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What’s a Perfect Reading Month?

What’s a Perfect Reading Month? post image

If you could have a perfect reading month, what would it look like?

I felt awesome when I got done with my reading in January, but looking back at my reading in February, I’m not sure I’d call the month perfect. It was good — I read some books I liked a lot — but I didn’t get through as many as I’d like (only 7), and I don’t think the balance between personal/library/review books was what I’d want to have moving forward. Granted, I did decide to spend the month focusing on review copies, but I think in the long run that’s a bad plan.

So if February wasn’t awesome, what exactly would make a “perfect” reading month for me?

Since I finished my master’s, I’ve averaged about 10 books a month. I’ve been reading more slowly lately, so let’s assume I can read 8 books in a good month. What’s the best way go break down those books to make a month perfect?

I’m in the middle of a read-along of War and Peace, so in a perfect month I would finish the reading assignment over the course of the month. So far, I haven’t done that, but I’m optimistic for March. I also usually have some other group reading book, either for BookClubSandwich or my Madison book club (I have both in March).

Most months I have one or two books I’m reading for review as part of a book tour. Usually it’s with TLC Book Tours, and I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them. I haven’t loved all the books, but I do like stretching my reading for books I’m curious about. I also usually try to read a couple other review books, either ones I’ve had for awhile or books that are coming out that month. I haven’t always done this, but I want to be more proactive about review copies.

After that, it’s sort of a toss-up, a mix of library books and books from my own bookshelf. Which ones I pick are usually a matter of mood, but given my interest very often they are nonfiction.

One thing I’ve wanted to start doing is reading a chunkster every month. I tend to shy away from them because I worry about having blog content, but that’s a silly reason. I have a lot of great chunksters I want to read, so I should read them!

Given all of that, if March were going to be a perfect reading month, I think this is what I would want to read:

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (through the end of Volume 1).
  2. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer for a TLC Book Tour.
  3. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a review copy from HarperCollins which comes out on March 15.
  4. The United States of Arugula by David Kamp, our pick for BookClubSandwich.
  5. Paper Towns by John Green, which is my book club’s pick this month.
  6. Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV by Jennifer L. Pozner, which I have checked out from the library.
  7. Random book! This one could be a chunkster?
  8. Random book!
  9. Random book!

I added a ninth book, since I won’t actually finish War and Peace during the month, and since March is longer than February, I think I can squeeze in at least one more than I read this month.

What would your perfect reading month look like?

Photo Credit: smileham via Flickr

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Steph March 3, 2011, 9:53 am

    Great post, Kim. I have a bunch of chunksters (especially on my ereader) that have been sitting around gathering dust because I too am worried about the time commitment they entail. Oddly I have been in the mood for really engrossing sagas of late, so I have been thinking about tackling some chunksters… but as soon as I start one, I get antsy. I think I have become a book commitmentphobe!

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:07 am

      Steph: Ha, I like the phrase, “a book commitmentphobe,” because it’s so true! I have a bunch of chunksters on my shelves that I tend to avoid, even though I love getting lost in a long book like that, too.

  • Jodie March 3, 2011, 10:10 am

    That is the nerdiest sticker ever btw 🙂 I think my perfect month looks a lot like yours except I’d replace review copies with more book readalong books. There should always be space for some random in there.

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:10 am

      Jodie: I know, isn’t it great! There are so many good photos on Flickr. I’d love to do more readalongs, but they tend to be books I wasn’t planning to read. But I do love the experiences of reading and discussing books with others.

  • Kath Liu March 3, 2011, 12:01 pm

    My perfect reading month would have to start with me sitting, for the entire month, within a bookstore cafe with free access to lattes. Oh and also free wi-fi so I could blog about the books I read. Once ensconced in this perfect setting, I would attack:
    1) War and Peace up to the end of Vol 3 (readalong)
    2) The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-Shek and the birth of modern China by Hannah Puakula (chunkster)
    3) Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
    4) The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
    5) Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah
    6) Zeitoun by David Eggers.

