Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Reading Resolution

DEBORAH CROMBIE: My daughter told me the other day that she had resolved to read one hundred books in 2014. Now, there's nothing momentous about the number--she's a big reader, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if she read more than a hundred books this past year.  But her determination to read at least a certain number of books, and to keep count, made me realize what a disorganized reader I am.

I have attempted, on numerous occasions, to keep track of WHAT I read. I have a book journal, with, well, maybe three pages filled out.  I've put books in my personal journal, occasionally. (And don't ask how long it's been since I made an entry in that!)  I've made notes on what I'm reading now and again in my calendar.

But I've never resolved to read a certain number of books, or any particular books for that matter.  The truth is that I read much less now than I did before I was a published author, strictly because of time limitations.  (Reading fiction during a work day, unless I can call it "research", is a big no-no. Otherwise, I'd never get any writing done.) I also read a lot of books that are connected with work--friends' books, books sent to me by publishers, etc.--and these pop up randomly. Or I read ABOUT a book, and that goes next on my to-read list, in place of whatever I might have had in mind. (Notice Sujata Massey's THE SLEEPING DICTIONARY in my stack...)

I quite like the idea of organized reading, however, so if I can't set a number-of-books goal, or a specific list-of-books goal, I thought I'd at least try to make note of what I do read.

(So far this year, Kim Fay's THE MAP OF LOST MEMORIES, which I loved. Then, an advance copy of a debut novel called MURDER AT THE BRIGHTWELL, by Ashley Weaver, a great 1930s romp. And now, something I have actually had on my to-read list since it came out in 2010, BLACKOUT, by Connie Willis. Haven't finished that one yet, but loving it.)

So, REDS, do you set goals and/or make reading resolutions, or do you just read whatever lands on your desk or tickles your fancy?

RHYS BOWEN: I could never set myself a reading goal--at least not until I retire in the remote future to a desert island with nothing but a crate of champagne and books. I find I can't read much fiction when I'm writing and I write two books a year which doesn't leave much time. I read like crazy on vacation (love all of Connie Willis's books, Debs). I have to read a certain number of ARCs to give quotes for new authors. Thus year I've been chairperson of a competition so lots of books I would not otherwise have read. But I do keep a list of recommendations, such as THE MAP OF LOST MEMORIES. And I always have to read certain authors like the other Reds when their books come out.

HALLIE EPHRON: For pleasure, I'm a completely random reader. Often I read what my daughters recommend - so right now that's THE SHINING GIRLS (a time traveling serial killer). 

But I also have a regular book review column I write for the Boston Globe - 3 books every other month. And about those I am rigidly systematic. I have to get a running start, because I can often start 3 or 4 books before I find one that I really like, and because I get to review so few, I prefer to review (and read!) books that I like.

LUCY BURDETTE: I would never make a reading resolution. For me, that would be like making a resolution to eat! Good lord, or like reminding myself to breathe:). I read every night as a treat--some mysteries including all the Reds, but lots of women's fiction to clear my mysterious palate, and I also love memoirs. I've just finished a very sweet book called THE PATRON SAINT OF LOST DOGS, by Nick Trout, and now reading HOME OF THE BRAISED by Julie Hyzy. Then next I'll choose from DAY OF HONEY (a memoir of "food, love and war"), ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, or Wally Lamb's WE ARE WATER.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Planning ? Planning? No, not at all. Never. And in terms of making a goal? My goal is to stay awake for more than three pages. (I often read in bed.) And you know, that's a good barometer--when I find a book that keeps me awake, I know I have a keeper. How do I choose? Oh, gosh, yeah, random.

The last one that did that was David Ellis's THE LAST ALIBI. And Gregg Hurwitz's ..oh, what was it called? YOU'RE NEXT. I'm a reading Michael Connolly's new one now, love it,, and next is Elisabeth Elo's NORTH OF BOSTON. I have been hearing good things! And I want to read Marcus Sakey's BRLLIANCE and the new Lisa Gardner. I'm getting a lot of ARCs these days..and am mesmerized by M.E. Cooley's ICE SHEAR--watch for it! And Lynn Raimondo's DANTE's POISON.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Like Hallie, I'm a completely random reader. And, I suspect, like the other Jungle Reds, I have a huge pile of galleys from people who want blurbs as well as fellow authors' galleys to read. This, on top of all the non-fiction for my own work, makes the to-read pile pretty intimidating.

