In today’s Morning Links, I shared a GigaOM article on media habits. Meanwhile, on the other side of the internet was this Lifehacker story on how to cull an over-run Netflix queue. It seems media filtering is on people’s minds!
The GigaOM article sums it up thusly: “Creating web content is incredibly easy — but filtering content is really hard.” And that is as true for books as it is for click bait, Netflix queues, or any other media type. So, if we agree that ‘filtering’ is a problem, what can we do about it? Our fine friends at Lifehacker have two main recommendations for taming your wish list clutter,
1) Stop adding things to your queue.
I suppose the book-take on that would be the library or Amazon wish list, but I am not brave enough to do as they suggest and just stop adding. I might miss something good! I go through my wish lists every month or so (when the library tells me I have put too many things on hold) so my wish list never gets too out of control, and I am a good culler. I add away, then consider my purchases when culling time hits.
2) Find your ‘albatross’ and cull accordingly.
Your ‘albatross’ is the stuff you add to your list intending to enjoy, and yet you never seem to choose it when it’s time to do the enjoying. For me, this is two kinds of book: buzzed-about stuff which often is not my genre but for which I succumb to the hype, and classics or educational books which I fully intend to read someday and never do.
For the first kind, I find that when the hype dies down, it’s much easier to be realistic. The wish list is like a holding pen that way, to give me time for the impulse-buy mentality to wear off. First, I’ll go through and delete the obvious ‘not my thing’ books. Then I take off the ones where I read the title and can’t recall what the book was about. Sometimes, I leave it there—if I still want it, but have too much to read, and/or don’t want to send the money right now. Other times, I delete on the spot!
The more educational books are a harder one for me. I have some lingering insecurities about perceived gaps in my education resulting from an early childhood spent at a religious school. We had no time for extras since we were killing half the day on the Bible stuff! So I have always felt like my education in the areas of art, music and the humanities was lacking, and in spite of seven years of post-secondary education (including an English degree!) I still can be tempted by books which promise to address these gaps. And as a teacher myself, I am always tempted by education-themed titles…
But of course, as both of the articles I read this morning pointed out, there is not enough time in the world for All of the Stuff, so I have found my best weapon is the Kindle sample. Usually, it’s enough for a full table of contents browse, and then a feel for the opening chapters. I prune accordingly.