How I Find What to Read
o In the early stages I relied mainly on friends, family, pulling directly from shelves (VERY early), and homeschooling.
o Now, my main sources for fiction are other bloggers.
o My nonfiction is more of a mix; friends, websites (not usually bloggers), and my research.
o I’m not really an off-the-shelf reader because 1.) I almost always order my library books and 2.) I have trust issues. I don’t even always digitally pull off the shelf (although I do sometimes for nonfiction and reference); I always like to hop over to Amazon for a bit more information. I do think I need to try to pull off the shelves a bit more because I could be missing out on interesting books.
Managing My TBR List
o TBR lists can be huge, so I prefer mine to be digital. I want to collect every book that someone recommends, so that I don’t forget about it plus I want to follow my own inclinations.
o I’m trying to only use the library site as much as possible; I sorted my library list into categories, and I’m trying to discipline myself to hop right over there when a blogger mentions a book instead of bookmarking and prolonging the process.
o I still need to streamline my interlibrary loan list for those books that aren’t available at my library; I think this needs to be an Excel file.
o I have a re-read list in my reading journal because this tends to be small and re-reads are often impulsive.
Obtaining the Books
o I almost NEVER buy books unread. I’ve purged many books of my own that I have read because of the quality of the physical book. Books are expensive and space consuming, and I’m really picky, so it is essential that I borrow.
o I live in a different county from my preferred library, so I like to order lots of books, so that I have a ton of options to last me for a few months. I’m still trying to perfect my system.
o For books that I plan to read in their entirety, I aim for these four categories: dense fiction, light fiction, scholarly nonfiction, popular nonfiction. I’ve also been gathering a random assortment of books to peruse for reference (cookbooks, historical fiction, craft books, etc.).
o We have the option to suggest a purchase which I like to use.
o We have an interlibrary loan system which allows 3 requests per months. I think it is hit and miss, but I need to utilize it better.
How I Read
o I have started to put sticky notes with chapters/sections broken down onto dense books, so that I can break down the reading a bit at a time and feel accomplished (sometimes I am able to get into the rhythm/discipline of reading after doing a few chapters or sections).
o I am a slow reader but for me at least, I think this helps my comprehension because when I’ve sped through things, I’ve noticed that I don’t absorb the information well.
o I dislike e-books; I have a Kindle app on my laptop with multiple books. I’d like to read some of them, but I don’t find this method of reading easy or comfortable, and I don’t feel that I absorb the content as well which is the most important part!
o I usually read in bed, probably should get some better habits going.
o I’m hit and miss on this; I’m trying to discipline myself. I have done everything from written on scrap paper to typed in a document to written in a notebook.
o I recently page-numbered and added a “Contents” section to my reading notebook; I want to make that an early stop for notes; I can draw from these notes for posts and expanded thoughts.
o I have copied some work that I had on scrap paper into my reading journal, but sometimes, I think I may need to use scraps when I want to write an organized piece on a larger scale.
o I’ve also tried to start writing brief thoughts on books about which I don’t have much interest in analyzing deeply, so I can type up my monthly summaries quicker. I need to work on the content of these better, so that I can give other people more information.
o I have a separate quote book for quotes which I’ve been trying to use more; I think a digital source might be better, so I can find favorites again quickly.
I’m came across this post on ways to read more in college, and it got me thinking about what I do or need to do in order to read. I want to go through the aforementioned list with my thoughts, and then write another post on a few more actions I take that help me personally.
~Read one book at a time
I think that this is a personal thing. I can find it difficult to be motivated to read one book at a time when that one book is dense. Some books are hard to slog through but are worth it. And some are a bit more like candy. I could definitely be more disciplined in my reading, but I still think that having a few books in different categories (e.g. dense fiction, light fiction, scholarly nonfiction, popular nonfiction) is a helpful way to read widely and deeply.
~Read what makes you happy
I think this only applies to the light fiction category. I “need” this category to pull me away from the Internet, to help me stick to reading, to de-stress, etc. I oftentimes have a hard time finding enough of these books though, and so I turn to my small favorite reads; I LOVED how Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas called this concept having a “literary medicine cabinet.”
~Take your book with you everywhere
This is a great idea, but one I still need to implement more consistently. I also like to bring my knitting everywhere, so I can be a bit of a crazy bag lady.
