Getting on top of my summer reading

One of my goals this summer is to enjoy one of my lifelong favorite pastimes more, which is simply reading. I’ve taken to toting around my Kindle more (I read more on the actual Kindle Paperwhite than I do my phone) and have greatly enjoyed a string of terrific books recently, including Tyrant’s Throne and Red Sister. I’m trying to spend my last hour before sleep doing more reading than TV watching, as it’s the quietest time of the day.

But lately I’ve also realized that I’ve become haphazard in my accumulation of books and approach to reading. Thanks to Bookbub, I’ve been adding free and discounted novels several times a week (seriously, check it out, it’s great) and been tossing them into my “To Read” Kindle collection. Then there are books that I started but never finished. And an ever-growing wish list of titles on Amazon. And a bookshelf at work full of church books that I’ve bought or been gifted over the years that I’ve never touched.

And so I decided that something needed to get done. I had to organize.

Church books was the easier one: I’ve pulled out about a good dozen titles that I would really benefit from (such as Parenting by Tripp, Doctrines of Grace by Boice, and Desiring God by Piper), stacked them in a reading order, and started to go through them a chapter a day as part of my devotions. I’ve also created a document to take notes, since it helps me with overall comprehension (something I learned in seminary).

Yesterday, I got serious about my Kindle and Amazon collection, although that was a much larger task. I created a document that was divided into five sections:

  • Wish list books to buy (high, medium, and low priority)
  • Books I already own and need to read
  • Books I started but did not finish yet

This took me a long time, since I had to first comb through my entire Kindle collection dating all of the way back to 2011, looking up book ratings, bookmarking favorite authors (and seeing if I missed any books from them), and ranking them all on my to-read list. Then came my wish list, which really was an enormous, unwieldy monster. I probably deleted about 2/3rds of it, books that might have had passing interest but I know I’ll never have time to read, and then ranked the rest. Since I have some 70 books owned on my to read list, I’m not in a tearing hurry to buy more, but there are a few toward the top of my wish list that I’d like to get sooner rather than later.

Many of these books are part of long series, which is both a blessing and a curse. Just looking over the list, I think that if I did little else but read for the next year, I probably couldn’t get through it all. It’s an unclimbable mountain, getting higher every week with new releases, but at least I’m getting organized about it. Plus, if I have books on my wish list, I can easily sort to see if any of them are on sale. Unless it’s a “must have right now” novel, I don’t like spending more than about $3 on a book. Just my frugal nature, I guess.

One thing I did realize is that I’ve been starving for good space opera/scifi in my reading. I’ve been overdoing it on fantasy lately (I have a smattering of imaginative horror in the list too, but I don’t read as much of that as I once did) and could use some starships and aliens. So in organizing my lists, I bumped up some of those types of books in my queue.

With a lot of these books that I got for free, I’m not going to feel bad about giving each about one or two chapters to really hook me in before tossing them back on the pile. Life is too short to force myself to read books that aren’t that engrossing to me (or ones that are poorly written, which you bump into a lot, unfortunately).

It was very encouraging to go through all of these books for a different reason, which is that by reading the descriptions and reader reviews, I got excited about eventually diving into titles that I had totally forgotten about. There are some really interesting books out there that don’t easily fit in genre descriptions, and those I anticipate the most.


4 thoughts on “Getting on top of my summer reading

  1. Pasduil July 7, 2017 / 12:28 pm

    At this point whenever I see a tempting new thing I have to seriously ask myself whether I really need any more things to read / watch / listen to / play. The backlog in each of those areas is truly mind-boggling now.

  2. Bhagpuss July 7, 2017 / 1:13 pm

    You should try working in a bookshop. About two-thirds of everything I read is “proofs” that I get for free. That also means I read a huge range of unfamiliar writers, many of whom go on to become some of my favorites. It also means I’m often reading things that won’t be published for six months and by the time they appear I’ve completely forgotten I read them.

    Right now, though, I’m reading something much more obvious – Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch”, which is utterly brilliant. I think she may be my favorite living author – at least she is when I’m reading her.

    For space opera I’d recommend Ann Leckie’s “Ancillary” trilogy – . “Ancillary Justice”, “Ancillary Sword” and “Ancillary Mercy”. Never read anything quite like it and I read a lot of space opera. Thoroughly deserves the huge amount of awards it won.

    Even better, because there is no better SF writer than M. John Harrison, is the Kefahuchi Tract trilogy, “Light”, “Nova Swing” and “Empty Space”.

    Or you could do a lot worse than try “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” and the sequel of sorts “A Closed and Common Orbit” by Becky Chambers.

    Enough! This is getting to be too much like my day job!

  3. Syp July 7, 2017 / 3:12 pm

    Long Way is actually next up on my reading list! Thanks for the other suggestions though!

  4. Pasduil July 7, 2017 / 4:56 pm

    Donna Tartt is only alive when you’re reading her? That sounds like a good basis for a story.

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