I don't plan my reading. I don't have books I "bump up the TBR". I don't look at my books and say which is going to be read when. It doesn't work for me, I never do it, and I can never stick to my plan. Readalong? Nope. Book club? Not going to happen. Even just saying, "The next book I read will be..." just ends up getting tossed in the corner by the time I come to choose a book.
Which is why I inevitably never end up reading the books that I technically should be reading. Say I check a book out from the library. I have a limited period to read it. One would expect that I would prioritize that book... but I don't. Or a recently released book. I should review it around the same time as everyone else. Instead, I usually end up reading it four years later, after the hype, the hype backlash and the re-hype have all faded away. And by then, nobody is really supposed to care anymore.
There's this concept in the literary world (and particularly the book blogging world) that books need to be read "on time". For official review outlets like the NYTBR, it makes sense that they would review only new books - that's part of their job description. But for so many book bloggers to focus so pointedly on having reviews of new books hot off the presses - coupled with the review outlet mentality, it seems to encourage our general collective amnesia. Books published only two years ago feel old. What would it look like if I suddenly posted a review of The Casual Vacancy, which still sits unopened on my shelf? Or if I read and enjoyed The Savage Detectives? I've seen so many bloggers post these funny disclaimers of "yes, I know everyone and their mother has already read this..." before posts about slightly older books, but is it really a problem? Do we all need to read the same books at the same time?
I understand wanting to feel a sense of belonging. Reading books together and at the same time provides a nicely structured sense of community, and is a great outlet for literary discourse. But I feel like we've taken it a bit too far. We don't need to wait fifty or a hundred years to explore the backlogs. Books published fifteen or ten or even five years ago may still be incredible and relevant today. We don't need rules about how to read - when and why and what. Flexibility is important. Time and space are important.
So I'll continue reading books on my own time. I'm willing to wait a bit. And if everyone has already read the book - all the better. Now we can talk about it.