So Many Books, So Little Time
Many people view January 1st as a day of new beginnings. The resolutions people make going into the new year vary as much as the people who make them. Many people make themselves a promise to read more, sometimes they even give themselves a specific goal. I know a fair few people who have decided to read 50 books in the coming year.
We look at a number like 50 and think, oh yeah, that’s not too many. Except when you stop and consider how many that is in context to your free time.
If you work, have a family, and any other social engagements it will, of course, limit how much time you have to devote to reading every week. And remember, to hit 50 books in a year, you need to finish 0.96 books a week. So if you really want, we can round that to one a week with a two week reading vacation where your other responsibilities are just so overwhelming that all you can manage is staring blankly at what might as well be a wall while Netflix plays in the background.
When assessing your reading goal and whether or not you really think it’s achievable, consider which books it is you want to read. If you want to read any 50 books in a year? That’s very possible. Grab yourself a stack of Louis L’Amour or Harlequins and you’re good to go. BUT if you have specifics in mind it might take more than a week to get through some of those popular monsters out there.
I personally find that I read fiction much quicker than I do non-fiction. However, non-fiction definitely makes up more than ⅔ of my current reading list.
It will absolutely take me longer to read Applebaum’s “The Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe” than it will to read Brockmann’s “Into the Night.”
Here are some tips for organizing your reading list to make it more manageable.
1) Get help!
There are a variety of tools out there to help you keep track of and manage your reading lists. The obvious big #1 is Goodreads, of course. My only problem with using Goodreads for this, is the ease of adding new books. My ‘to-read’ list is getting wildly out of control, and with over 300 titles I realize I need some help.
So far I have found myself partial to the old fashioned notebook and pen. I bought a super cute notebook and have been using it to manage everything, including my immediate reading list. When you use pen and paper, or a post-it and paper, its best to keep it limited to about 5-10 books at a time. That way it isn’t pages upon pages long and at first glance it is achievable. Physically crossing something off a list is a lot more satisfying than you'd think.
If you are interested in something very detailed, I recommend checking out this amazing spreadsheet mentioned in this Book Riot post. It is extraordinarily detailed and can help you track your reading trends.
2) Have rules!
Some people institute rules based on critical acclaim. Nothing under 4 stars from amazon makes it onto their list. Personally I'm not a fan of this rule, but there are plenty of other places to take your reviews and ratings, like Goodreads, New York Times, Kirkus reviews and more. There are also a variety of solid book bingos out there that have you read outside of your genre and put some more thought into the authors you pick up.
The be all and end all of rules, however, is simple. Take clear consideration of every book you add and really ask yourself: Will I really read this?
3) Pare it down!
I feel like I can guarantee that you’ve either bought, or have, books on your reading list that you aren’t going to read. Goodness knows I certainly do.
Basically if your reading hoard is stressing you out, cut stuff out. Don’t be a book dragon. It’s not healthy.
4) Think about it!
If you are putting your list together with the intent to read them in the order you’ve written them, please keep subject matter and book length in mind. “A Brief History of Seven Killings” (704 pages) is on my list, but it’s sandwiched between a young adult graphic novel and an under 250 page romance.
Don’t schedule yourself too many books with heavy subject matter back to back. It’s always good to break it up when you can.
These are just a few suggestions in how to manage that New Years book resolution and your reading lists. Let us know if you have any tried and true methods!