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TSS: Halfway Through the Year of Reading Deliberately

First of all, Happy Fourth of July to all Americans reading this blog!  I hope you’re outside celebrating and watching fireworks later on.

This year, I resolved to read more deliberately.  By that, I mean reading what I want to, when I want to, without worrying too much about books I “should” be reading.  It’s about getting to those books I’ve meant to read for years.  I’ve radically cut down on the number of review copies I accept – my parents have actually asked me why I’m suddenly not getting many books at home – and I’ve chosen only the ones that I would purchase if I saw them in the store.

I also decided to try and buy fewer books, but that isn’t happening and is a goal I’ve basically given up on.  I have been buying at least a few every month and it’s an addiction I’ve more or less decided to allow myself.  I don’t really buy anything else and now that I have a second shelf, I have a little room for them.

Now that it’s July, I thought it would be a pretty good idea to see how I’m doing with my goals overall.  I have definitely been making more conscious choices.  The last book I read, The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan, was one I’d had since 2008 and wanted to read pretty much the whole time, so I was happy to clear that off, especially since it didn’t quite live up to expectations.  And I’ve just started Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay.  He’s one of my favorite authors and I was determined not to let his newest book languish underneath shorter, more convenient books.

Unfortunately, though, I can’t really say that I’ve done so well throughout the first six months of the year.  I’m still regularly choosing books that are shorter and easier because I know I’ll get them read faster, especially now that it takes me a day longer to read everything than I was used to.  I still get frustrated if I haven’t finished a book fast enough.  And even with my vastly reduced intake of review copies, I’ve managed to read more of them than I have of my own books.  While it’s good that I’m clearing out some backlog I’ve had for far too long, I would rather the balance tipped the other way in future.  Library books are a distant third; I love the library and free books that carry no obligations, but I find I’d rather clear a book off my TBR pile than devote a few days to a library book.  I’d also like to change this.

So what’s my plan, going forward?  I don’t know yet.  I’ve considered resurrecting my schedule of a TBR book, a library book, and a review book.  I like having a concrete stack of what’s ahead, but I’m worried I’ll rebel against myself, something I’ve done way too often in the past.  I’ve considered trying to challenge myself to read all the books I’ve acquired in 2010 by the end of the year, which should actually be an easy accomplishment if I don’t buy any more, but we all know that isn’t going to happen.

Since I’m going to visit my parents for a couple of weeks this month, I’ve decided to leave it open for now and do as I please.  In August, I’ll try to come up with a plan for choosing my reading more carefully, without automatically selecting a short book over a long one.  But in the meantime, I’d like to ask you an important question: how do you choose what to read next?

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16 comments to TSS: Halfway Through the Year of Reading Deliberately

  • I think you’ve done well this year so far. You may not have done everything you’ve set out to do, it sounds to me like you’re more mindful of what you’re accepting and picking up. I’m getting ready to make some radical changes myself. You’ve beat me to the punch with your mid-year report. :)

    Have a safe trip Stateside. Those couple of weeks will go by fast, but I’m sure you’re really looking forward to them.
    Literate Housewife´s last post …Tales of a 5th Grade Readaholic

  • It sounds like you’re doing great though I do understand wanting to read more books from your TBR pile than library and review copies. I haven’t been much from my TBR pile though I really want to change that too. I pick up whatever interests me. I’m trying to stop checking out so many library books. Instead I put the books on my TBR list on Goodreads instead of automatically placing a book on hold. I can’t wait to see what you end up deciding what to do.

  • I’ve stopped accepting most review copies and my father has asked me why I am not getting so many books anymore. Of course, he has about 20 times more unread books than I do. Maybe it’s hereditory.
    Lenore´s last post …Book Review- Borderline by Allan Stratton

  • Thats a very good question! I always try to read my oldest books on my shelf first and on the whole this is working out not too badly. I used to find that it was always the thicker books which were being left on my shelf so I made a decission to read these.
    Jessica´s last post …Catch my meaning

  • I say don’t stress about it all too much – just enjoy what you read. Carl just told me I spent on books last year, so that’s an addiction I have too.

