Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to be an avid reader without panicking: 5 tips for not getting discouraged at your growing "to read" list

It seems the more I immerse myself in the "book culture," the greater the disparity between my "to read" list and my "have read" list; the former grows exponentially with every new and amazing book I hear about, while the latter makes a feeble attempt at growth in comparison.

I, and others like me, I am sure, have often wondered, how do I maintain my love of books and my passion for reading without getting discouraged at this inevitable result?  To answer my own question, and hopefully one of your's as well, I have developed a list of 5 suggestions on how to maintain the fire without it getting dimmed by the vast numbers of great books out there.

1. Make a list of books you have already read. In a recent post, one of our contributors, Ingrid, suggested making a book list of books that you have read.  Oftentimes, if you are an avid reader, you have read far more books than you ever realized.  Keeping track of them in a list is a great way to remind yourself of the progress you have already made, and you get that warm, fuzzy feeling of accomplishment when you look at it.

2. Make a list of books you want to read.  This seems like a pretty standard suggestion, but may I go even further to suggest that, once you finish your list (before another gets added in 15 seconds), group those books into "Urgent Reads" and "Eventual Reads."  This can help with that overwhelming feeling when looking at your list of, "Oh Mylanta, where do I begin?"

3. Read book blogs, like, well, us, the Blue Bookcase, though there are lots of other great ones out there.  Reading other people's opinions (who you trust) about books that are on your "to read" list will help you differentiate between books that you are now dying to read and ones that perhaps aren't as urgent of a read to you any more.  Plus, sometimes, I have realized, we want to read certain books more to be able to discuss them with other people more than really wanting to read them.  Reading a well-done review can give you almost as much authority when talking about the text as reading it would have done, and it definitely saves you some time.

4. Take out books from the library.  Trust, me, I can (and do) order books on Amazon with the best of them, but oftentimes, once I have purchased a book, I tend to stick it on my shelf and ignore it.  A great way to solve this dilemma is taking out your "urgent reads" from the library.  This gives you a due date by which to finish the book and an incentive to finish it by then, in the form of a twenty-five cent fine.  Come on, who wants that?  Then, if you decide that your "urgent read" has become a "reread," THEN order it online and stick it on the shelf.

5. Find extra minutes in your day in which to read.  You know those minutes -- when you're on the toilet for an inordinate amount of time, when you're taking your time eating breakfast in the morning, when you're lying in bed before you fall asleep, when you switch on the TV while waiting for a friend to come over or a husband to come home. Spend these few minutes reading -- it will not only get you through more of your books, but it will remind you how much you love reading, and it will also keep you invested in the specific book you are reading.  I find that the longer I wait in between reading sessions for the same book, the less motivated I am to pick it up again, because I am "out" of the plot.  Taking these few minutes a day will give you the motivation to stay in the book and to finish it.

Well, good luck trying to implement these suggestions!  I'm going to start on them myself.

Just so you know, at the moment I am re-reading Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and still working my way through A Long Way Gone, so look for those upcoming reviews as well as a guest review by author Janna Qualman on Thursday.