However, I do love to read in bed last thing at night, and I consider that my time. Right now I'm reading Donna Tartt's THE GOLDFINCH, as well as Ean McEwan's SWEET TOOTH, and T.H. White's THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING. I just finished rereading BRIDESHEAD REVISITED because I was apartment-sitting and plant watering for our neighbors down the hall over the holidays, picked it up just to reread the first chapter — and then of course I had to finish it!

My idea of the Best Vacation Ever is a beach/reading vacation. A whole week with nothing to do but lie in a chaise lounge by the pool and read, read, read.....

As far as keeping track, I like to keep an Amazon wish list--not that I buy everything there, but they make it very easy to add something to a list. Ditto with Goodreads--I have a healthy "to be read" shelf on that site.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Remember, Rhys, you'll also need a cabana boy on that desert island, to keep the champagne on ice and dust the bookshelves.

Like everyone else, I have a lot of "required" reading that gets in the way of just plopping down and letting myself dive into anything I want. So a reading goal - x number of books or a survey of this or that author - wouldn't work for me. What I DO want to try in 2014 is keeping a book journal. I get so frustrated when someone asks me, "what are you reading?" or we do one of our book recommendation posts here on JRW, because half the time, I can't recall the name or author of the great book I devoured just last month!

Does anyone have any suggestions for a really good-looking book journal to make it easier for me?

DEBS: Okay, I'm signing up for Rhys's desert island read-a-thon!  And my idea of a dream vacation is the same as Susan's--books-hammock-beach.  Sigh.  And a little secret?  When I go to London on my own and I don't have to do my normal daily home routine, I READ. A LOT.

Susan, I'm jealous you've reread BRIDESHEAD and are re-reading THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING, which is one of my favorite books ever. I think it formed a large chunk of my moral/world view.

Julia, the photo of the journal is the inside front page of one I got as a gift from a great library.  I love it because it gives you a place for the title, author, date, and comments.  I'm sure you can find a similar one somewhere. Now, if I will just use mine...

(The photos, by the way, are of my to-read pile on the upstairs bedside table, the downstairs bedside
table, and most overwhelming of all, the to-read shelves in my office, two thirds pared down after last year's great book purge.  And the lovely photos are by my friend Steve Ullathorne.)

I think we have a pretty good consensus that we are all random readers.  So, JRW READERS, what about you?  Organized readers? Resolutions?  Good suggestions for journals and keeping track?

Do tell!



  1. I most definitely am not an organized reader . . . and I’m not good at journal-keeping [I have one I really like --- Reading Journal for book lovers from Crown Publishing --- but I generally forget to write in it] . . . .
    No resolutions: Rhys’s desert island with nothing but champagne and books sounds so marvelous . . . I’m just going to keep reading and hope that I can stay ahead of the ever-toppling to-be-read pile . . . .

  2. Oh, how I love this topic, and oh, how I love to make book lists. I've kept record of my reading for probably the last ten years. I first started out with a reading journal, a small one entitled "what i read," with space for date, title, author, and thoughts (small space for thoughts). I'm hoping that one of my two children, probably my son, will hang on to these journals after old mom has gone to that happy reading room in the sky. Since 2011, I have been participating in the Goodreads reading challenge and kept track of the books I read there, also doing book reviews on this site for the books read. My Goodreads link for the 2013 challenge is
    The link to my Goodreads page where you can see the other years' challenges is
    I set my goal at 75 each year, but there have been two years, including last year, that I reached 100. I like the 75 number because I pretty much know I will read that many.

    Now, as to reading lists of what I'm going to read. Oh boy, do I have fun making these out each year. I make out a list of the books that I am most wanting to get to and ones that I've sadly not gotten to the last year (or,yikes, sometimes years). I can't possibly to get to all of the books, but I add as many as I like. On this list I keep a list of new publications coming out that I want to read with the dates of their publication (you know you're a reading list addict when your list has lists within it, lol). One of the best, most fun parts is that I get to highlight the book in lime green after I've finished it. Woohoo! Do I know how to have fun, or what? Now, do I deviate from my list? Of course, I do. I'm always adding to it or moving something up the list. Really, the order doesn't indicate too much what is next. I just want my choices that I'm thus far interested in to be there in front of me. It's kind of like a running list of books I'm interested in reading. I often have my list minimized at the bottom of my computer screen for easy access.

