I have a goal at the beginning of each year to read one book a week. Last year I managed to read 16 books, so not great! But also not too shabby either.
My favorite books I read last year were Swamplandia!, a sort of magical realist tale set in the swamp of rural Florida, and The Paying Guests, a lesbian love story set in inter-war England. Both books have female protagonists, which is awesome.
I like to be pretty deliberate about my reading schedule and goals. I don’t like to read too many of the same kinds of books in a row. I like to read books that coincide with what’s happening in my life — so right now I’m interested in books about women traveling and books about the Netherlands. It also takes me a long time to finish a book. This improved somewhat when I purchased an e-reader, since I can have a book with me at all times, but I still struggle to read as much as I want to. I have almost 500 books in my Goodreads to-read list, which even at 52 books a year will take me a decade to finish. That’s kind of depressing.
Did you know 2016 actually has 53 weeks in it? AND it’s a leap year. I was generous to myself and made my reading goal for this year 50 books. Here’s how I plan to meet that goal.
Any Book I’m Interested In Goes Into Goodreads
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. If I see someone raving about a book online that sounds worthwhile, or hear a segment on the radio that piques my interest, I’ll immediately add that book to my to-read list using the Goodreads app on my iPhone. Having the list stored on Goodreads does a couple of things:
- It gets the book out of my brain so I don’t have to keep thinking about it or feel anxiety about a stack of books by my bed.
- If or when I’m at a bookstore (usually Half-Price Books) I always have a list of books I’m interested in with me.
Buy Books Only When I’m Ready To Read Them
I’m a little less strict about this rule, but I honestly get serious anxiety about having massive stacks of unread books around my house. Although I was SUPER resistant to e-books in the beginning, these days that’s almost all I read. I love e-books for a number of reasons:
- Portability — I love both my Kindle and my iPad mini. (I also have a Kobo but it gets used a lot less often.)
- Highlighting — I used to have a major hangup about putting permanent marks in lovely paper books.
- Search — It’s SO MUCH EASIER to search for passages in an e-book versus a dead-tree book.
- Space — I just moved to the other side of the Atlantic and didn’t have to take a gigantic box of books with me.
Sometimes if I’m at Half Price Books and find a book I know is on my reading list, I’ll snag it, especially if it’s in good shape and a good price. I recently bought an entire shelf of Ali Smith’s books at HPB because I loved her book The Accidental so much. Otherwise, unless there’s a special sale, I won’t buy a Kindle book until the day I decide to start reading it.
Yes, I have a spreadsheet for everything my reading schedule. I like to start books on a Sunday (because, if you haven’t figured this out yet, I am a super fastidious person). And I like to give myself a few days leeway, so that I can also spend time reading things like blogs and the stories I’ve saved to Pocket, or in case I get behind in a book. So I give myself five days to read each book. If it’s a paper book, I’ll divide the number of pages by 5, and input that goal into my spreadsheet for each day. It’s easier if I’m reading a book on the Kindle. I’ll just aim to read 20% of the book each day. Have a look at my spreadsheet here.
My spreadsheet works like a rolling list. Once I finish a book I delete those cells from the top and add new books to the bottom. I never have more than four or five books on the sheet, but using it allows me to plan in advance what books I want to read. This comes in handy if, for example, I’m going on vacation and want something less cerebral. Also, back when I ran a book club I scheduled our meeting dates into the spreadsheet so I could always make sure to finish the book in time for our meetings.
So that’s it — intentional reading. Do you have a reading goal for 2016?