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Reading to Finish 2010

Reading to Finish 2010 post image

It’s mid-November, I’ve read 93 books, and I only have two remaining “official” review commitments (books I agreed to be part of a book tour for). I have a big reading commitment coming up in January that I am excited about, but that is going to dictate my reading for a little while in the new year.

With that in mind, I’ve decided that I’m going to spend the rest of 2010 reading whatever and however I want.

But since I’m an over-thinker and a perpetual organizer, I’ve been going over a few strategies about how I might do this, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts about. Also, I’ve been reading some studies about how having too many choices can make people unhappy, so I’m hoping to increase my happiness by  scaling back my reading choices.

Plan 1: Meeting My Reading Goals

My biggest reading goal for the year was to balance the number of review books, library books, and personal books I read. I started out trying for 50 percent personal, 50 percent other, but that didn’t last long. Last time I checked, I was at 36% owned, 31% review, and 33% borrowed. I’m certain it hasn’t gotten better — 9 of the last 12 books I read were from the library or for review.

If I’m going to come close to meeting that goal, I could spend the entire rest of 2010 just reading my own books. And I have a lot to choose from — here you can see my entire TBR shelf, which is starting to overflow and take over the mantle. Getting through 10 – 15 of my own books would be awesome.

Plan 2: Returning Books to Friends and Libraries

Over the last 6 or so months, I’ve collected a few books from friends and from the library that I keep neglecting to read. I could focus specifically on these borrowed books, and then get them back to friends before 2010 is out, starting out 2011 with a clean slate of my own reading. Some of these books include:

  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson – Borrowed from my sister because I’ve wanted to read this book forever.
  • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – Recommended by my friend Jess because it’s fiction with a journalist and intriguing narrative structure.
  • Guests of the Sheik by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea — Recommended by my friend Kristin because she knows about my love of first person accounts of women in the Middle East.

Plan 3: Catching Up on the Review Stacks

Right now I have 23 books that I’ve received from publishers/publicists/authors for possible review. I’m pretty selective about the books I accept, so they’re all books that I’d like to read sooner rather than later. But finding the time is tough. Some of them are still from BEA – how embarrassing! Again, if I could read and review a few of these before the end of the year, I’d get to start 2011 feeling like I’m almost caught up. Options here include:

Plan 4: Chunksters!

I’m close to reading 100 books for the year, but what if I slowed down just a little bit? I have a few big, thick books sitting on my shelves, just waiting to settle into. I’ve been carrying around The Odyssey for a few days, and it’s kind of fun to have a huge book in my bag (even if my shoulders are starting to object). I could dedicate the end of the year to a few of my chunksters without feeling guilty about not reading something else or worried I won’t have time to finish a book in time for a book club or scheduled review. Books in this pile include:

Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up with a combination of these approaches. I’m leaning towards finishing up books I have to return to other people, since it seems rude to have had their books for so long, but I’m open to suggestions.

Any of the books listed seem like “must reads” for the end of 2010? What is your approach to end of the year reading – is it different from how you approach book choices at other times of the year?

Image Credit: the queen of subtle via flickr

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Christina November 12, 2010, 7:31 am

    I’m the same way; an over-thinker who is always trying to read books on a whim. I know I don’t have the time until after finals are over (Dec. 16), but I’m still sitting here making a list of the books (out of my stack at school) I want to finish before returning home. Of course, there are also all the books at home I would like to read before year’s end (i.e. The Grapes of Wrath ).

    Good luck with your year-end goals!

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 10:41 am

      Christina: Yeah, I want to be a read on a whim sort of person, but when I have too many choices I just paralyzed and can’t choose anything. That’s why I need a plan – good luck with your goals too 🙂

  • Trisha November 12, 2010, 7:38 am

    I would definitely read Packing for Mars. And I would suggest reading The Devil in the White City – and inspire me to since I’ve had it on my TBR shelves for so very long. 🙂

    I think it’s hilarious that you decide to go in for some unstructured reading time and immediately start planning things out!