    Deb, I cannot tell you how happy I am that you are reading Connie Willis' Blackout. Of course, you'll need to read its second part, All Clear, too. And, if you tell me you've already read Willis' previous historian time travelers books, I will literally dance for joy. Those two titles are Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog (a riot). Rhys, you have definitely put an ear-to-ear grin on my face with your recommendation of Connie Willis. I need to read some of her other books sometime, besides the time traveling historians. I recently purchased her new short story compilation.

  3. I finally did it. I tried to post something that was too long to be accepted. So, the end of my previous post was going to be the list of new books that I have thus far listed on my 2014 Reading List (the entire list so far is 7 pages, so I thought I'd share just this portion).

    New Books 2014
    The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley (Jan. 14th, 2014)
    The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Jan. 14th, 2014)
    Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (Jan. 14th, 2014)
    The Vanishing by Wendy Webby (Jan. 21st, 2014)
    Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen (Jan. 28th, 2014)
    The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley (Feb. 4th, 2014)
    Murder with Ganache by Lucy Burdette (Feb. 4, 2014)
    Death of a Policeman by M.C. Beaton (Feb. 25th, 2014)
    City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn (Feb. 25th, 2014)
    City of Darkness and Light by Rhys Bowen (March 4, 2014)
    The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths (March 11th, 2014)
    To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie (March 25th, 2014)
    Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James (April 1, 2014)
    Breathing Room: Declutter Your Heart, Declutter Your Home by Melva Green and Lauren Rosenfeld (April 1, 2014)
    The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose (April 8, 2014)
    The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford (April 15, 2014)
    Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well by Nancy Atherton (April 17, 204)
    From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins (April 22, 2014)
    The Pink Suit: A Novel by Nicole Kelby (April 29th, 2014)
    A Flame in the Wind of Death by Jen Danna (May 2014)
    A Dark and Twisted Tide by S.J. Bolton (now published as Sharon Bolton) (June 3, 2014)
    Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon (June 10, 2014)
    A Sense of Entitlement by Anna Loan-Wilsey (June 24, 2014)
    Conversion by Katherine Howe (July 1, 2014)
    The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent by S’usan Elia MacNeal (Jul 1, 2014)
    Murder in Retribution by Anne Cleeland (July 29, 2014)
    Confessions by Kanae Minato (Aug. 19, 2014)

  4. The best reading time I've had was in Ms. Carnella's sixth-grade class. There was a lack of space in our school, so they converted the library into a classroom. Whenever we had a free moment there were books to read. They covered all the walls except for the spot with the big clock and the portrait of George Washington. The teacher would write our names down when we wanted to take a book home. We thought we were the luckiest kids in school and came to resent the days when other teachers brought students to find books. We were so territorial! Still I'm sure I read more books that year than any other, and I was only there for half the year.

  5. I spend time on Goodreads every day, so that's where I list the books I want to read. But hustling my own novels the past eight months has me blurbing and reviewing again: My reading time has shrunk. I need a week at the beach myself.

    I cannot plan my reading like Kathy. Heck, I can't plan anything that well. I've been a One-Day-at-a-Time guy for many years.

  6. I have always been an organized reader. Even before I started the blog, I was keeping journals of what I was reading and when.

    And there are about a thousand lists around with books that I hear about that I want to read. Every so often, I'll gather them up (from home, the office, the car, etc) and combine them into one list. Often a book will have ended up on more than one list, so I always make a special point to try to read that one (obviously, something about it spoke to me on more than one occasion).

    Because of the blog, my "free" reading is limited now, so I usually will go for something that is not the mystery/thriller genre which the blog focuses on. That said, I have gotten very choosy about the books that I agree to review for the blog. There is ao much that I want to read, but I do still make it a point to try out galleys from new authors.

