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?

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