Thursday, March 9, 2017

Discussion: My Reading Process

Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight host the 2017 Discussion Challenge.

If you’re like me, then you’re nosy about how other bookworms manage their book addictions. We have a lot of books in our lives and in our brains. Sometimes it can get overwhelming. I thought I’d show you the process I use to manage my reading life.

Step 1: The Hunt. There are billions of books in the world. How do I decide which ones to read? Blogs and BookTube have been good resources for me. I’ve been part of the online bookish community since 2013, and in that time, I’ve managed to find people who have similar reading tastes to me. I’ve discovered a lot of books through their blogs. Some of my favorite book blogs are over there, in the sidebar. --->

I also pay attention to literary awards. The awards I follow are the Newbery, Printz, Pulitzer, Man Booker, and National Book Award.

If I’m looking for books about specific topics, I ask for recommendations on my blog, Goodreads, or Twitter. Bookworms know everything, and they’re very nice about helping you find what you need.

Twitter knows everything.

Step 2: The Hit List. I don’t impulse-buy books. I’m a slow reader, and my reading interests shift quickly. I don’t want to buy a bunch of books and then lose interest in them before I can read them. My TBR (To Be Read) list helps with this problem. Whenever I find a book that sounds promising, I put it on my TBR list. Then I let it sit there. Every few months, I scroll through the list and delete any books that no longer interest me. This way, the list stays up-to-date with my interests. There are currently about 200 books on the list. Whenever I have money for books, I go through the list and buy the ones that I most want to read.

Step 3: Stalking My Prey. When you read as many books as I do, it’s not practical to pay full-price for them. You’ll go bankrupt. To support my book habit, I’ve become the ultimate bookish bargain hunter. My favorite places to find cheap books are BookOutlet, used bookstores, and used booksellers on Amazon. I can’t afford to be picky about my books. As long as they have all their pages and aren’t too germy-looking, I don’t care what condition they’re in. I’ve gotten hardcover books for as little as one cent on Amazon. I’ve also had luck with finding discounted new releases at Target, Walmart, and Kroger grocery stores.

The cover of this book may have been nibbled by baby dragons. Who knows? It was cheap.

Step 4: The Holding Cell. Once I have a book in my clammy little hands, it goes on my TBR shelf. I limit myself to one TBR shelf. All my unread books are in the same place. If the shelf is full, I don’t buy more books until there’s space for them. This has been a good way to control my book-buying impulse. Currently, there are 25 books on the shelf.

Artsy black & white photo of my TBR shelf.

Step 5: Selecting The Victim. I use a random number generator to choose which book I read. Since all my unread books are on the same shelf, I pick a number and count along the shelf. I’m not usually a mood reader. I can read any book at any time, so the number generator works for me.

The lucky winner.

Step 6: The Analysis. I review the majority of the books I read. Since I’m terrible at taking notes, I have to write a rough draft of my review within a few days of finishing the book. If I don’t, I forget my opinions. I also forget all the characters’ names. This is a problem. It’s also motivation to get my reviews done quickly.

Step 7: Convening With My Fellow Bookworms. After I finish my review, I go on Goodreads to see what other bookworms had to say about the book. I read a few 5-star reviews and a few 1-star reviews. I do this to make sure I didn’t miss anything amazing or problematic. All reviewers have blind spots. If I failed to see something, I want to know about it so I can become a better reviewer.

Step 8: The Purge. I love owning books, but I hate clutter. Clutter stresses me out. I need big, open spaces in order to be happy. So, I’m very picky about which books get to live with me forever. Almost all of the books I read end up going to new homes. I only keep a book if I can see myself rereading it in the future. The rejected books get taken to the used bookstore and traded for credits. I also donate books to schools. My mom used to be a teacher, so I’m aware that teachers spend a lot of their own money on classroom supplies. If you have children’s books, you can always stop at your local school or daycare and see if they want them.

That’s my reading process. How do you manage your reading life?


  1. I add the books I want to read but haven't bought to my Goodreads wishlist shelf so I can think about them before making purchase decisions. My tbr shelf is for books I own either in paperback or stored on my ereader. So when I say I have a tbr right now of 820 books, that's the ones I actually own and have yet to read, not the ones I just want! I regularly go through both lists and weed out what no longer interests me. It's amazing how often you can get rid of books based on the Goodreads reviews which tell you about tropes and stuff! I can't show you a photo of my tbr-they cover two ereaders and 6 bookshelves! I try new authors on ebooks if their books are free or cheap. The ones I really love I buy a paperback copy if available. Books I no longer want are offered to a trader I know online in exchange for amazon gift cards and the rest go to charity shops.

  2. I love how you have a TBR shelf and stop buying books once it's full! That is a really good idea! :) And I'm the same with clutter. I only keep books I absolutely loved or if it has a stunning cover!

  3. Oh man I wish I was as good as you about not keeping a ton of books. I used to but it has gotten out of hand. I just can't read as fast as I can buy!! I think I need to try random when picking my next book.

  4. Unlike a lot of bloggers I guess I don't have a huge TBR per se, maybe 20 books at the moment? Just basically a list of stuff I want to read in the next few months. I just don't have hundreds or anything probably because I don't use Goodreads enough. :) If I did I'd probably add a ton!

    And I am kind of a mood reader so that keeps my list down too. But I like your hit list, that's a great way to do it.

  5. I love seeing your process of choosing a book to read. A lot more extensive than what I do hehe I just look through my tbr (which is pretty big to be honest) and find something I am in the mood for and grab it. Most local libraries have it, if not I will go look at discounted book stores and if I really want the book I will grab it full price if I need to but I prefer trying to find it at a local used bookstore, plus I love the feel of a older book in my hands.