    NetGalley and Edelweiss are a godsend for us bloggers. There would be no other way to stay current.

  7. I don't make reading resolutions. Like Roberta/Lucy, I can't imagine NOT reading!

    At the library, I browse the new books in alphabetical order by author name. If I've heard about a book I want to read, I have the title written down on a scrap of paper so I can look for it. (I sometimes pull my gloves out of my pockets and have scraps of papers with author names or book titles fall to the floor!)I'm ALWAYS looking for new books by REDS. I read book reviews, particularly the on-line Story Circle Book Reviews, which is where I learned about many of the REDS authors.

    A few years ago I went through a period of reading mostly memoirs for my NON-mystery reading. (You can be sure I'm always reading at least one mystery, no matter what else I'm reading!)

    Things have gotten to the point where I really need to keep a list of what I've read, along with a list of books I want to read (or re-read), as I sometimes forget book titles. I'll never forget being excited because I'd read all of Agatha Christie's books - and then started finding titles I'd never heard of. A few pages into the books I discovered that I had already read them, but they had recently been re-released under their original titles.

    A book journal is an excellent idea!

  8. Right now I'm reading THE ROSIE PROJECT, and realizing how relatively disorganized I am, about reading and so many other things.

    But reading especially, since I read like other people eat peanuts: as soon as I'm finished with one I pick up another one. Between the stacks of real books here, and the hundreds of unread titles on my Nook (and on my phone, in the Kindle app), I will never, ever run out. And I just added three more yesterday.

    As for keeping track, fuggedaboudit. My mother started keeping lists, especially of her favorite mystery series, but I haven't, so I end up with duplicate books all the time. I envy those of you who can manage to keep track.

    Deb, what a lovely journal. I have several, equally lovely, all with just a few pages used. Sigh. Guess I'm in the same club with Joan!

  9. I've always been a list maker, so I do write down author and title in my day planner when I finish a book (the old fashioned spiral bound kind of planner, not online) and I keep a "want list" of upcoming pub dates of must-have titles so I remember to download the iBooks when they come out. But I really should do more because half the time I can't remember anything about books I read only a few months ago, even books I liked a lot. On the bright side, if I wait a year or two, I can enjoy them all over again! This past year I started putting a "what I'm reading" section on the " news" pages of my websites, but I don't update it very often.

  10. I'm like Jack - and I never keep a list of what I've read. And I don't have most of the books as I give many of them to the 92 Y !!! But I always have about 4 or 5 going at a time, and I feel total pity for those folks who don't or can't read!! Thelma in Manhattan

  11. After buying a book that I already had (and had probably read) for the umpteenth time, I thought I really should keep a list of my books, read and waiting. But then I thought: do I sort them by author? Perhaps a phone directory so it's alphabetized? And the next thing I knew, I'd bought more books, read a bunch, and couldn't be bothered.!
    Best laid plans?

  12. Congratulations to Hallie on the Edgar nomination for There Was An Old Woman. Well deserved!

  13. Oh, who can resist a topic like this?

    First, Deb, as Kathy said, reading those other Connie Willis time-travel books will enhance the experience. I’ll add Fire Watch, the long short story that started it all. It’s available online at . Furthermore, not only will you need to read All Clear next, but I strongly recommend that you have it right there beside you for when you finish reading Blackout, because you won’t want to wait a moment to keep on reading.

    Julia asked about a decent book journal to use. Based on my records, any attractive hardbacked blank-paged notebook. Spiral bound is good. I’d avoid anything purporting to be a book journal, filled with page headers and sections like “Books I love” “Books I must read read again” “Books that Changed my life”, blah blah blah. (Or you could use it, but cross out the headings.)

    Four years ago I began keeping a list of my books read. My own approach is, from the front: Book title, Author, Date Pubbed. Then my own thoughts about it, a paragraph or two (or in the case of, say The Mitfords, letters between six sisters, a few pages). I include books I started and didn’t finish, and WHY, so I won’t be tempted again.

    Then, from the back, I just make a list of the titles only, for quick reference.

    If you think that sounds a tad anal (and I admit it does) I’ll add that a few weeks ago I put all the titles for the past 4 years into a spreadsheet, including genre. I was surprised at the patterns that emerged, and the consistency of my reading for the past 4 years.