  • Review books can get overwhelming, I agree. I try to mix these up with what I want to read. Consequently, my books don’t follow any pattern. I like to mix up short books with longer books. This gives me a little more sense of accomplishment. Sometimes if the book is long and not too exciting it frustrates me. I want to read everything and anything else.
    I have no set priority of what I will read next it is entirely random and predicated by mood.

    Enjoy part two of your year. :)

  • A couple of years ago I put all of the books I owned and haven’t read yet into a spreadsheet in the order I planned to read them. I even color coded it so that books about the same person or time period are spread out. As I get new books, they get entered into the spreadsheet – review books get placed in a spot that’s about where in the list I should be during the month they have to be reviewed. Books that I buy are mixed in throughout so that they aren’t all at the top of the list but they aren’t all at the bottom either. It seems to work…

    For the most part, I only accept one review book a month – I do make certain exceptions if the books are really high on my “want” list but I’ve only have a few months this year where that’s planned.
    Daphne´s last post …Monthly Mailbox – June 2010

  • I have a spreadsheet where I list the books I have out from the library with the due dates, any review books that have to be read by a certain date, and any books that I have said that I will have read by that time, and that pretty much determines what I read next. I am trying to be a little more selective in terms of review books but you just know that when other people start reviewing books that you will regret not accepting at least some of them.

    Good luck with the rest of your year of reading deliberately.
    Marg´s last post …Twilight- The Graphic Novel Vol 1 – Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim

  • For me it depends if I have a review copy that I need to read at the time. I usually request 2 or 3 review copies a month, and rotate in books from the library and books from my shelf. Those that I read from the library or my shelf are usually random choices – whatever I’m in the mood for. Whenever I look at my shelves I find things that I want to read right now, but make myself wait since I’ve usually already got several books going at one time.

    I know what you mean about long books though. I started reading Shogun by James Clavell while on vacation, and although I’m 150 pages into it I really don’t like it so far. I feel bad judging it without continuing on, since it’s 1200 pages long. But really, should I suffer through 1200 pages if it’s that way all the way through? I intend to read at least 50 more pages before I make up my mind about it.
    Alyce´s last post …The Sunday Salon – July 4

  • I choose what to read next by what makes me want to the cry the most about how backlogged I am on reviews! :-) Sad but true.

  • It sounds like you are at least somewhat successful at keeping your goals, so maybe just a step up in what you are doing will work. I have a lot of review books to read, and that mostly dictates my reading schedule, but every once in awhile, I come across something that I must read now, and I put everything else aside to get to it. I really have to do that more often though, and read more of my own choices. I know how hard it can be to read deliberately at times.
    zibilee´s last post …Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn — 480 pgs

  • Whatever pops into my head is what I read. That usually works pretty well. Sometimes I try to ignore it, and wind up reading utter dreck. :P
    heidenkind´s last post …Musical Notes

  • It is such a hard balance! Unfortunately, I am on the opposite end as you are–I find myself reading WAY too many library books and leaving my review copies and personal books in the dust. I have tried to be more methodical recently about which books I read and from where, but it never ends up working!
    Stephanie´s last post …Book Review- My Fair Lazy

  • Every time I come up with a plan, I fail. So I simply list tour books and book club books in my calendar and wing the rest of it. There is no rhyme or reason to my reading list.
    Beth F´s last post …Review- A Place for Delta by Melissa Walker

  • It’s been a free-wheeling year for me. Very deliberate in making choices that I really WANT TO READ. Going with my mood is really the only sure way to keep me out of a slump. And we all know a slump is a fate worse than death.

    Good luck with the next half of the year!
    Andi´s last post …Grow It Like Ya Mean It

  • I just look through my tbr pile and choose the book that most fits my mood that moment. Sometimes I’m in a mood for a short paranormal romance, other times I’m in the mood for a long hardcore scifi book. If you’ve been picking a lot of short books lately, maybe that’s just what you’re in the mood for. But don’t ever let your reading turn into a chore for the blog!