I’ve never been much of a planner when it comes to my reading life. As an academic, my reading has often been planned for me, in courses and lists and shoulds and ought-tos, to such a degree that I haven’t wanted to guide even myself by more than whim. I’ve shied away from book clubs — no one can tell me what to read! I don’t even like those “Best Novels of the Twentieth Century” or “One Hundred Books Everyone Should Read” lists — they always seem oddly constructed and not what I would choose, myself. I’ve never joined a challenge or a dare in the book blog world. Why discipline something that’s supposed to be fun?
So it was a surprise this summer when I started to feel a need to carve out a plan for my reading. I was taking on some big classics, as well as some 600-700-page books by Stephen King for the readalong Teresa and I are doing, and I didn’t want them to crowd out everything else. I have also been wanting to read mostly off the “bottom” of my TBR list — the books that have been there the longest. So I wrote out a plan for the books I wanted to read in June, July and August, including a few new releases I was excited about, and with a couple of tweaks here and there, I stuck to it.
The thing is, it was oddly rewarding. I got to read a whole raft of books I’ve had on my list for many years, and I got through my projects as well. I had the best reading summer I’ve had in ages, and there was still room for whimsy. It didn’t feel regimented or pressured — it felt more like Christmas morning. Just because there’s a prescribed time to open gifts doesn’t mean the gifts aren’t wonderful!
So I’m thinking of doing another reading plan for this fall. Now that the semester has begun again, things are busier, so I’m putting fewer books on the list for each month, trying to make it manageable. I’m including at least one nonfiction book a month, and since for some reason my reading this year has been really disproportionately male (unusual for me — I’m usually naturally about fifty-fifty), I’m reading some more of the women authors I’ve been waiting to get to for years. And there’s plenty of room for serendipitous encounters with books I can’t resist! I have it planned through November and the end of the Dark Tower readalong, and honestly, I can’t wait.
Do you plan your reading, or do you pick up books according to whim, chance, and mood? Are you a rebel, like me, or do you enjoy having lists to read from? Is your reading beautifully orderly or gloriously disorderly?