Saturday, 17 August 2013

Reading Plans Going Awry

I am usually off on one tangent or another, suddenly becoming mildly obsessed with a particular subject and wanting to read what I can find on it and usually buying several books on the subject.  But reading plans can change as swiftly as they come, a moody or changeable reader (or one with too many interests, like myself) can find themselves abandoning the settled plan and instead of diligently setting forth on an in-depth study of say, Medieval architecture, Arthurian legends, or the Pre-Raphaelites or whatever; one can end up reading something quite different and often much less intellectual. 
I've recently read of other readers lately who have tried to stick with a reading plan and ended up leaving it.  I suppose when we set ourselves a reading list to follow, it becomes a bit like a task and we don't like to feel tied down to forcing ourselves to read something, especially when that changeableness comes on.  

The summer before last, I wanted to dip my toe into British archaeology, make a light study of chalk hill figures, stone circles, and continue reading more folklore and country books.  This all tied in with some paintings I was doing and an idea for a music project.  I had previously read John Aubrey's Natural History of Wiltshire and Stuart Piggott's books on William Stukeley and Antiquaries and other books over time. This was the stack of books I meant to read:

I even bought some more books to go along with these, but apart from the West Country folklore books,  I didn't get very far and ended up reading very different books.   This year one plan of mine was to read about the bohemian Bloomsbury set, particularly Vanessa Bell, who I think was an extremely interesting artistic woman.  This is my collection of Bloomsbury and related titles, which I will go into in more depth at a later time:
I had previously read 'Bloomsbury At Home' by Pamela Todd, and last summer the utterly wonderful 'Romantic Moderns' by Alexandra Harris; but apart from browsing through the other books, I haven't even begun to read them!  Most of my reading time this year has been in vintage fiction, and I've been getting through a lot more books this year than normal.  But now at this time I am reading the wonderful 'Albion: A Guide To Legendary Britain' by Jennifer Westwood, which fits in with that earlier list, but I confess that I feel guilty that I have not been reading history as much as I should and feel a poor scholar for not having more discipline in continuing my personal studies of history; medieval history being a great interest to me.  When I constantly see those shelves of books, so many of them still to read, I feel I've been too lazy.  I get very excited over history books and one of my favourite bookish things to do is to explore the bibliographic sources in the back of books, which is very interesting and can set you off onto lots of other, older books on a subject.  
So I am striving to be more scholarly in my reading, and while I don't promise to follow a set plan, I do intend to carry on with being more disciplined in getting a certain amount of history reading in.  It has been fun to just wander and read lots of fun books too though (like vintage Puffins), and I will still do that.
 I would be interested to hear of others and their view on reading plans, so do please comment.
(By the way, do visit my companion Music blog over here:
for some good music featured, if you like that sort of thing)


  1. I try not to have too many reading plans as I'm hopeless at sticking to them. Some other enthusiasm always comes along & distracts me. I have lots of books about WWI & WWII, mostly letters, diaries & personal stories rather than books about battles & strategy but it's been ages since I read anything from those shelves. Same with books on Scotland, English folklore, Arthur etc. I keep adding to the tbr shelves but not reading them. I've read most of the books in your Bloomsbury stack as I went through a Bloomsbury phase about 10 years ago but haven't read much since. I've decided to just read what I fancy & if it leads me on to another tangent, that's fine.

    1. Yes, reading what you fancy is the nicest way to read, Lyn. I don't understand the idea that some people have about books when they get rid of them just because they've been on the shelf for a long time and haven't been read yet, as if there's a time limit. Even if a book may sit there for ages, I do intend to read it eventually and it was bought for a reason. So even if the reading plan gets diverted, I'll get back to it eventually!

  2. Oh Lori, your post strikes such a chord! Why does it go wrong? For me, I think, it's because it often starts to look like an obligation and I get all teenagerish about it. But it would be so much more helpful and educational to stick to plans.

    1. Teenagerish is precisely the right term, like back when you had dull, tedious homework to do and ended up playing records instead! The only thing that's silly is that we planned the reading and shouldn't feel that way now. Oh well, at least there are no exams and no one is grading us...

  3. Lori, I just wanted to say how much I love your blog... Every post I've read has struck so many chords. Visiting here has been like an enchanting wander through a very special library or bookshop, where ever-unfolding shelves are heaped high with reading treasures - a magical mix of much-loved old favourites and exciting new discoveries. Since finding my way to 'The Eclectic Book Gatherer' (thanks so much for linking to my blog - I was so thrilled to see it listed in your sidebar!) - I've enjoyed such absorbed, calm moments reading your lovely journeys into books. I've felt like a child in a sweet shop reading your posts about 'The Midnight Folk,' Alan Garner, folklore, vintage fiction, countryside books, history, Peter Ackroyd, Mary Stewart, Agatha Christie... well, the list goes on! Wonderful also to see such beautiful illustration and book cover design celebrated here.

    As for reading plans... well, mine always seem to be well-made at first, but like those string bags that so easily fray when too many books are piled into them, they always seem to fall apart! Like you, my mind becomes sidetracked by spontaneous inspirations and intriguing discoveries along the way. And somehow, for me, certain times of year seem to lure me towards certain corresponding types of reading... I love the unexpected, serendipitous feel of it all, but do feel that sense of guilt and laziness at not getting on with my plans too!

    So interesting to see you have Jane Brown's 'Spirits of Place' - I have a copy which I discovered during a recent visit to the wonderful Barter Books in Northumberland. I'd not heard of the book before, and I was so delighted with my find! Happy reading - I'm very much looking forward to reading about wherever you books and interests take you next!

    Melanie (Bookish Nature)

    1. Hello Melanie, thank you very much for such a glowing compliment, you made my day! Your delightful description of this site is exactly the sort of atmosphere I want it to have and try to relate. Yes, I find the book covers to be important too, and try to keep to attractive ones (being an artist with an eye for pretty things makes me place much importance on visuals). Now you've made me think that perhaps I should have named it The Sweet Shop!

      Thank you for taking the time to write, it's greatly appreciated. I intend to explore your excellent blog in further depth too. Happy reading, Lori