Regimented Reading


By Nancy Wong (Personal collection of Nancy Wong) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

I came across a post today on Bookriot that I found a bit puzzling. It was titled An Experimental Year with Regimented ReadingThe writer admitted to struggling with a reading slump, which I have to admit to not understanding. A reading slump for me would be like an eating slump. Something would have to be seriously wrong with me! So perhaps I wasn’t the most sympathetic to the writer’s proposed remedy which was a reading regimen, written out month by month, color coded by “too long on the TBR” (green), series books (yellow), new releases (hot pink), and re-reads (blue) with asterisks (*) by the priority reads. The writer has planned this out until January. I would love to hear a report about how this worked.

A list like that might be the one thing to put me in a slump! I have enough else that is planned and scheduled, that scheduling my reading would drive me up a wall. That said, as I reflected on it, I have to admit that there is a certain method to my reading madness that guides my decisions of what I read next. Here is some of what governs my choices. I usually read on my Kindle during morning exercise on the treadmill. I alternate books I’ve purchased “just because” and e-galley’s I’ve requested for review. In print books, I usually have something “Christian-related” I’m reading and, because I review books from a number of publishers, many of these are new releases I’ve requested for review. I try to mix in older “backlist” or classic works, often something our Dead Theologians group is reading. Often my choices come down to what strikes my fancy when I’ve finished one book. Then I have a mix of history, science, current events and fiction that I choose from, usually alternating among these. A gift from my son usually jumps to the top of the pile.

Sometimes, I choose books that are related to something I might be speaking on or is something we are talking about in our organization. Then there are times where I’ve been reading or researching something, and it sparks an interest in something I want to read more deeply about. This happened recently researching posts about my hometown, and the sobering discovery of significant Klan activity in the 1920’s in a northern, industrial town. I wanted to find out more about that as a part of local history that tended to be glossed over.

In making the transition from simply reading to reviewing, I’m aware that some of the choices I make have to do with books I’ve agreed to review or are newly published. I probably get around to these more quickly than I once did, realizing that it’s probably a good idea to write about a book while people are interested in it. Sadly, it also reflects the reality that this is often a very short period. That’s a dynamic I wrestle with–seeing new releases on my TBR pile and hearing the clock ticking. Most of the time though, I’m pretty good at choosing things I enjoy reading. Perhaps it would be good to be more sparing in the choices so that the pile is smaller!

So, I guess I have a bit of my own regimen after all, just not written down. The closest to a plan are a few piles from which I choose my next books. The biggest dilemma is often having to choose among a number of good choices. I guess I’ve never wrestled with slumps because there are so many things I’m curious about, and so many genres and authors I enjoy.

So, how do you choose your books? Do you have any kind of plan? Do you ever get into a reading slump? What helps you get out of it? It would be fun to hear. We really are all different, and it seems to me that reading is one of those areas where there is no single “right” way to go about it. Perhaps that’s why we like it.


5 thoughts on “Regimented Reading

  1. I agree, Bob — the idea of a “reading slump” is foreign to me. So is the thought of making a formal, written schedule for what to read next. That would not work for me. Perhaps it’s a personality thing. In my daily life, I’m not a list-maker (though I do usually make a grocery list). As a fiction writer, I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, not a plotter. The book I found the most difficult to write — by far — was the one for which I was required to submit a synopsis before writing the story. I choose my next book to read in the same way: without a formal outline, but with a more or less logical plot (even if it’s only in my mind) that changes and adapts to circumstances as I proceed with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I often wondered how someone with a day job finds time to read as much as you, much less to write reviews; and of course you didn’t answer that. But your post made me realize that I could use a better method. I usually have 4–6 going at a time and 2–3 dozen owned books waiting to be read, several on a wait list at the library, and <275 on my Goodreads To-Read list, plus book club selections. I tend to reach for a more recent acquisition on a whim and neglect older ones. But if I'm seriously behind on my Goodreads Challenge (like now), I'll start to look at number of pages. I've never been in a reading slump except when overwhelmed by another task, such as moving (which is why I'm way behind on my GR Challenge this year). I love the luxury of choosing which book to start next. A slightly more structured approach would probably not change that. It'd be like ordering from a good cafe with a limited menu rather than overloading my plate from a lavish buffet.

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  3. I would have to be seriously ill or something to have a reading slump. My system, such as it is, consists of several sort of rank-ordered piles of books. When I finish a book, I go to one or two of the piles and pick one, usually influenced by whatever I’m interested in that week.

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