The Books We Keep Meaning To Read…

Why do we save books for that elusive rainy day? This is something I have been pondering a lot of late and decided that I need to address in my own reading habits. Do not fear this is not going to be a challenge as I have promised myself that I am not going to be doing any of those, which is weirdly a challenge in itself. So maybe I do have one challenge. Anyway, before my head hurts, I mentioned this with Thomas when we recorded The Readers and I said I wasn’t even going to be doing a ‘reading for Gran challenge this year’, I think she would actually be telling me to just read what I want when I want. Though I can also imagine her saying ‘but why do you always need to read contemporary fiction and the latest this and that’. I can imagine it because she said it one day in the hospital a few months before she died. She would be/is right I have soooooo many books that I have been saving for that elusive rainy day, not actually noticing that it rains rather a bloody lot here.

That illusive rainy day...

That elusive rainy day…

Initially I thought of older books, which I will come to shortly, yet there are some newer ones too. I have the joy of interviewing (slight name drop alert) Tess Gerritsen tomorrow and I realised that I had let myself get woefully behind with the Rizzoli and Isles series. Part of this is because I like to have some ahead as I love the series so much I am scared it will stop and the other, you guessed it, that rainy day. Well I have broken with tradition and read the latest one and will have the two I have missed to catch up with. (Another bookish OCD thing I have is that I have to read a series in order, on the whole!) Yet why do I wait? I might get run over by a bus tomorrow – though hopefully not. This applies to lots of series but also to books by new to me contemporary authors I love, like Jenn Ashworth. I am in love with her writing at the moment, waited till a new year to read her second book… but why should I wait till next year to read her third to spread them out? Madness. I should binge till I feel sick surely?

This of course applies to older books, be they classic classics or modern classics. Why have I held of reading all the Margaret Atwood/Kazuo Ishiguro/Anne Tyler books from the last several decades that I have bought over the years and sit on my shelves or in boxes? Why do I pace my Daphne Du Maurier or Muriel Spark’s, is it because they are dead so I won’t find more? Wouldn’t I be furious if I didnt read them all by the time (hopefully in about 60 years) I am on my deathbed thinking of my reading life? Then of course there are the classics, many of which I know I want to read but don’t like a very silly sausage. It’s time to think on Savidge!!

So I have decided I am going to ban the term ‘saving it for a rainy day’ and informally (because I am not seeing this as a challenge like I said) I am going to think about all the books I have always meant to read and bring them back into my reading diet. An unofficial ‘books before I am forty’ list might appear, it might not. I might just see, like my main aim of the year ‘sod it and hurrar!’ What do you think and which books have you been saving for a rainy day and why?


Filed under Random Savidgeness

43 responses to “The Books We Keep Meaning To Read…

  1. Jen

    The newest Jo Nesbo book!

    • I have an interesting relationship with Jo Nesbo, I really wanted to read him and then was a bit non plussed. I think that it is because the first book here wasn’t the first book in the series so I didn’t get into it.

  2. I’m always putting of writers in English that aren’t translated these days so they are my rainy day writers

  3. Katy McCoy

    I do pace books in series because when I’ve read several in a row, they just don’t seem as good to me. When I do get back to them, I’m ready to spend some time with the characters and I’m not bored by them. I do “save” some books, because otherwise, if I read all my favorites, I wouldn’t read anything else. So, often, I am behind a little in series that have been out for awhile. But that’s ok with me – I look forward to going back to them. (Unless, I too, need to interview the author….!)

    • I think the series thing is a pretty universal thing with readers. Weirdly I didn’t find jumping the Tess Gerritsen series as painful as I thought it would, they standalone as they only hint at what has gone before but enough to make you want to read the ones before if you haven’t, very clever writing that.

  4. I think the #1 reason we “leave them for a rainy day,” is that we buy/acquire them WAY faster than we could ever read them. I, too, am reading pretty much by how my mood takes me this year, but I still spread my favorite authors that I’m “behind on” out a little. Katy above said it very well – I feel like if I read them too close together, it seems like too much of a good thing. And, if I make myself a list of books that must be read “this month” (whatever time you want here), that’s a sure fired way to make sure I don’t get around to reading them. 🙂 Read as you please! You’ll eventually get to the ones you’ve been putting off, and when you do, you’ll find new “old friends.” 🙂

    • I think you are onto something there Susan, I get a lot of books and so there is always the lure of the new. I am getting stricter with the unsolicited ones and getting rid of many more of them, and just reading more of the books I have had a while for whatever time. That said I am probably going to read Grasshopper Jungle next which is very new. The Beard bought it for me.

