on finding a reading system that works for me.

This is something I’ve had mulling around in the back of my mind for a while but never talked about since I wasn’t sure anyone would actually get anything out of it. Then Jamie posted about feeling overwhelmed when facing her bookshelves in a way she never did prior to blogging:

As much as I’m grateful to have a never-ending queue of books to read next, it truly does overwhelm me sometimes to make that choice — to pick that ONE book out of the hundreds that I own or the 1,000 books I have marked as “to read” on my Goodreads list.

She talked about how, before blogging, she still had an entire library at her disposal, but her focus was much narrower since she wasn’t aware of THIS author or THAT book.

It was a recent discussion on twitter with Jen that finally sealed the deal: I want to share how I developed a ‘reading system’ that works for me.

I so totally and completely relate to Jamie’s feelings of being overwhelmed – my bookshelves are packed with books I want to read! I have a pile of review copies I need to get to! LET’S NOT FORGET ABOUT LIBRARY BOOKS, PEOPLE. Until now I was always in awe (and slightly jealous) of the bloggers who were consistently able to find the time to read their own books – and even reread, a sadly foreign concept to me these days (though I signed up for a reread challenge and got to enjoy Pioneer Girl all over again). Everything came to a halt for me this past November. Somehow – IDK the stars and planets aligned or something – November was a clean slate as far as review copies were concerned. I had just finished my September and October batch and didn’t have anything on deck until December. Whereas before I had felt like I would never get ahead, suddenly I was on top of things and at a complete loss! So I did the thing I had been wanting to do for years: dive back into older titles.

Remember my fierce love for Jessica Maria Tuccelli’s Glow? I read it in November. How about my new-found obsession with all things Gail Carriger? I took the plunge in November. You know how I’ve been praising Allison Pataki to high heaven since reading The Traitor’s Wife in September? I couldn’t wait any longer and read The Accidental Empress three months in advance (that NEVER happens – also, this review will be coming up in the next few weeks! It’s one to add to your lists!)

Being able to sit back, relax, and read an older title did wonders for my mental state. I even started to get a jump on December and January ARCs (my November lull is what made all of my January posts possible – it actually reached the point where I was having a hard time scheduling reviews because I couldn’t find any free days!) and hope to continue using that momentum from now on. I really think 2015 will be the year I finally find my groove in blogging and a large part of it lies in how I came up with a reading system. I don’t know about you, but I do not enjoy feeling the constant pressure of ARCs. Setting a deadline on my reading is not enjoyable and, honestly, it’s what turns this fun and awesome hobby into a chore.

So what did I do? It’s actually embarrassingly simple: for every review copy I read, I read one of my own books or a library book. Basically I alternate my books. Let’s take a look at some of the books I’ve read this year:

This weekend I finished two books: Jonas Karlsson’s The Room (review copy) and John Vaillant’s The Tiger (library). Even though there’s a TON of wiggle room here, I don’t always stick to this method religiously. After Unbecoming I read another ARC. If I’m really excited about a book I own, but had just finished a book from the library, who’s to say I can’t read it? Forcing myself to stick to a schedule, no matter how loose, just won’t work in the long run, so I’m pretty lenient.

Admittedly it’s only been a month or so since I started this system, but so far it’s been working out for me! I still get my ARCs read, but I’m also able to get some ‘fun’ reads in there as well. Okay, so I still get a little overwhelmed sometimes when choosing a new book to read, but this helps to narrow it down drastically. Sometimes I’ll even let my book jar choose for me!

Who knows – maybe you’re WAY more organized that I am and can stick to a super strict schedule where you read nothing but ARCs. THAT’S AWESOME! Maybe you don’t accept review copies at all. GO FOR IT! Personally, this alternation method is perfect for me (especially since I don’t make myself adhere to it 100% – if I want to read two ARCs in a row, I do. If I’m in the mood to binge on a series, you better believe my butt will be parked in my chair until I’m done!), but what’s perfect for me might not work for you.

Do you get overwhelmed at the thought of starting a new book? Do you have a system that you use??

9 thoughts on “on finding a reading system that works for me.

  1. I like your reading system! I like that you mix up the sources of your books.
    For me, I feel overwhelmed with ARCs so I’ve stopped reading ARCs. I read my own books exclusively. And generally, I read according to my mood. However, when I read a particular genre of book in a row, I kind of get sick of it and get a reading slump :( So I guess that’s where I need a reading system, alternating between genres of books. I’m still in the midst of figuring out something that works for me.

  2. I don’t really have a strict reading system and since I don’t do review copies, I don’t really have obligations in terms of reading. Sometimes I’m pretty organized (reading things in the order I check them out from the library) and other times I totally ignore what I planned to read and read what immediately catches my attention. What is kind of new to me since blogging is feeling at a loss between books when I don’t have something lined up to read next. I do feel like I always need to be reading something. I have been trying to use these “at a loss for what to read next” times to read books I already own, but haven’t been particularly successful at that.

  3. LOVE THIS. I agree, it gets SO overwhelming at times!!1 I can’t keep up with all the review books and then my shelf is INTIMIDATING. I love your simple system!!

  4. I don’t get review copies, but I have found myself going to the library for the new exciting books I hear about, and then I end up reading all library books and few of my own. I need to start limiting my library check outs, big time, and start working on my own books.

    I’m glad you’ve found a groove that works for you :) That’s a wonderful feeling.

  5. It’s always fascinating to learn about how other people decide what to read next! I think it’s pretty cool that there’s a unique way that will work for every individual. I like the simplicity of your process, plus the fact that it ensures you’ll read more or less an equal amount of books you owned/borrowed and books you get for review! Personally, I’ve decided to embrace reading whatever I’m really in the mood for reading this year. While I do have a pretty steady habit of reading at least one review book a week, for the most part, I’ve been reading whatever jumps out at me from my own books! It does help that I’ve got a smaller amount of review books to get through though. Thanks for sharing! Such fun, and I’m glad you’ve found your process :)

  6. Hello, dear! Love this post. I think I get more overwhelmed by piles of books and book mail sometimes but I too have been better this year. I think our systems are pretty similar. I’ve also made a rule with myself that I can only buy one book a month this year. Already, the pressure seems off because I’m borrowing from the library, getting review books done, and I’m reading books I own. (Actually reading a book I bought 2 years ago right now.) This is good for me. I also feel less happy about reaction to pre-pub reviews. I’ve noticed for us people are more responsive after pub date so it makes me feel a bit less pressure to get a review up early. (Even though we only did it about 30 days or so.) Is any of this making sense? I think we have to probably rethink these systems every now and then to keep reading fun. Anything gets boring after awhile. It’s all about being open to new routines. Thanks for sharing this. As always, I adore you. :)

  7. YAY I’m glad you posted this (woefully behind SORRY!!)! I have been doing something (pretty loose bc I’m a mood reader) similar in that for every 2 arcs I read I try to read a ME book (either library or owned) and then also a backlist arc that I MEANT to get to but didn’t. It’s been working out *pretty* well in that it at least helps narrow it a little for me! It’s a new system but I think it’s working for now! Loved hearing all about yours!!

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