A Challenge – Bringing Back our Roots

Yesterday I went to the library (twice). I had my kid with me on the second trip. She’s two (on the 15th) and absolutely obsessed with the moon. We were wandering through the isles (while she was yelling, “WHAT’S THAT?!” at the top of her lungs). I was just looking to see what the library had when she happened upon the book pictured here, The Mad Scientists Daughter. I didn’t even notice it for about five minutes but she has superhero eyesight when she sees moons or dogs. I picked it up, having never heard of it, and decided to give it a read. Why? Because it has a moon on the cover and that excites my kid, and I’m not out anything if I don’t like it.

The thing about reviewing is that sometimes it’s a doubled edged sword. So often I’m buried under piles of what I “should” be reading that I have no time to just randomly pick up a book and feel the joy of discovery. I predict everything and I analyze everything in ways I never did before I started this website. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world, but sometimes I miss that simple act of literary discovery and adventure that I rarely feel anymore. Now days, if a blog that I frequently read hasn’t talked about it, or a publisher/author hasn’t sent it to me, chances are I have no idea the book even exists. I rarely just wander and pick out books for the hell of it. That’s kind of sad.

Discovery is part of what is so incredible about reading. It’s the discovery and wonder that pulls me in and makes reading so addicting. While I do feel that to one extent or another every time I pick up a book, it’s never quite acute as it was yesterday when I randomly picked up a book because my kid was obsessed with the moon on the cover.

I gave it some thought, and I figured that I’m probably not the only person who feels this way. I’m not a huge “challenge” person (honestly, I think reading challenges are stupid, and yes, I realize that is the pot calling the kettle black). That being said, I’m having a lot of fun with my random-picking-up-of-books experiment, and it’s invigorating me in ways I haven’t felt invigorated in a long time. I’m deciding to spread the wealth and challenge all of my readers to go to the library/book store/friends house/wherever and pick up a book you’ve never heard of for the hell of it, and read it. Don’t analyze it. Don’t look it up on fourteen different websites to see what other people thought about it. Just pick up a book you’ve never heard of, open it, and read it. That’s it. Those are the rules.

Let me know what you end up picking up and why. Once you read it, let me know what you thought of it. Let’s get back to our reading roots from the pre-internet days before we all had blogs and Amazon and Goodreads where we could check book reviews and etc. That’s what this whole “challenge” is about – getting back to the good ol’ days and re-discovering the unbiased joy of literary discovery.

I’ll readdress this “challenge” at the end of August and I’ll let you guys know all the books I randomly picked up and started reading, and if it’s impacted my reading style at all. I hope others participate so we can have a discussion… or something.

So there you go. Will you participate? What do you think?

6 Responses

  • I”m in. This is exactly how I came across Theresa Frohock’s debut “Miserere” – a totally random discovery, and it was magnificent. I’m all excited now. I just promised myself two weeks of nothing but reading (assuming I meet my submission deadline today). This is going to be fun.

    • I hope you meet your deadline. That should be a lot of stress off, and it means that I get closer to reading your book. 🙂 I’m glad you are in. It’s been a lot of fun for me, and I look forward to continuing the process.

  • Sounds like an interesting challenge. I do that now and again in bookstores, getting a book based solely on the synopsis and having never heard of it or wanted it before. But it’s been a while since I’ve done it. I think the last time was with Freda Warrington’s “Elfland” (and I still haven’t read that one, to be truthful). So yeah, I’m game. Can’t say for sure how many books I’ll end up doing this with, but I’ll give it a shot for at least 2.

  • Brittney

    I do grab random books whenever I’m at the library. Reading, them afterwards, is another story. So I’ll give this a try. I just picked up Hikikomori and the Rental Sister, so I’ll try to finish this before I return it on the due date.

  • Somehow I missed this blog post in my news feed so I hope that I am not too late to the party. I am always picking up books from the new release section just based on the cover and the dust jacket description. I try resist the urge to whip out my iphone and open Goodreads to read what others have said about it. I like to wax nostalgic on the days before Amazon, Goodreads, and the like when, as a broke high school or college student, all I had were a precious few dollars to spend on a book. I took this chance back in 1995 when I bought C.S. Friedman’s Black Sun Rising, which remains my favorite book to this day. Ok, enough of me reminiscing :-). I hope it it not too late to participate in this challenge. Yesterday I picked up “Elisha Barber” by E.C. Ambrose.

    • I think that’s great that you do that. I hardly ever do anymore. It’s frustrating, but I find it surprisingly thrilling when I do pick up books just for the hell of it. It’s an adventure I think I’ve forgotten to enjoy over the past few years.

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