I am the sort of person who has a pile of books sitting on my ‘to read’ shelf, all looking inviting. Most were bought because I was keen to read them and I just knew I would get down to them almost immediately. Why is it then that some sit around for a year or more? The same thing happens on my Kindle; I buy books because I want them rather than need them.
Last year, I made a concerted effort to read more female writers since a quick survey of my reading habits showed I read more men than women. I also aimed to read more writers in translation and/or from countries other than Britain and USA. It turned out to be the year of ‘balance’ since I alternated between male and female writers and between e-books and physical books. I also read more international writers.
This year, by way of a change, I decided to let chance and serendipity enter. So I have prepared cards with topics, themes and continents on them to pull out one at a time. Whatever is on the card has to direct me to a book that fits the theme. Cards include general ideas (diversity, identity etc), places (Asia, Africa etc) and specific sources (mentioned in an Observer review). Who knows if this is a good way to do things but I am going to give it a try. I might even reduce the number of books on that ‘to read’ shelf.
I intend one thing from this exercise above all others. The USA set itself on a new direction, starting today. It is not a direction I intend to follow. I intend to develop a wider world reading list and one that reduces the American presence on it.