BOOKS THAT JUMP THE QUEUE

I’ve already admitted to being something of a rebel in that I read more than one book at a time, but I am, for the most part, orderly in how I choose which book I’m reading first and which ones I put off for later.  Usually, since I get my books from the library (duh!), I choose the book that’s going to have to be returned first, or the one that’s so hot I know I won’t get a chance to renew it if I need more time (this is an advantage of working in a library, of course), or I’ll read the one for the book group that’s coming up first, before I start on one that I’m reading just for myself, and so forth.

However, sometimes there are books that make me an anarchist of sorts, that jump the queue and cause me to drop whatever else I’m reading to make room for them.

At this moment, for instance, I was reading a couple of other books when suddenly I got Alison Bechdel’s The Secret of Superhuman Strength on hold.  I’d been waiting for that book since it first was published, and it seemed to have been in transit forever (probably it was just a couple of days, but you know how it is when you’re eagerly waiting for something; time changes its meaning entirely). As soon as I got the book into my hot little hands, I put everything else aside and dove into it. I was, naturally, aware that I was throwing my reading schedule into complete disarray and that there was a non-zero chance that I would lose track of the other books I’d been reading, but that was a price I was willing to pay.

Sometimes the queue-jumping book is like that one, something I’ve been waiting for eagerly for a while and know I might not be able to get again quickly.  Sometimes it’s a book by a favorite author (hi, Jo Nesbo, hi, Seanan McGuire), or a book in a series I’ve been following assiduously.  Sometimes it’s a book I know I’m only going to have for a short time, so I have to read it now or lose it for months (this is not an exaggeration; some really popular books have hold lists in the three or even four figures).  Sometimes it’s a book I’ve just taken out, and glanced through in an idle moment (yes, I do have some of those), and have been sucked into hopelessly as if I’d stepped on the edge of a black hole. 

It’s always a pain when the new book that’s thrown everything into disarray turns out to be less wonderful than I wanted; then I feel all the guilt of putting other books aside for this one.  That’s usually not the case, though.  I don’t pull this stunt unless I’m really REALLY excited about the new book, and nine times out of ten, when I’m that excited about the book, it lives up to my expectations.

So don’t be embarrassed if you fall in love with a book and cast all the other things you’re reading aside.  You’re not in school anymore (probably), and you don’t need to be rigid about what you’re reading and how orderly you are about your To Be Read pile. The delicious pleasure of reading out of order, devouring something now just because you can’t wait another minute to read it, is worth all the guilt, trust me.

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