  6. I am ah-mazed by your organization and self-control. I have pretty good self-control, but I tend to get myself into trouble when too many publishers contact me at the same time about books that I must get my hands on. If I say yes to too many people at once, then I end up paying for it for months afterwards because I'm such a slow reader.

    I like that you have limited yourself to one TBR shelf. That's a great idea! Like you, I hate clutter. Love the books, but hate the clutter. I give away lots of books on my blog and sometimes I donate them to the library, sell them to the used bookstore, or give them to my kids' classrooms.

  7. I love that you use a random number generator to pick your next book! That's probably the most unique way I've ever seen. I've been really good about not spending a lot of money on books lately, so I really depend on my library. This affects when I can get books, and if the wait list is super long, I have to read them quickly and get them back.

  8. I get most of my books from the library. But a used bookstore recently closed, so I stocked up cheaply. I had a run with Book Depository, but the library's free, so yeah.

    Daytime is usually poetry, nighttime something else - usually mystery / crime.

    I'm always behind on my reviews. Even when I take notes.

  9. Wow you really do have a detailed system. I like it. My reading process is basically to buy so much that I have to try to wedge the books somewhere because there is no space for them. I pretty much end up reading ARCs that are about to be published.

  10. This is FABULOUS. But also... 25 books!? That is IT!? I am so impressed, I think you have officially blown my mind. I have... a lot. My process is... different. Here is how it goes: Looks at overwhelming shelves of books. Looks at review copy list. Groans because probably they should come first. If not, then gets REALLY overwhelmed because SO. MANY BOOKS. Crowdsources options to friends. Gets no general consensus. Picks up and puts down at least 2-3 dozen books. Settles on one, completely in doubt of the choice.

    Then afterward, if it is a review book, it sits around for a month or so until I finally get around to reviewing it. I do the thing you do on Goodreads too though! And then if it is NOT a review book, I probably never review it, or it goes into one of those "non-reviews" posts where I basically just say if I like it or not because I don't HAVE to review it ;)

  11. Wowza, I love this! I love learning about how other people manage the chaos of trying to decide what to read next. Besides that, I think in a way your method is great advice, particularly to aspiring bloggers. I especially like what you said about purging your TBR list on goodreads (which I hadn't done in, I don't know, years, so thanks for reminding me) and cleaning out your shelves every once in a while. I like the TBR shelf idea as well. I've started implementing something similar this year, in that I'm determined to read all the books I've owned physically or digitally for ages. I went through a book buying craze when I first got my kindle and I still haven't recovered. So I have all (okay, a lot) of those books on priority, and I'm only letting myself buy a new book when I read 2 books I already own. Thanks for sharing this! You've given me a lot of ideas for managing "reading stress" haha :)

  12. I wish I could say that I have any sort of process at all, but everything about my reading is much more haphazard than this. Choose a book? Oh, it's the shiny one that sticks out to me most at that moment. (Unless I have review books I need to read). Which books do I buy? The ones that I go to an author event for---or the ones that I happen to decide I NEED right then. Or the ones that are on sale on Book Outlet. (LOVE Book Outlet!) When do I review? Um, eventually? Sigh.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  13. My house would drive you crazy! I'm a total book hoarder. I've tried and tried to get rid of books. One time I donated over 1500 books to the public library. Problem is that I still had over 1000 left. Most of them are boxed up, but my family is always bugging me to get rid of more books. That doesn't even count in all my ebooks! I'm very impressed by your self-discipline. I know I'll probably die before I finish my TBR (especially since it keeps growing) but there are just too many books that I want to read.
    My process is like this: hoard a ton of books, pick one of mine to read in between review copies, take months to get it read, then take a few more months to get around to writing the review. Yep, I definitely need to take some lessons from you!

  14. This is so beautiful and awe-inspiring. Very unlike my approach, although I did just the other day use a number generator to help me decide what to read next. It did not used to be anywhere near this overwhelming, but between blogging (and thus finding out constantly about new books I want to read) and building a classroom library (and thus being able to justify actually buying books in the MG/YA range), my want-to-read list has exploded.

  15. Hahaha I loved this post so much! See, my books tend to get caught up in 'The Holding Cell' for not weeks, not months, but years on end before I finally get around to it. It's more like a life sentence to some of those books rather than a holding cell ;)

  16. This is so methodical - I love it!

    I am not at all like this though haha. My new process will be that I have to read at least 2 books on my TBR shelf before I'm allowed to buy a new one. I'm going to have a "library" in my office for all the books I've read and am keeping (which is all of them. I'm a hoarder!) and a different shelf in my living room for everything I still have outstanding.

    We'll see how it goes!

  17. I like that you use a random number generator to select your reading material. I have a very precise system and like you, I'll read any book at any time (except Christmas when I read Christmassy books).

    I alternate one book-book with one ebook and my book-books are organised on three bookcases. My main bookcase has books stacked two deep so I'll read one from the front shelf, one from the back on each of the three shelves, with an ebook between each one. Then I read one book from my children's book bookcase and one from my classics book bookcase, again with ebooks in between.

    I used to read ebooks by finding the ones which had been on my Kindle for the longest but I've now got a newer model that allows me to organise the ebooks into collections so I've sorted them into genre, so I'll treat each collection like a bookshelf and will cycle through them like I do with my real shelves.

    I love that I always have some idea of what I'll be reading next, but that sometimes it's a complete surprise (because I can't always see what's on the back row of the shelf until it's time to get to it).

  18. I like your easy steps! You have a very well defined system! As the child of two hoarders, I also hate clutter. Like now, when everything is in boxes all around and I have no desk. This year I am focusing heavily on NetGalley, and just going down the list from the most recent I was approved to read. I know it will make a small dent, and my actual bookcase is overflowing right now. It needs to sit in the corner and think about what it's done. lol