Thursday, June 17, 2010

Now and Then

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This week's Booking Through Thursday question asks:

Do you prefer reading current books? Or older ones? Or outright old ones? (As in, yes, there’s a difference between a book from 10 years ago and, say, Charles Dickens or Plato.)

This is a question made for me.  I seldom read a new book.  If it weren't for occasionally receiving a book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program or some other review copy, I probably would read one new book a year, if that.

There are a couple of reasons for my preference for vintage reads. For one thing, I must have some psychic need to get comfortable with something before I enjoy it.  Books sit on my TBR shelf for years before I am in the mood to read them.  Just like new clothes may hang in my closet until they are out of style before I find an occasion to wear them.  I even knew my husband for almost eight years before I ever thought of dating him.

The second reason is more pragmatic.  I am compulsive about my book lists, trying to read all the Pulitzer fiction winners, the Radcliffe Top 100 books, every book by Anthony Powell, etc.  When you are committed to lists like this, you have to enjoy older books.

Most of my lists feature books from the 20th Century, and my particular favorites are mid-century -- basically WWII to Watergate. But I try to read a handful of 19th Century books every year. I am lackadaisically working on the novels of Dumas and Dickens and have a nice set of Mark Twain that I chip away at.  And I am sometimes inspired by the Daily Telegraph's list of the Best 100 Novels of the 19th Century

New or old? What are your preferences?


  1. Hi...thanks for visiting! Too funny, I'm actually 'reading' Cranford via audiobook. I'm fascinated by the Daily Telegraph list--so many authors on it that I've never heard of! Always makes we wonder which of the 'hot' authors of today will be forgotten in 100 years.

  2. I love lists. I love checking off books from the major lists, but I have to do it randomly--any kind of commitment makes me chafe. And I'm getting way too old to still be going about things in such a willynilly fashion, but there you go.

    I truly admire how you've been able to manage it.

  3. I'm afraid I'm not 'into' list books, but I still have an interest in the Daily Telegraph books.

  4. I like lists too, though I'm rarely organized enough to follow through. I like to read a mixture of new and old, and a mixture of genres.

  5. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog. I'm not a compulsive list reader but I do like many of the English classics (as well as more modern ones).

  6. Hi Rose.... I am reading "A Good Yarn" by Debbie Macomber, I think it was published in 2005, but, since she is one of my favorite authors I have 4 or 5 of her books on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I also am listening to Julie Andrews "Home A Memoir of My Early Years" I think it was copyrighted 2008. I read them as I get to them.

    I do keep a list of books I think I would like to read, if I find them in a Bookstore, I usually pick them up, and as I said, I read them when I get to them.

    Thanks for stopping by today for a visit in My Reading Corner.

  7. I have two friends that have books that stay on the TBR shelf for many months or years whatever the reason is. I keep mine small so I can read them all. I feel pressure if I have too much to read.

  8. When reading for fun I've always pretty much read new books - I studied history and political science in uni, and having to read so much old stuff for school, I only wanted to read new stuff for fun.

    But recently I've realized that there is so much stuff out there that I've missed. So I've started doing more "list" reading. I challenged myself this year to read 3 classics. I've also decided to try and read everything on the BBC Big Read list, also as much of the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list.

  9. Audrey -- I know what you mean. That 19th Century Top 100 list fascinates me for just that reason.

    SFP -- I like my lists, but I never try to read them in order. Just catch as catch can.

    Zetor -- The list thing can get manic, so I admire anyone not tempted.

    Sheila -- I try not to let the lists control me. I'm in charge, right? :)

    DawnTreader -- thanks for visiting! I like the classics, and I really like Brit. Lit. from the '40s and '50s.

    Ann -- Those are pretty contemporary by my standards! Anything published in the last 10 years seems "new" to me. :) Thanks for stopping by!

    Panda -- I gave up on trying to keep my TBR stack manageable and just gave into hoarding.

    Shan -- Ah! You were tempted by the list! It is hard to resist. I am working on the BBC list. The 1001 list is so daunting that I have managed to ignore it so far. Well, kind of. I keep track, but not zealously.

  10. I try not to make lists of books for myself to read, if I do I tend to feel like I "have" to read them, odd...I know,lol. I love current best sellers but I read books due to my interest in them, not the books age.

  11. Wow I am so impressed with your variety! To read from so many eras is impressive! And you know, if the books they are churning out stand the test of time, they will eventually make it your way in time too :)

  12. I mainly read current books.

  13. The Social Frog -- It's true that making the lists leads to guilt. I have to remind myself that reading is a hobby and is supposed to be fun!

    Amused -- That's what I figure. A book need to stand the test of time (at least for a bit) before I read it. At least, that's my excuse.

    Yvonne -- I don't think I could if I tried, because I always bring them in faster than I read them, so what was current would become old by the time I got to it. :)

  14. I enjoyed your post. I'm not quite as attached to lists as you, but I too am a fan of the literature of times past (although not exclusively). I particularly like female British authors from mid - end of 20th century and Edwardian authors.

  15. As a college student, I abuse my library system (oh, Georgia PINES!), so I don't get a chance to get used to a book the way you do! Sounds good.

  16. I don't keep track (perhaps I'll start today!), but my guess is that I primarily go for books from the 1940s through the 2000s.

  17. That Daily Telegraph list is intimidating - there are so many authors on it I've never heard of, and I like 19th-century books!

  18. Ted -- I need to pay more attention to the female authors you like. I am an Iris Murdoch fan, but otherwise, I tend to stick with the males, like K. Amis, G. Greene, A. Powell, etc. Who are your favorites?

    Clare -- yes, due dates would ruin my reading habits. I stick with audio books from the library so I can download them to my iPod and take my time.

    Charley -- I think I prefer 1940s on, like you. I read books from earlier, but seem to prefer those from WWII and later.

    Amat Libris -- It is either intimidating or freeing. I try to use it as a reminder to not let lists control me. They don't always get it right.

  19. Yay for list reading! There's something about the classics. Test of time and all that, perhaps.

    I don't find the eras to make so much of a difference, although some of the older novels are less accessible because of the dense writing style. It's fun to read across the years and watch styles change.


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