Book Goal Conflict

It has come to my attention that two of my bookish goals for this year are at war:

  1. Read Your Own Damn Books (reading books I already own)
  2. Read more diversely (in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc)

I am really enjoying reading more diversely, but I also really want to reduce my physical TBR which, having accumulated before I got more “woke”, is filled with books from exactly the kind of authors I always read from over and over again. SO(!) how do I reconcile my desire to continue my diverse reading adventure and whittle down my TBR*?

*NB: when I say TBR in this post I mean the books I already own. My virtual TBR on GoodReads is filled with diverse reading options that I’m excited to get to, but it’s the reading of already-bought books that I wanted to try to do this year (Read Your Own Damn Books). It would save me some money too. I don’t really buy books new and I borrow from my library a lot, but prioritising reading books I’ve already bought instead of buying more (even if secondhand) could mean more money for Gü pots or other delicacies. 😉

Also (I don’t think it bares mentioning really, but in case it does), it’s not that I don’t want to read the types of authors that are considered the ‘default’ any more. I just want to read from a wider pool of authors as well, but prioritising my current TBR would definitely overwhelm that goal and make it pretty…’monocultured’, shall we say?

SO what to do about this? Honestly, I’m not sure. I’m hoping my library gets more audiobooks by a diverse range of authors that I can listen to at work. I recently listened to The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales and it really surprised me (in a good way). It cost nothing and, being an audiobook that I could read while working, didn’t cut into my ‘reading’ time at all…in fact, it turned work time into ‘reading’ time which is always nice ha!

The only problem with this library audiobooking tactic is that my library only updates their catalogue very occasionally (and usually more ebooks come in than audiobooks). The books aren’t always interesting (with fewer of them by women (unless romance which doesn’t often appeal to me) or POC or LGBT people) and there are usually a lot of self-help books by middle-class, middle-aged white dudes or hokey pseudo-psychology mysticism crap and I just…I’m not about that life. So that doesn’t really help me much.

Why is this important to me? Lots of reasons. You can interpolate the obvious motivations for why I want to keep on top of this balance that might seem to be only about statistics. But on a far less lofty level, I get bored of reading from the same perspective all the time. I am interested in (just about) all the books I have on my TBR or I at least have solid reasons for wanting to read them, but just as you sometimes need a break after reading the same genre day in and day out, I can’t just read basically they same point of view all the time without feeling a little unenthused about my reading.

I guess this is a bit of a brain spew, but “Just don’t pay attention to it and read whatever” is sort of hard for me since I think I’ll start to feel the lack of difference pretty quickly, but I do want to make a dent in the unread books on my shelf. Maybe I’ll go through my shelves and see what books I can donate so I don’t have to worry about feeling obliged to read them… Ugh ugh ugh. Someone give me £1million to buy audiobooks for the rest of my life (and also a house in which to put my physical books and myself…just…gonna sneak that in there too…fine print).

Have you come across a conflict of interests in your reading goals? What was it and what did you do to solve (or at least mitigate) it? Have any suggestions for me?

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10 Responses to Book Goal Conflict

  1. Pingback: Claire x Nikki Review July 2016 | Bitches With Books

  2. Heather says:

    I’ve had pretty much the same problem. After looking at my mid-year reading stats I can see that I read lots of books by white dudes who speak English. I don’t have any issue with this – I like what I like – but I would like to read more diversely. Having said that, I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that it probably won’t happen until next year as I really do want to prioritise my own damn books for the rest of the year (she says after borrowing her third library book in two weeks).

    I think it’s good to read diversely, but I don’t think it has be at the expense of not reading the books you already have – there’s a reason you picked them up in the first place.
    I’d say read what you have and if a book pops up in your library audio catalogue (or their physical book catalogue) grab it to mix things up a bit.
    Have you considered signing up for an Audible account? I usually use my monthly credit to get a book that isn’t what I’d normally read.

    • Nicole says:

      I don’t find reading diversely to be a chore of anything though; it really is something I enjoy doing! It’s actually brought me some of my new favourite authors, but because I had so many books slowly accumulated before I thought about looking for different types of authors, my physical TBR is very mono-perspective which can feel a bit tiring after a while. Obviously there’s definitely good(…ish) reasons I picked up most of the books I already own though! But sometimes reading them feels like it’s the same sort of thing one after the other now that I’ve been exposed to more types of stories that feel very fresh and interesting despite the different genres. For example, I have three SF books from cis het white dudes written in the 60s and, let me tell you…the sexism is sometimes like “OK! give it a rest already! I get it: you love boobs but women are terrible at doing anything that doesn’t involve sex or feeding you!” But the sci-fi adventure parts are really interesting hahaha! There are a lot of examples where reading classics have litle sprinklings of racism or fantasy have bits of sexism that can become tedious when read all at once so I think a lot of the books I already own have started feeling a little bit like a burden in some ways… But then right when I start to feel like “if I haven’t read them already in the years I’ve had them…do I even really care!!??”, I go through them individually and I (mostly..haha) feel like “hmm I guess I would want to read this though…”. Not to mention, reading what I have is more wallet-friendly… There are SO MANY FEELINGS I CAN’T ESCAPE!! D8 hahah

      I don’t use Amazon, but I have been looking around to see if there are any other ways to obtain audiobooks.. Haven’t really found anything yet. :’) lol Apple’s book catalogue is sometimes quite affordable, but audiobooks really do whack the wallet pretty hard compared to other forms generally speaking ^^;;; siiiigh.

      • Heather says:

        I agree with you on the cost of audiobooks – like, I don’t get anything physical, so why are you charging me SO MUCH for a voice recording? I wasn’t going to get an Audible account, but some of the audiobooks I wanted were like $50 which just seems like daylight robbery. At least with a monthly subscription I get a credit and any other audiobook I get will only be $14.95, which is still a lot, but at least it isn’t $50 I guess.
        I just finished reading Lev Grossman’s ‘The Magicians’ and there was SO MUCH BOOBAGE in it. It wasn’t on every page, and I didn’t find that the book was overly sexist, but writing about a character’s breasts doesn’t really add a lot to the plot, so why include it?

        • Nicole says:

          Haha yeah! If they were cheaper, I imagine more people would at least give them a try? I feel like I might be open to buying audiobooks if they’re ones I know I’d listen to several times (I’m thinking The Golem and the Jinni type stuff) but, at least for now, I rely almost exclusively on my library for audiobooks.
          Exactly!! It sometimes feels like authors think that stuff is built into the fabric of SFF when it doesn’t have to be that way. And it’s not that I suddenly hate the books/authors that do that necessarily OR that they’re being overly sexist, like you said, but they (usually) are just a bit clueless about certain things and it sometimes feels like “really? did we NEED that little inclusion? *eye roll*”…hahah So I definitely need to break it up with stuff that’s refreshingly a bit more inclusive too sometimes.

  3. Mahima says:

    I think it’s best to alternate. Read a book from your TBR, and then a book for diversity. This way at least both goals would get tackled. In terms of prioritising one over the other…yeah, I don’t think that would work. 😐

  4. imyril says:

    It’s exactly this conflict I face too. All these books on the shelves and my Kindle, but so few of them from anything but a cishet white perspective. Like you, I enjoy variety! My mitigation *mumble* has mostly been to buy/borrow more books and just keep reading 😉 I’m all ears if you get a better suggestion!

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