There are life coaches for helping you get your life in order and to plan out your career path. There are personal trainers to help you get physically fit or in shape for a fitness challenge. There are spiritual directors who help you to pray and improve your relationship with God.
I want a literary director.
I want someone to help me choose what books to read based on my personal interests, what I’ve already read, what I have sitting unread on my bookshelves and in my Kindle, and what will best serve me in the future.
Right now, I choose my books to read haphazardly. Of course, Melanie has her suggestions; she’s a former English professor and book nerd, after all. And she’s made some good suggestions, including the works of one her favorite authors, Guy Gavriel Kay. But I’m not sure she can be completely objective. Don’t get me wrong; I know she loves me, but as a book nerd I think it may be tempting to recommend what she likes rather than what I should read right now.
I also get book suggestions from Goodreads, seeing what my friends there are reading and have read. I listen to a lot of podcasts and many of them will suggest books occasionally. Some of my favorite recent books have been found that way, including books about winemaking in France and a new science fiction series. Sometimes they come from an Amazon recommendation or a newspaper article.
What I want is a disinterested, objective third party who will assess the corpus of books I have read, my current reading interests and hobbies, and my personal objectives in life to help me create a reading list. There are the books I read for fun, including a number of ongoing series: the Tom Clancy novels being written under his name posthumously, Star Wars and Star Trek novels; as well as books by favored authors like Naomi Novik. There are the books I read for fun and edification on topics like the history of the Crusades or on the Guinness family or the maple syrup industry. There are books for spiritual and personal growth, including papal documents and philosophical and theological texts. And books that help me in my job that cover communications and social media and writing.
But there are only so many hours in the day! And so many good books that I keep adding to the list! Just this morning I was listening to the Word on Fire podcast where Bishop Robert Barron gives a list of good books to read on philosophy and I was thinking how I’d like to read some of them.
And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I often hear from friends about their massive piles of unread books and wondering how to make it through them all.
So if you’re someone who loves books, but can set aside your own preferences in order to help others reach their goals, I think there may be a career waiting for you as a literary director. And I may be your first client.
Now, literary director, should I read this new Star Wars novelization about General Leia or St. Augustine’s Confessions next?
Update: I find I need to clarify. I’m not looking for book recommendations. I have no dearth of books I want to read. I have piles and piles of books I want to read. There are dozens of podcasts, blogs, and articles recommending books to read. What I need is someone who can help me sort through it all to develop a plan to read the books I already have or want to read.
Perhaps an analogy will help. There are all kinds of newsletter and blogs and podcasts to recommend hot stocks and mutual funds. But what I need is a financial planner to help me create a retirement investment plan that will leave me with enough income to live on when I retire. What I need is not a financial planner, but a literary planner.