Sunday, February 26, 2006

Book Rules

I’ve been weeding out my book collection lately. I’m a stone book addict. Television could end tomorrow and I’d barely blink. Books, on the other hand, are as necessary as breathing. When stacks of books start to impair mobility, however, steps must be taken and several rules have evolved:

  • With the exception of classics such as War and Peace, beware of long novels. Few writers nowadays can write them.
  • Don’t complete a bad book. Not finishing a book was a major sin when I was young. No more. I’ll give a writer a few chapters and if that sucker isn’t working, forget it.
  • Aside from reference books, the only books that belong on the shelves are those that are yet to be read and those that will be re-read. If a volume falls in-between, it’s gone.
  • Know when you’re reading trash. A little trash reading can be a nice break, but don’t equate Stephen King with Charles Dickens or Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • Find a prolific great writer. I just stumbled onto Anthony Trollope a few years ago and Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series can be enjoyed again and again.
  • Give a second break to the classical novelists who bored you when you were in high school. There’s a reason why they are classics.
  • Avoid the sort of “dysfunctional family” books that Oprah likes. They will only depress you.
  • Periodically, read something completely out of your normal routine. You may lurch into a new perspective.

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