I like to say that I read for a living, because it sounds better than "I sell things for a living." And it is basically true. As a bookseller, I get advanced review copies of books 3-6 months before they come out, and if I don't read them, I feel kind of like a fraud trying to sell them. "Here's this book! Some people say it's the next great American novel! They might be right!" Just not my style. So I am basically always reading ARCs, constantly reading months ahead in a way that makes me sometimes forget what month it actually is. Add to that friendly and helpful sales reps who are always pressing books into my hands, saying that I simply must read this, and oh by the way, can I send them a quick write-up when I'm done? It sounds a bit like homework, but if it is, it's the fun kind of homework that I always liked having to do anyway (like sheets and sheets of long division and vocabulary words, which I swear, I actually loved). But once a year, I like to stop running in place with ARCs, and read a few books I've always meant to read. I plan these books out all year, and have them packed and ready for my week at the lake.
Last year I read The Secret History by Donna Tartt, My Life in France by Julia Child, and the story collection The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro. I loved that I finally understood why people are obsessed with The Secret History (and with Julia Child). And the Alice Munro just validated my belief that she's our greatest living short story writer, and a treasure.
This year I have a growing list: The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (I know! I never read it!) by Stephen Chbosky, Prodigal Summer and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, something by Jane Gardam, and Anna Karenina.
I know, I know. Reading Anna Karenina in a week is a stretch. But I hope to get to a few of them. The rest I'll just have to roll on to next year's list.