~Use reading as an incentive
I think this is more personal too. Again, this is where the multiple books come in for me. I kind of use the light books as a help to reading the heavy ones. I sometimes read, knit, repeat. But I think that I prefer reading my fun books straight and this would make my work slide (if you haven’t noticed discipline is a problem for moi).
~Don’t force yourself to read
I GREATLY disagree with this for everyone; I think everyone should be reading hard books and most people don’t find those easy. Additionally, I don’t expect to desire to read period, I have to exert discipline. I think that is for these reasons: psychological reading issues, habitual lack of disciple (e.g. laziness), and computer addiction (e.g. lack of self-control).
I wanted to write out some of my thought process for choosing or rejecting fiction (it IS important to be able to know when you are wasting your time and brain; this blogger mentions her 40 page rule, I prefer a different way) and some questions to help me analyze the books (my review ability could use some improvement). Now, I’m more intuitive than clearly analytical in my thoughts, so I don’t think in this organized way, but I wanted to formulate a neat set of questions drawn from my thoughts on how to choose good fiction. I’m trying to utilize my reading notebook more effectively, so I wrote the questions and prompts in there.
- Is the quality of the prose high?
- Is the quality of the story high? Is it interesting?
- Is the tone forced? Is the action manufactured? Is the drama manufactured? Does the emotion feel genuine? Try to pin point the “why” of your answers.
- Is the immorality, language, violence, etc. gratuitous or cheaply shocking? What is the proportion of bad to good? What is the tone toward these issues? Is it sympathetic? Indifferent/amoral/blasé? Hostile? Are the issues implied/subtly handled or graphic and explicit? Are they excessive/essential to the story? Can you cut/cover them and have a good story?
- Describe the plot, the situations, the characters, the moments. What do you like? What is the feeling and tone of the story? How do you know this?
Now for some bookish links.
Some literary holidays. I’ve filled my calendar with many of these, and I will probably have some posts on this.
A conversation between two of my favorite authors, Jeanne Birdsall and N.D. Wilson. Some really great words here, on the importance of beautiful prose (YES, YES, YES! The lack of this is a/the significant reason I despise much of modern grown-up novels), on depth in characterization, on deep treatment of themes, on magic and Americana (Natalie Lloyd does this too; I LOVE this). This is just an awesome discussion, can they have an online bookclub?!!!!!! Or podcast (I’m not into podcasts, but this would be one that I would WANT).
Improve your vocabulary. I was putting a list like this into an Excel file and realized I might have the opposite issue for some of these words; I use the big words when I’m frustrated and so they are exaggerated and not accurate. I added these words to the other list I found, some of them repeated or had different suggestions, and I’m not sure I agree with all of the choices.
These quotes can apply to reading as well (sometimes the mainstream “reader” community seriously annoys me and reading merely as a hobby and only reading fiction is one pet peeve).
- I had an Excel packing list with items in red that I needed. I shared some toiletries. I wrote some last minute checklists in addition to my packing list to ensure I packed everything. I am trying to make notes for better packing for my future trips!
- This is the pink version of my recipe binder, and I have made it my homemaking binder.
The content is varied; the first photo is an example of some notes from our church’s Titus 2 studies while the second photo contains information linked on Pinterest. I will probably want several different binders. One for planning/cleaning/ meal lists, one for kids/medical, one for travel, etc.
But right now I am trying to compile useful information into one homemaking binder. Information about topics like food storage, future family information, moving ideas. I deleted Pins and boards and emails to myself of links after I put the information in this binder. I want to condense and sort through information, so that when I have my own home and family, I will have a point of reference. Obviously, anything medical related will need to be updated, but I think it is good to start with some kind of knowledge, some habits of preparation.
I have not worked on it much recently, and I need to work on it in a more serious manner and use more professional books and websites, but I need more pretty paper and pens first! And practice of elegant penmanship.
- . . . to fill out the recipe for my own useI do not know if I mentioned this before, but last year I finally got seriously started on copying favorite recipes for my future family. You can see some scrap paper with a list of recipes that need copying. I am also trying to copy new recipes soon after trying them.Years ago my grandmother gave me this recipe binder (I also have a few Susan Branch cookbooks). I now prefer a binder like this to loose cards in a box. I need get some more recipe page protectors. I would also like a recipe stand. We used to have a cast iron one; I would like something sturdy (for normal people anyway) and yet pretty like that.