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 10:43 am

      Trisha: Yeah, it’s sort of goofy. but I read a bunch of studies that say when you have too many choices it can actually make you less happy. Therefore, limiting my book choices = more happiness 🙂

      I think I’m going to start with Devil in the White City, since I’ve had that one for just about the longest.

  • Fyrefly November 12, 2010, 8:53 am

    Packing for Mars and The Devil in the White City are both great, and you should be able to get through them pretty quickly (Mars, at least). I also really liked The Meaning of Night, and think that fall is an appropriately atmospheric time to read it.

    I didn’t like Special Topics in Calamity Physics at all, but I think that’s a very polarizing book – some people love it, some hate it, and it’s very hard to predict who will be which. If you start it, though, and find the first 50 pages annoying, you have my blessing to give it up… the rest of the book’s much the same.

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 10:45 am

      Fyrefly: Thanks for the recommendations — the first two you mentioned are both on the very tippy top of my list 🙂 I do love Mary Roach.

      Good note on Calamity Physics, I’ll keep that in mind. The table of contents intrigued me, so we’ll see.

  • Amy November 12, 2010, 9:00 am

    What a hard decision Kim! All sound like fun 🙂

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 10:45 am

      Amy: All reading is made up of hard decisions – so many books, so little time!

  • Leeswammes (Judith) November 12, 2010, 9:51 am

    They’re all good ideas but maybe it would be good to stick to one of them, so you actually notice that have achieved something. You’ll noticed the difference at the end of the year if you have: read your own books, or only read review books, or were able to return all your friends’ books, etc.

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 10:48 am

      Leeswammes: I think that’s a good point – sticking with one plan will make it feel like an accomplishment by the end of the year.

  • Lenore November 12, 2010, 10:02 am

    I read Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marissa Peschel for my first readathon, so though it is a chunkster, it went quickly for me. I am one of the ones who loved it!

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:39 pm

      Lenore: That’s really good to know – it’s hard to tell whether books that big will go quickly or not. I hope it ends up being good when I get to read it!

  • Word Lily November 12, 2010, 10:03 am

    Packing for Mars sticks out as one you should definitely read before the year’s out.

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:41 pm

      Word Lily: I haven’t read a bad review of Packing for Mars yet, which makes me want to read it.

  • Esme November 12, 2010, 11:07 am

    I quite enjoyed Sarah’s Key. I have some commitments that I also want to finish before the years end. And then I want to read what I want to read. I need to count how many books I have read this year.

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:42 pm

      Esme: Awesome, I’m glad that one is good. Jess really liked it, so I’m optimistic.

  • Gwen November 12, 2010, 12:25 pm

    Please read The Devil in the White City! I really liked it and am always curious to hear what people think of books that were really a hit with me.

    I am having a tough time getting into How to Become a Scandal…Can’t really put my finger on why. Well, that isn’t true, I can, but am hoping that will change if I keep picking it up.

    Anywho, as to your plans, how about rotating? One book from each plan? I try to rotate one commitment read for work, one fun read, one commitment read for the blog, one classic, etc. It doesn’t seem to make my stacks any smaller, but keeps me from being overwhelmed.

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:47 pm

      Gwen: Early in the year I was doing a rotating thing between my books, review books, and other books, but I think I got off track in October/November when I took on too many review commitments.

      I started Devil in the White City this morning, and so far it’s good — fingers crossed!

  • Eva November 12, 2010, 3:46 pm

    I read Guests of the Sheikh a few years ago and really liked it! And I just got Meaning of Night from the library; I can’t wait to give it a go. My Maasai Life sounds like it has the potential to be really good or really bad, so I want you to read it and tell me if I should give it a go. 😉

    My reading doesn’t usually change much towards the end of the year, except for a scramble to finish whatever challenges I’ve fallen behind on. I’ve decided to quit challenges, though, so it’s bsusiness as usual for me!

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:48 pm

      Eva: I agree with you on My Maasai Life – the premise sounds like it will be good, but execution is always a question.