  5. Rhian

    I have been pacing myself with CP Snow’s Strangers and Brothers books. I can make it sound rational by saying that there will never be any new ones, but that’s just coming up with a reason!
    And I have certainly bought books faster than I can read them – but I have turned over a new leaf. I am reading and not buying – except for a couple of Shakespeare plays which I am going to see later in the year and intend to read first (almost certainly won’t happen, but I’ll still buy them) and any books that catch my eye in charity shops (I might never see them again, and any way it’s for charidee so it’s good, right?)

    • I’ve been saving Strangers and Brothers for 10 years despite the fact I was so desperate to get the whole set (which was out of print) that I dragged my husband around about 12 second hand book shops in one town.

    • The thing is there being no more is a good reason. Yeah, ok we could re-read the books but there is nothing quite like savouring a book (or of course a series) for the first time.

  6. My rainy day books have been ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ and ‘The Secret History’. Whenever I read lists of best/favourite books, they always seem to appear. But I have a mortal fear that I won’t understand them! No idea why, I’m not an eejit.
    So I’ve bought myself a copy of the Tartt. Will let you know how I get on.
    Great blog, by the way – I’m a newbie, but I’m following!

    • I don’t think either of these books are hard work, although I’ve only read The Secret History, which was fab. I have that fear too sometimes, and I avoid anything with which the terms “post modern” or “magical realism” attached. They’re my book phobias if you like. I bought Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests the day it came out, and kept it to read at Christmas. Loved it. A rainy day one I haven’t got round to is Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. But I will….plenty of rain here at the moment, so maybe now’s the time. I’m frightened I’ll hate it, and I LOVE all Kate Atkinson’s other books.

    • Thank you! I hope that you enjoy The Secret History. I loved that book. Weirdly I have a slightly hazy recollection of it and haven’t read her others but I liked that one a lot. I have also been meaning to read A Prayer for Owen Meany’.

  7. I put aside books I am nearly certain I will enjoy – as my go-to when I am disappointed with other reads. Unfortunately, I get so busy with reading challenges or reviews or books which need to be returned to the library… that I hardly ever have time to go to those ‘sure-fire winners’. Which is crazy, really, isn’t it?

    • The go to certainty is a very good point. My only problem is that I have too many of them. Library books are something I should have mentioned and forgot. I might have another post on those soon.

  8. Pingback: Driven to read but have I passed the detours to do that ! | Winstonsdad's Blog

  9. Annabel (gaskella)

    The answer to your question is too bloody many! Thus I am reading purely from my TBR on my blog until at least the end of March, and gradually reading Anthony Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time series at one book per month – I’d been saving it for the right rainy day without realising that nearly all rainy days are alike.

  10. I am the same way with a series. I will collect them all and wait until the whole series is out so I can binge read the whole thing. If I end up loving a series, when that first book is over and I can’t pick up number two it is like a gut punch.

    I have so many books in my TBR piles that it is no longer saving a title, and instead has become, “Which one do I pick next?! There are just so many I want to read!” I’ve even had to give a list to someone else and have them pick because I couldn’t decide.

    And yet, I keep buying more..

    • Oh interesting, I have never heard of someone doing the saving and binging, that is really interesting. So have all your series ended, or do you just wait until they do?

      I think we need to keep buying books. I will never feel guilty for that.

      • I typically wait until the series is complete and will binge read for days. Maybe only a few hours of sleep, reading every available moment. I manage to avoid most major spoilers, will skim reviews if they have too many details, etc.

        While I’m waiting for the series to end I explore back lists, seek out new-to-me authors, dust off previously purchased titles that have been waiting (which goes to your post). I even have a tall narrow bookcase just for pieces of series waiting to be completed.

        I completely agree with the buying books. I will never stop. I am trying to buy more directly from small presses to do my small part in supporting the authors and smaller houses. I am addicted to books and totally okay with that!

      • Wow. I find that fascinating. Isnt it amazing the lovely variety of quirks we all have reading?

      • I completely agree! I think part of the richness of the book community is that not only do we all love to read, but we love to read in our own ways. We each take something unique away from the reading and find something different within the text.