    I originally began doing this because, damn it, I could barely recall the next week what I’d spent my time reading lately. I’m very happy to have this list, and wish I had it for many years back.

    If all that sounds too onerous, a quick and easy method is to pick up a cheap or freebie little datebook and just jot down the title of the books you start or finish on the applicable date.

  14. Oh, who can resist a topic like this?

    First, Deb, as Kathy said, reading those other Connie Willis time-travel books will enhance the experience. I’ll add Fire Watch, the long short story that started it all. It’s available online at . Furthermore, not only will you need to read All Clear next, but I strongly recommend that you have it right there beside you for when you finish reading Blackout, because you won’t want to wait a moment to keep on reading.

    Julia asked about a decent book journal to use. Based on my records, any attractive hardbacked blank-paged notebook. Spiral bound is good. I’d avoid anything purporting to be a book journal, filled with page headers and sections like “Books I love” “Books I must read read again” “Books that Changed my life”, blah blah blah. (Or you could use it, but cross out the headings.)

    Four years ago I began keeping a list of my books read. My own approach is, from the front: Book title, Author, Date Pubbed. Then my own thoughts about it, a paragraph or two (or in the case of, say The Mitfords, letters between six sisters, a few pages). I include books I started and didn’t finish, and WHY, so I won’t be tempted again.

    Then, from the back, I just make a list of the titles only, for quick reference.

    If you think that sounds a tad anal (and I admit it does) I’ll add that a few weeks ago I put all the titles for the past 4 years into a spreadsheet, including genre. I was surprised at the patterns that emerged, and the consistency of my reading for the past 4 years.

    I originally began doing this because, damn it, I could barely recall the next week what I’d spent my time reading lately. I’m very happy to have this list, and wish I had it for many years back.

    If all that sounds too onerous, a quick and easy method is to pick up a cheap or freebie little datebook and just jot down the title of the books you start or finish on the applicable date.

  15. Me again.

    I almost never make a reading plan, other than to add yet another book to my towering TBR piles, and to the lengthy Hold list at the library. The only semi-formal reading plan I came up with, last year, was to read/reread all of Alice Munro’s short stories, more or less in order of writing. No time frame.

    And then she won the Nobel Prize.

  16. Forgot to mention my love of Connie Willis as well. I count _Passage_ as my favorite of her books, mainly because I had no idea what I was reading when I started and it just blew me away. I can't say more without ruining it, but I suspect many of the JRW readers would love this book.

  17. No plan except to pick the book of my huge TBR pile (which now includes books waiting in the Kindle queue) that I most want to read. And they're almost always mysteries.

    A few years ago when I was laid up for six weeks after back surgery, I did blog about every book I read. Which was about one per day - what a treat to have all that time to read.

    Yay for HALLIE!

  18. I love this topic, and I love the enthusiastic response to this topic!!

    First of all, thank you so much Deb for the shout-out for THE MAP OF LOST MEMORIES. We have a mutual admiration society. I started your series and am now hooked ... and that kind of describes my reading habits.

    I definitely set goals when it comes to my research - I have to or I'd never get it done. But with fiction, I'll have my lists of what I want to read set up, and then I will fall in love with an author completely by surprise and I'm off down a side path.

    Regarding a reading journal, Julia - many years ago my mom gave me a beautiful hand-bound Italian journal. In this I keep a list by year of everything I read as I go along - in fountain pen :) This makes it part of my ritual of reading. It's just a list of titles and authors. Then, if there are quotes that strike me, I include those too (on separates pages). And in the back of the journal I paste my GoodReads reviews, since that is a nice way to keep track of how I felt about a book.

    Susan, I LOVED Sweet Tooth!!

    More thanks to everyone who mentioned books they've read and loved. I'm adding so many new ones to my list, along with the nominees that just came out today for the Edgars!!

  19. Hurray for Hallie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And it's SUCH a good book! (Anyone who hasn't read it MUST put it on their to-read lists asap!)

    Edith, I wouldn't wish back surgery on anyone, but six weeks to read sounds like heaven. I'd just prefer to do it at the beach. Or on Rhys's island, complete with cabana boy to bring me the champagne. (Dream big, I say!)