      I don’t do a lot of challenges, so I’m glad I don’t have to scramble to finish anything up 🙂

  • Ash November 12, 2010, 7:21 pm

    I don’t know about what books seem like must reads, but my personal strategy for this year is to just finish books I already own for the year. I think that is the easiest way to go about things because then you can still read review books because you already own them, and you have considerable freedom to read whatever you want. I reordered my TBR shelf into order of priority, so the books I’d really like to read in the next few months are on the top of the shelf and books I could put off are on the bottom.

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:50 pm

      Ash: That’s a good way to do it! I have all of review books in order of when I got them, but the rest of my TBR is just on that shelf.

  • Bibliophile By the Sea November 12, 2010, 9:23 pm

    Looks like you have a lot on your plate for year’s end as well. Hope you find the time to read what you enjoy and not be pressured to read all of your review books.

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:51 pm

      Bibliophile by the Sea: Well, mostly just stuff that I have on my plate that I put there. I just want to read too much 🙂

  • Erin November 12, 2010, 10:40 pm

    It never occurred to me that there were so many ways to organize a few months of reading! I like all of your options. I’ve not read any of the books you listed, and I can’t see the titles on your TBR shelf well enough to tell what they are, so I can’t specifically recommend any one book. It would be nice to start the year with a clean slate, though! I’ll be interested to see what you decide!

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:53 pm

      Erin: I think too much about books, I think 🙂 I really want a clean slate of something before the end of the year – borrowed books seems like the easiest way to do it.

  • softdrink November 12, 2010, 10:58 pm

    Packing for Mars is a fun read, so if you go that route, it shouldn’t be too much of a chore. 😀 And I loved Devil in the White City.

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:55 pm

      softdrink: Yay, both books I am really excited about. I usually love softdrink approved nonfiction 🙂

  • Jenny November 13, 2010, 6:47 am

    Well, The Odyssey is always a must-read in my opinion! In spite of your poor shoulders, which, dude, I really sympathize. I am reading a massively heavy book right now too. And Special Topics in Calamity Physics is also pretty good.

    • Kim November 13, 2010, 4:56 pm

      Jenny: I’m really liking The Odyssey so far, it’s pretty awesome. I can only handle one heavy book at a time, I think 🙂

  • Lisa November 13, 2010, 10:55 pm

    I’m kind of in the same boat. Except I’m trying to also read enough books to meet at least most of the challenges I signed up for. But I’d also love to get through more of those review books!

    • Kim November 14, 2010, 8:39 am

      Lisa: I signed up for one challenge this year, but I don’t think I’ll finish it. Challenges just never work for me, even when I’m really excited about them I get distracted and don’t finish. So, luckily I don’t have that to contend with 🙂

  • David Guion November 15, 2010, 6:33 pm

    I just came across a copy of Devil in the White City I got a couple of years ago for Christmas. It looks especially interesting because I have done (and published) research about the Worlds Columbian Exposition. I had let it slide and forgot about it. With all these recommendations, it looks like I’ll have to actually read it pretty soon. Oh for a 48-hour day!

    • Kim November 15, 2010, 6:45 pm

      David: That would be a very cool connection to the book. I did a college research paper on the Exposition, but don’t remember much at all about it. I’ve really only gotten good recommendations about the book, so I think it’s at least a must try. And agreed – more hours in the day, please!

  • Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books November 20, 2010, 1:05 pm

    Oh, read THE DEVIL AND THE WHITE CITY and SARAH’S KEY! You’ll learn so much from each of them (meaning, they’re interesting and pull from true history). The Tatiana de Rosnay is definitely a novel/fiction, but involves the Vel d’Hiv (which I knew NOTHING about). Is the other billed as history or fiction, I don’t remember.

    Good luck reaching your reading goals, Kim!

    • Kim November 22, 2010, 9:30 pm

      Dawn: I just finished reading both of them, and you’re totally right – I learned a ton from both. I knew nothing about Vel d’Hiv and wow. It amazes me what people will do to each other.