middle Grade and YA fiction and nonfiction and fantasy/SF fiction that I haven’t read yet.
Remember I told you you needed to understand that I’m a person who loves rules? Believe it or not, I had all kinds of fun making spreadsheets for each of these awards. And I’m so excited about my new plan, I just had to write about it. I decided, to make the whole thing even, I’d add one more category to my reading cycle: Rereads. When Sonderbooks was an e-mail newsletter, I always included one Old Favorite, but since I switched to a blog, I haven’t done nearly as much rereading, and I miss that. So why not include one every sixth book? Besides, I just got the sequel to Coronets and Steel, and I very much want to enjoy rereading it before starting the sequel.
Now, I should add that there will be exceptions. If I would ever get on an award committee (which I would love to do), I’d happily set aside these rules for awhile. And right now, I’m finishing up reading the Shortlist from the Heavy Medal blog so I can vote in the mock Newbery they’re hosting next week. Another exception is that when I go on plane trips, I only bring paperbacks, and usually ones I own.
Clearly, obviously, reading all these Award Winners is not something I’m going to finish this year, or maybe even in my lifetime. I will be very happy if I get all of this year’s award winners read before next year’s are announced! But I am very excited about having this objective method for choosing excellent books for one-sixth of my reading.
I do think it will be fun to blog and tweet about this process of reading Award Winners. All I can think to call it is #awardchallenge. We’ll see how I do.
Did you notice that I didn’t include Nonfiction or Picture Books? Those each have their own completely different systems. I won’t even start to try to explain them.
So, in summary, here’s my plan for reading this year (as soon as I finish The Trouble With May Amelia):
1. Reread a book. (First one will be Coronets and Steel)
2. Read a book I own. (First one will be the sequel to Coronets and Steel)
3. Read a newly published Library book. (First one will be Death Comes to Pemberley, by P. D. James)
4. Read an Award Winner or Honor Book, cycling in this order: Printz, Newbery, Morris, Boston Globe/Horn Book, National Book Awards, and Cybils; and beginning with the most recently announced books. (For example, I can already start on the Finalists for this year’s Morris and Cybils awards.) (First one will be Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A. S. King)
5. Read a pre-publication ARC. (First one will be The Last Princess, by Galaxy Craze.)
6. Read any Library book. (I’ll probably take this one from my Rule of Three piles.)
Call me crazy, but I’m really looking forward to carrying out this plan!
It’s going to be a great year for reading!