    Thanks, all of you, for the Connie Willis info. This is the first book I've read--how did I miss these?-- so should I read All Clear next, or go back to the earlier books?

  20. PS ... HUGE congrats to Hallie for her Edgar nomination. It's much-deserved!!

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  22. I find reviewing really helps me keep track of what I read and when I read it.

    As to goals? I hate for reading to become a chore. It's a hobby and something I do for fun. I did set a goal for 70 books this year, but I should hit that easily. I've also joined some of the reading challenges out there, but my goals for them are also in line with my normal reading habits.

    I want to be able to read as the books strike my fancy. I usually have several books calling my name at any one time, so I like grabbing which ever one speaks loudest and reading it. And if I get busy for a few days, I don't want to stress about not meeting some goal or other.

  23. Yes, I use Word to keep a list of the books I've read (I also grade them), a list of unread books that I own (so I don't buy them again), a list tallying the number of books read as a part of a series, and a list of older books that my library no longer has that I'm slowly getting through inter-library loans.

    I'd like to read at least 100 books this year - I did reach that for 2013. After many years of not reading, I started again about 5 years ago and I'm still playing catch-up.

  24. Thanks, everyone!! Needless to say I'm having a good day.

    Loving all these posts and my TBR list is getting longer and longer.

    I think the list thing is one reason people love Goodreads. I sincerely hope that Amazon doesn't ruin it.

  25. Greg, fascinated by your "many years of not reading" comment. Would love to know why you didn't read, and why you started again.

    Kim, I love your journal idea. Julia, this might be a case where you could justify one of Mychal Mitchell's hand-bound Iona Journals--remember when we had her on JRW?

  26. Hallie! Yay!!!! Congratulations! It's a very, very well deserved nomination, and I am SO proud of you!

    Okay books and lists, what could be more fun?

    I used to try to keep a journal list of the books I read, but my "journals" keep getting moved from nightstand to purse and never seemed to be where it needed to be. Now, I keep that list as a sidebar on my Meanderings and Muses blog. My laptop seems to always be in my lap, so easily accessible. And at year's end, I copy and paste that list into a blog posting and link it in my sidebar so I can access it easily.

    As far as a reading plan - no. Except there are a few "auto buy" favorite authors that I grab as soon as they're available. But I love the joy of discovering a "new to me" author too.

    I also receive an awful lot of ARCs, including the one I just finished - Reed Farrel Coleman's THE HOLLOW GIRL. wow. Just wow. It's so perfect and ties up the Moe Prager series so completely and so beautifully that it eases the pain of it being the last book of one of my favorite series.

  27. Congrats to Hallie! And thanks for all the great reading suggestions. I sort of keep a running list in my head of books I want to read--but, like Kim, if I read something by a new author and fall in love with the writing, I'll hare off down a side track and who knows where that will lead? I don't keep a count or a written list or set goals--books are just there. Books will always be there. When I don't want to read anymore, it will be because I'm dead and gone. If a book really inspires me, moves me, makes me think, I'm likely to record quotes and my thoughts and comments in my personal journal. And to all the Reds, thanks for the many hours of pleasurable reading!

  28. Hallie, congratulations! I loved There Was an Old Woman. What a well-deserved honor!

    I wanted to add that last year my reading list was comprised largely of authors that would be at Bouchercon, so I stuck to it a bit more, as I wanted to have read the books of authors I would meet and listen to speak. I count 2013 as one of my best reading years ever. After all I found the Jungle Reds and all their great books.

    Oh, and Deb, definitely go on and read All Clear next, as it is actually a part of the whole story. When I read the two books, Black Out came out in February, and All Clear came out in September. I had to wait to finish the story. As Susan said, have All Clear sitting beside you, waiting to go. You will be glad you did. Then, I'd go back and read the other books, including the long short story, Fire Watch.

  29. This has been a fascinating topic! I read all the time, and in many areas of my life I am super organized, but until this moment I've never even seriously considered organizing my reading. But I will admit to having had that experience of getting a book from the library, starting it, and realizing I already read it.

