Last week I was walking into the library, carrying a gigantic stack of books to return, when I bumped into a friend carrying an equally giant stack she’d just checked out.
We laughed about our respective loads. My friend said, “In a perfect world, there would be no due dates.”
I agreed, and we went our respective ways.
But later, I got to thinking—and I realized I’m quite happy to live in a world with due dates. I don’t think I’d read nearly as much, or as carefully, without them.
My shelves are overflowing (literally, at the moment) with books I want to read. I have a whole library system at my disposal. My local bookstore can track down almost anything I want.
Deciding what to read is a problem. With so many books to read, how can I possibly decide what to read when? What to read next?
I’m often guilty of telling myself I’ll get around to reading a certain book one day. A good deadline forces me to ask myself if I’m ready to read it right now. (If I’m not, does it even belong on my TBR list? Sometimes, but not always.)
Bookish deadlines can take many forms.
Sometimes it’s a library due date. That’s why I finally read Edenbrooke: I’d checked it out of the library several times before, and returned it every time unread. When another due date (with no renewals available!) rolled around last month, I couldn’t bear the thought of returning it unread, again.
Sometimes it’s an event: book club is obvious, but coffee with a friend is often enough. When I have a coffee date on my calendar, I want to show up having read the book she pushed into my hands last time we saw each other. That’s why I read Ready Player One.
Sometimes it’s a friend who’s itching to borrow a book. That’s why I’m plowing through The Art of Memoir right now as my top priority: my friend can’t wait to read it when I’m done.
Sometimes it’s a blog post: I bumped The Secret History to the top of my stack because I wanted to know if it was worth including in the campus novels post. I’ve been meaning to read it for years; the self-imposed deadline finally made me do it.
Sometimes it’s Quick Lit. Many of you have told me that the monthly link-up helps you plan your reading, and inspires you to make sure you’ve read a book or three or five before the 15th rolls around.
Don’t get me wrong: I still have my moments of raging against deadlines, and it’s always sad to return unread library books.
But do I think they’re overall a good thing for my reading? Absolutely.
How do you feel about due dates and deadlines? Tell me all about it in comments.