Images links to FB Event Page

If I could add up all the hours that I spend deciding what to read, I’d’ve read through Proust and Ulysses and Melville and Barshetshire and Les Mis a million times. At least.

So you can see why I’ve spent an untoward amount of time thinking about what to read for Orange January.

Partly because all those big books that I worry about “not having read yet” are all by the canonical boys, and this is another opportunity to reverse the trend.

Partly because I’m bent to obsess about reading lists. Many of you are bent that way too.

So I spent waaaaaay too long thinking about my reading list for this event. (You can check out Jill’s page here, if all this is new to you.)

First, I thought I’d fill the gaps with the winners I haven’t read yet. That would be six books: Berne, Levy, Dunmore, Grant, Smith, and Robinson.

But that was immediately complicated because Robinson’s isn’t really just one book, is it. I’d have to read Gilead first — and I’ve tried that once and was really in the wrong mood or something — and, anyway that would be seven books, and I’ve got a lot of other books to read in January already…

Next, I thought I’d read the biggest ones. (Like Baldwin’s, Benitez’s,Cisneros’, and DeWitt’s…and that’s just starting at ‘A’.)

I have a habit of collecting Orangies, especially the fattest ones because it’s awkward borrowing them from the library, and then neglecting them on my shelves while I borrow other books from the library and read those instead). If I read the biggest Orangies and didn’t love them to juicy li’l bits, I could make some room on my beleaguered bookshelves.

But that was foolish, right? My month would be filled with updates like “Now I”m on page 38” and “Now I’m on page 72” and “Now I’m on page 75”.

Then, I thought the shortlisted titles would be perfect: just enough to choose from — 23, I think — so that it doesn’t feel like a homework assignment and my reading mood can swing around a little, not so many to choose from that it doesn’t feel like I’m progressing.

(If you want a quick way to check which titles are long- and short-listed, they are all on the Orange January/July group on LibraryThing.)

But out of all the Orangies on my shelves, I’m missing a lot of the shortlisted titles, and I am trying to read from my own shelves these days (see above for tendencies towards abusive library usage).

So then I thought maybe I”d read all of Toni Morrison’s books, because she’s one of my MRE (Must Read Everything authors) and I’d love to read those three (Love, Paradise, A Mercy), but three books isn’t quite enough for a month of Orangies.

Which was helpful. What a breakthrough. I now knew that somewhere between 3 and 7 is the right answer for me.

So I started looking at combos. Maybe Dunmore’s and the dual Duffy’s; that would be 6 (and a winner and a shortlisted title to boot). Jensen’s and the two Jones’s: another six. Or, if six was too strenuous, the Robinson’s and the Rogers’ (for a total of four).

But a lot of those were missing from my own shelves too. I have to keep my library usage in check for at least the first couple of weeks of 2012, right?

At this point I’m realizing that I’m spent enough time to have read through a couple of volumes of Proust — not translated, either (yes, THAT long) — and I’m eyeing the stack of books that I’ve yet to finish for December — so I had to get serious.

So. I’m choosing 5 novels from this stack. Astute Orange-lovers will recognize the theme.

Click to avoid the squint