    My leisure reading has two distinct components. For years now I have listened to audio books on my daily commute, so I probably average 50 books a year that way. Those I choose on my weekly visit to the library with almost no premeditation. I browse what's on the shelves and select something. It represents a mix of known authors and literally judging the audiobook by its cover. And I've stumbled onto a lot of really good writers that way!

    My physical books and my Kindle books, on the other hand, are more planned. When I hear one of the Reds or another favorite author has a new title coming out, I will often pre-order in one of those formats. And if a friend passes along a book he or she loved it is usually paper.

    Oh, and for 2014 there is one more component. I have signed on for a reading challenge of re-reading all Deb Crombie's books. Halfway through the second one already, and thoroughly enjoying the re-visits.

    This post and the lively comments has inspired me. I'm going to invest in some kind of reading journal and start keeping a record myself. I wonder how many books I will find I really read in a year? Can't wait to see!

  30. I read what I MUST and only after that do I get to read what I WANT TO. And I've learned not to read if I'm writing, because it is too easy to adopt overtones or undertones of someone else's voice.

    I also HATE lists. Where do you want to be in five years? Alive and functioning. Anything else is gravy. Make plans and God/the Universe laughs.

  31. Am writing down Connie Willis in my little black spiral bound book that was a freebie from a trade show. I write down titles and authors that sound interesting. I check it when I've read it. I also put an X if I bought it. I write down the author and all his/her books in order when I find one I enjoy. But that is for new to me authors. Old reliables are in my head and I know when a new book is coming out. On the time travel theme I've been reading Diana Gabaldon and Susanna kearsley. Also Bee Ridgeway.
    As for shooting for a certain number of books to read, no need. I'm retired so have plenty of time to read. Which I do instead of grocery shopping and cleaning house. To my husband's dismay. I have always read. My older brother and I were bookworms as kids. I regard reading as a necessity not a hobby.

  32. Congratulations, Hallie!

    I forgot to mention earlier that I am sure I read a MINIMUM of 100 books per year - that's barely 2 per week - and I'm generally reading 2 or three books at one time. I don't plan it; reading is just something I DO, just as breathing is something I DO.(Just like Lucy/Roberta said.)Some weekends,if the weather keeps me home, I manage three or four books by Monday morning. I don't watch TV; reading is my main source of entertainment.

    If I read and enjoy a book by an author who is new to me, I then seek out each and every book ever written by that person. What a joy that is!

    A couple of people asked me if I confuse books with each other, since I read more than one at a time. To me, that's like asking if I confuse my nose with one of my toes or one of my elbows, since all of them are on the same body! No, I do know the difference! I read different books for different reasons (entertainment/education/solving a puzzle, etc); my body parts all serve different purposes, so I do know the difference between a right elbow and a toe on my left foot!

  33. I am most definitely a random reader. I keep a list of to-be-read on Goodreads. Hallie, a time-traveling serial killer? That is so going on my list (and huge congrats on the Edgar nod for THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN - I still have my autographed ARC from Bouchercon 13).

    I keep track of "read" books on Goodreads too. That's as close as I come to a journal.

    Part of the problem is that I read to suit my mood. Which means, when I need a break from murder and mayhem, I often go back to old favorites, like Harry Potter or LoTR. There's just something superbly relaxing about diving into an old favorite.

    Oh, and count me in for the beach-hammock-books vacation!

  34. Deb Romano, you crack me up! But I'd no sooner confuse books than my nose and toes, either.

    Kathy Reel, I'm ordering All Clear right now, so hopefully I will have it by the time I finish Blackout. And thanks for the bookshelf compliment. That was part of my huge 2013 Book Purge. There are nine more shelves that size scattered around the house, and several six-footers in the downstairs office.
    And no, the books aren't alphabetized, but they are organized in a way that I, at least, can find them.

  35. I didn't even mention the Kindle books! Argghhh!!!

  36. I am totally disorganized. Kind of an ooooh shiny book picker. :)
    I used to read a lot more. And I find reading on my phone is A LOT slower for some reason. I used to read a book a day. Now the Internet and STUFF seems to get in the way. I always wanted to keep at least a list of what I've read, but I can't even seem to do that. I have on occasion picked up a book and thought, That sounds good! Only to discover I've read it, I even own it!! ;)

    Pen M

  37. I haven't been a "scheduled/organized" reader since 1st grade. We had a competition to see who was first to "reach the moon." I won by reading 210 books.

