I acquire books at a faster rate than I can read them. This is true of most book lovers. My to-read shelf gets heavier and heavier and will need to be upgraded soon.
A few years ago I discovered Games Workshop’s Horus Heresy series. It was gothic science fiction but a bit lacking in female characters and any subject other than WAR. I got hooked and at some point I realized I had spent six months reading nothing but fiction that came from a miniatures company. That was sad.
So I instituted a rotation policy. Simply put, I listed six types of books I liked to read. When I read a book, I fitted it into one of those six slots and put a little check mark on my list. I wouldn’t return to that book type until I filled the other five.
Mostly. I am not super strict about it. If I read a wonderful trilogy, I’ll devour it and list it three times in the appropriate slot. The rotation isn’t a solemn vow; it is an attempt to be more mindful of what I read.
The slots change but here is my current rotation.
Porn is my first slot. I enjoy porn but I also need to keep reading it as a writer of porn. Most of my porn books these days come from Kindle. The rest are paperbacks, usually printed in the 1990’s. There are some truly great porn paperbacks out there, but sadly most of them are stuffed with filler. When reading paperback porn, I usually dedicate thirty minutes a day to reading it, while I read another book for fun.
Tanith Lee is in my second slot. She is one of my favorite all time writers but I realized I had only read a small fraction of her work. Every book is full of flowery prose and wonderful mood, which can make them feel like something you save for a special occasion. I’m trying to resist that impulse and just read more of her.
As a side note, this slot used to be for Ian Fleming’s Bond books. They can be hard to read one right after another but work much better spaced out.
My third slot is for the Destroyer series written by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. It is an action series with over a hundred books. It is also racist, misogynistic, and super conservative. I can’t recommend it in good conscious but the series has my favorite father/son relationship of all time, as well as being wonderfully paced and full of great pulp ideas. They are short enough that I can read one in a day and often serves as a good palate cleanser after a much more thoughtful book.
My fourth slot is simply Horror. My current stack has Richard Laymon, Joe Hill, Brian Keene, Bryan Smith and Clive Barker.
This slot used to for Lumley’s Necroscope books. The average book was five hundred pages long, and there is over a dozen books. You can see why that series needed its own slot.
The fifth slot is for non-fiction or role-playing games. I highly recommend all writers read more non-fiction. Real life is bizarre as fuck.
I don’t play role-playing games any more but I can’t resist buying some of the cooler ones. Kickstarter has also tempted me into spending way too much money for some truly gorgeous books. I justify reading these game books because they almost always inspire my writing in some way.
Finally we have the Wild Card slot. Wild Card is anything that doesn’t fit into the previous slots. Tim Powers fits that description a lot. Science fiction books end up here, and more rarely, fantasy books.
So there you have it. I have heard that other people have a similar setup. What is in your rotation?