Sunday, December 20, 2015

Looking Towards 2016

For years, here is how I found books to read.

1.  About 70% of the time, I went to the library and browsed.  When I saw something that looked interesting, I took it home and read it--or didn't, sometimes, but I'm a pretty good judge of my own taste, so usually I read it.

2.  For about 15% of the time, I went looking for sequels or other books by authors I liked.  Usually when I found an author, they were well into, if not done with, any serial writing, so I would read them all one after another.

3.  When I was a kid, the remaining 15% was made up of books my sisters gave me, or that I found around our house.  After I moved out, I developed a habit of browsing bookstores and writing interesting titles down on my checkbook, then looking up those books at the library.  I found about 10% of my books that way, with the remaining 5% being the occasional book someone (still usually one of my sisters) would recommend to me.  There were a few books clubs over the years, but one book every month or two is not a statistically significant amount.  (Not that my percentages here are anything other than quick guesses.)

Around the time when I stopped carrying a checkbook--say 2009--I discovered Goodreads.  Suddenly, I was showing up at the library with more than a few titles scratched down.  Once I got a smartphone, the typical library visit consisted of me pulling up my "to-read" list on my phone, then cross referencing it with what was available on the library computer.  Sometimes I'd go ahead and request a bunch from home, then just pick them up as they came in.  I still browsed the shelves, but the percentage of books I found that was dropped dramatically.

Then this summer, I started book blogging.  Without even realizing it, I was getting buzz on books that weren't even out yet.  It turns out it's much faster to get through the holds list for a book that is just coming out instead of waiting until a book is so popular that I start to see it everywhere.  I also become a reading teacher, and was inspired to up my YA reading count in order to help kids find books they'd connect to.  My to-reads list went from about 200 books to over a thousand (and I discovered that I should refer to it as my TBR pile).

I knew better than to fall down the rabbit hole of ARCS--I'm resentful enough when I win a book in a Goodreads giveaway and then feel obliged to review it promptly.  Still, I am feeling more and more pressure to read more and more books.  I'm a fast reader, but I started feeling--not overwhelmed, exactly, but like I was spinning in circles.  There were books I wanted to read, but then I'd get distracted by some other book, and then I'd forget the plot of the book that I wanted to read the sequel of...

I sat down tonight and took a good look at that thousand-plus to-read pile.  If you handed me any one of those books and put me on a plane, I'd land with it either read or well started.  I'm not saying I'd love every one, but I would at least be interested enough to read them.  The question is, which were the ones I really want to read?

I created a new shelf, named, after some brief but intense internal agonizing, my Reading Hopes for 2016.  ("Goals" and "Plans" both made me tense.  I like to leave myself wiggle room.)  There are 172 books on the list, which is ridiculous.  I've read that many this year, but I know myself well enough to know that I will stray from the list whenever something else catches my attention.  Some of the books on my list are classics, some are backlist books of the last fifteen years or so, and some are brand new.  Most of them are YA, but not all.  There's a little nonfiction, mostly professional reading.  The list overall makes me very happy.

For all that I love spontaneity, I can also nerd out on organizing and processes.  My next goal--be still my beating heart!--is to roughly prioritize the books.  I mean, I HAVEN'T READ WINTER YET!    Clearly, I need to sharpen my focus.

I'm so excited!  I feel content and confident with my reading plans now.

How about you?  What books are closest to the top of your list?    What's your approach to finding books to read?  How much structure do you need?

Here's the shelf as of today!
my reading-hopes-2016 shelf:
Wendy's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (reading-hopes-2016 shelf)


  1. I like this idea. I think I would try to stick to a number much lower than what I know I'm really going to read (this year I read 140 books), to leave room for the new finds I know are going to flood in this year. Still, it would be good to prioritize some books so that I do actually get to them instead of just leaving them buried in the TBR. Good luck with your project!

    1. Yes, my number is a little high; maybe I need to spend this afternoon weeding through my list... (rubs hands together with glee).

  2. Oh my goodness. This is me EXACTLY. All of this! Including making hope lists and prioritizing them. WHY IS THAT SO FUN? :)

    1. In my case I'm guessing it's a combination of how much fun it is to just wander around my virtual bookshelves and dream about all those books, and the feeling of getting control of ONE aspect of my rather chaotic life.

  3. What a great idea! I think I need to prioritize just so I know what to read next and am not floundering for my "next" book just about every time I finish one.

    I wish you luck with your goal!

  4. Love this post! Ever since blogging, my TBR list just keeps growing and growing and growing . . . it's CRAZY! I also follow the Book Riot website and they are awful at introducing me to new books too. Great post though. I love your idea for the reading list for 2016!

    1. Yes, I'm making a point to NOT get onto other book websites and programs, because I know how much time I already spend reading about books instead of actually reading books.

  5. I am the EXACT same way. I love the lists, but when I look at the double-deep books on my bookshelves (which is my TBR pile) AND my as-yet-unused brand new Kindle...I get a little panicky. I've decided I'm going to use a random number generator, then count that many into my books, and whatever the book is that I land on, I'm reading next. Unless, of courses, I'm reading a series in order.

  6. OhmygoshyouhavetoreadWinternow! Fangirling for a moment :) But yes, Winter is beyond awesome and I am so sad that the series has ended.

    I used to browse through the library and local bookstores before. But I usually reserved the book I want to read online rather than go to the library to check out interesting titles.


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