  11. David

    This is something I’ve started addressing in my own reading over the last two or three years, Simon. I used to read almost exclusively new books, even avoiding the backlists of authors I liked. I have no idea why – the lure of the new perhaps? I was still buying backlists of favourite authors for just those ‘rainy days’ you mention, but never getting around to them. I think part of the ‘letting go’ process for me was an increasing dissatisfaction with prize lists (especially the Booker), so where previously a lot of my reading had been geared towards what was eligible for prizes that year, I now find I don’t care all that much and I find not only am I enjoying what I’m reading a lot more but I’m reading better books too: when even a part of your reading diet consists of older books that have already stood the test of time, it does have the effect of showing up some new books as being, well, not all that good, which makes it a lot easier to not be fussed if I haven’t read them.
    Anyway, I finally got around last year to reading Olivia Manning’s ‘Fortunes of War’ books which I had been meaning to read for years. This year I’m reading Paul Scott’s ‘Raj Quartet’ (and have bought four other books by him which I will also likely read this year). And like Annabel, I plan on getting to ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’ too, perhaps next year, which I have had copies of for ages. And with more recent authors I’ve been finally diving into (and loving) the backlists of authors like Alex Miller, Christopher Koch, David Adams Richards…
    Of course all this liberation is double-edged: instead of just buying (and not getting around to) lots of books published in the course of a given year (which to a lesser extent I’m still doing), I suddenly find myself buying (and not getting around to) lots of books published in the last hundred years – the TBR mountain may have switched from predominantly hardback to paperback (and mercifully many older books can be picked up at bargain prices) but it still grows ever higher! I’m still going to need a never-ending flood of rainy days to get through them all.

    • Hahahaha, this comment is my favourite. (I always feel that I can never answer your comments in depth enough!) I think a book lovers life is all about Tsundoku which I think the best book lovers excel in.

  12. CrimeReaderBlog

    I haven’t yet managed to break my own ‘read series in order’ compulsion so well done on that!

    • I think it depends on the order and how far you are behind. I am not too far with Rizzoli and Isles thankfully, and reading the latest has only made me all the more keen to catch up.

  13. I’m with you – I buy a book and think this is going to be great and then it languishes for ages on my bookshelf. The funny part is that when I read it I always wonder what took me so long to read it.

  14. I have two particular books that I’ve saved because they are the last in a series and the author has died and part of me doesn’t want to read them for that ‘era’ to be over. It’s daft but I still do it!

    • I can completely understand that. When I get to the last Du Maurier and Spark I think I will just think how awful it would be if I didn’t read them all. The fact Margaret Atwood has written a book that won’t be published for 100 years drives me insane.

  15. I don’t save for rainy days but I do save them for long haul flights – and then get to the airport and invariably buy something completely different. Because, oh horror, what if that book I’d saved specially for the flight is so good I romp through i and then have two hours left of twiddling of thumbs OR it turns out to be a real dud.

  16. Shirley

    Angela Carter is my major Rainey day read. I’ve only read two of her books and a lot of her short stories. I’ve been saving her for a reading funk. I’ve also been scared to read her too quickly because like you said she’s dead and when I’m done that’s it no more new novels. It’s also a mixture for me of trying to try to make sure I read a variety of books, so I do unfortunately leave books I’m almost certainly going to love for a “rainy day”. I have discovered some gems though from making sure I’ve read something I wasn’t too sure about beforehand, so it’s not all bad.

    • Angela Carter is an author I need a lot of time for I have realised, and one that I love and then don’t in some random madness. I like her shorter stories and fairytales the most.

  17. All my books are bought and then I put them into a big box I keep under my desk and when I finish one book I blindly reach my hand down for the next… Whatever it may be, regardless of the mood I’m in. Works a treat for removing ‘mood-bad-day-bias’!

    • Oh that is a fun way of doing it. I have too many books to do that but I have seen people who do it via a jar filled with pieces of paper with titles on, then pick a random – or use a spreadsheet, hmmm ideas are forming.

  18. No of course I don’t save books for a rainy day any more than I am waiting for the “right moment” to listen to some magnificent work by Bach or Stravinsky or saving my viewing of a Titian, or Malevich or Ansel Adams for some special occasion. I am puzzled (which is to say uncomprehending) as to why this might be apparently a feature of those who read avidly.

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