    These days, it's much like all the other commenters: it's random; I have a wish list on Amazon (it seems to remain constant in the 60-70 books range); my TBR pile is a mountain range; and, not surprisingly, my dream vacation is the same as the Reds!

    Not complaining one iota though because who wouldn't want to have too many books, too little time?!

  38. Well, somehow I just got away from reading due to college, then work, then marriage. I became more focused on music and television. After my divorce I came to realize what I was missing. I am SO HAPPY that I started reading again and Deborah Crombie, you are one of my very favorite authors. Someone gave me Where Memories Lie and I read it in one day - it got my highest grade. I then started with the first book and I'm almost caught up with the series.

    I've discovered so many wonderful authors and books along the way. Of course, now I have to read all series starting from the beginning. I take chances with new authors by shopping at places such as and and seldom have I been disappointed. I do also buy new books from favorite authors. I haven't made the leap to electronic books yet but I know that will come because older books seem to only be available in those formats. Libraries (especially mine) have gotten rid of so many older books.

  39. I meant "too many books, ALL the time."

  40. Thanks, Greg. That's my writer's curiosity at work:-) And I wondered because my husband was a big reader when he was younger, and now doesn't read fiction at all. All the reading time goes to the computer and streaming movies and TV.

  41. Wonderful topic, Deb. Thank you for stimulating this conversation.
    I have some "must read" books for reviewing and as a screener for a regional book prize competition. But mostly, I read for pure pleasure. How do I find my books? I'm inspired by the NYT book reviews, both Sunday and during the week and by NPR interviews. I also listen to recommendations from my librarians and bookseller pals at my independent book store, and, most important, my friends. We talk books constantly and share our enthusiasms for authors.
    In fact, my blog--which covers books, reading, and writing--addressed the joys of sharing actual books, as well as book recommendations. See
    And let me add to the chorus of congratulations to Hallie. Your book was one of my favorites this year.
    And thanks to Deb who has influenced my own writing with these words of advice: "Read, read, read. Then write the kind of book you absolutely love to read."
    I'm trying!

  42. Hallie, congratulations on your Edgar nomination! I think you are brilliant.

  43. Hurray for Hallie!

    And all of Connie Willis's books are grand, Deb. You should plan on reading them all.

    I keep lists of books I want to read on my computer. Some are classics I never read or that I want to reread. Some are fascinating literary, nonfiction, or sf/fantasy titles I've heard about. I have a list just for poetry and another for crime fiction since those are the two areas in which I write at the moment.I have a long list of upcoming titles by favorites and friends.

    Yet I haven't kept a journal or list of any kind of what I've read. Maybe I should start doing that.

    Like so many of us, my pleasure reading time has shrunk under the pressures of reading for research for current writing projects, reading manuscripts to blurb, reading for reviews I've committed to do, etc.

    Illness is usually a reliable time for pleasure reading, but this pneumonia I'm just getting over didn't allow that. My head and eyes hurt so badly that I couldn't read--and what a downer that was! Reading has always been the way I cope with illness and pain. i can read again, but I'm back to work and trying to catch up, so it's the usual story on pleasure reading. *sigh*

  44. I have to use Goodreads to keep track of all the books I know I want to read. Making quarterly and annual goals is fun, and they help to stay motivated, although I usually switch out at least half of the titles I put on my list at any one time. No doubt those books will make their way back onto another list someday - so it's all good.

  45. I am always so sorry I didn't make a few notes on books I've read, because those details are so slippery. But I found a way to trick myself into doing it. I started a "Reading . . ." section of my website ( and write just a short paragraph review and link to the print or audio version of the book itself. This is another way to add fresh content to the site and make a record for me!

  46. Loved this post!

    This year I want to at least keep notes on most of the books I read & WHY I loved the ones I loved! Assembling that list of my best of the year would be so much easier too!

    Yes, I have New Year's reading resolutions -- usually resolutions to read more of a given author. And always to read MORE, of course!

    Brenda Perrott Williamson