    Free lattes and knocking off a good few TBRs. What could be better, right? 😉

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:11 am

      Kath Liu: That is such a beautiful vision. I would love that so much! reading in coffee shops is such a great way to spend time. Good luck with War and Peace — I’m working on that one too.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) March 3, 2011, 12:40 pm

    I think a lot of bloggers shy away from chunksters for the same reason -at least I know I do. You’re right, it’s rather silly, and it’s something I need to work on too.

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:13 am

      bermudaonion: Maybe there needs to be some sort of “Chunskter Project” where we all just commit to reading one every month. A support group, maybe 🙂

  • Jeanne March 3, 2011, 3:38 pm

    My perfect reading month would be completely unplanned. Oooh, look, I’m there!

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:13 am

      Jeanne: Ha, I love it!

  • Memory March 3, 2011, 6:04 pm

    I actually had a perfect month last April! I reread lots of my favourite books, discovered tons of wonderful new authors and didn’t read a single new-to-me title that earned less than 3.5 stars (which is my “really liked it” rating). It was awesome. I wish every month were that good!

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:16 am

      Memory: That’s awesome, and very exciting. I had a lot of very high starred books in January. Here’s to a great March!

  • Jenny March 3, 2011, 7:28 pm

    Exactly what Kath Liu said, except I’d want regular coffee instead of lattes, and maybe some pastries to switch things up a little bit. I’d read all month long without stopping. And I would read some longer books; like you I’ve shied away from chunksters because of the blog.

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:17 am

      Jenny: I’d probably go with tea or chai lattes, and of course some scones. But otherwise, exactly that! Constant reading, with lots of long books. Excellent 🙂

  • Kailana March 4, 2011, 5:55 am

    Here’s hoping you have as close to a perfect month as possible!

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:18 am

      Kailana: Thanks, same to you!

  • Trisha March 4, 2011, 10:52 am

    You will not be disappointed in numbers 2 and 5. I really liked both of them. I’m not sure what my perfect reading month would look like. It sort of depends on whether I use the term perfect to mean efficient or fun…. 🙂

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:18 am

      Trisha: I was definitely not disappointed in #2, and people in the book club have started #5 and really loved it. I’m waiting to closer to the end of the month to start it.

  • Kate {The Parchment Girl} March 4, 2011, 12:37 pm

    I’m not sure there is such a thing as a perfect reading month for me. When I think about it there are a number of different ways I could define a perfect reading month, not all of them can be accomplished in the same month. A perfect reading month could mean:
    1. Reading 8-10 books that would make for interesting reviews. Doesn’t matter if I like them or not.
    2. Tackling my to-review pile and burning through a lot of the books publishers have sent me.
    3. Reading a lot of the books from my shelf that I’ve been wanting to read but haven’t had the time for.
    4. Reading some of the books from my shelf that I have been dreading, and getting them over with.
    5. Reading a balance of fiction and nonfiction, instead of all nonfiction like I usually do.

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:20 am

      Kate: I like all of those ways of defining a perfect month. Like you said, there are lots of ways to make a month good, but they don’t always go together. I suppose if I made a “Perfect Month” for April or May or June, it would look pretty different from this one — not just in books picked, but in the types of books chosen, too.

  • Lisa March 4, 2011, 8:27 pm

    I do love a month were there are plenty of “random” slots on the plan!

    • Kim March 5, 2011, 10:20 am

      Lisa: Me too! I have to be sure to include some random in my reading or I get antsy.

  • Maphead March 5, 2011, 12:18 pm

    Ahh, this is a very nice question. I would probably spend my perfect month in the mornings in one of those mellow, laid back coffee shops that plays old school jazz on the stereo. In the early evenings I would be hanging out in a nice well-light pub by the fireplace drinking pints of India pale ale and reading.
    But what to read ? I’d probably attack a few books from my TBR. Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God, Diamaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years and Robert Wright’s Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny as well as his Evolution of God would be my choices. I might also throw in Love in the Time of Cholera by Garcia Marquez.

    • Kim March 6, 2011, 11:10 am

      Maphead: Nice! Those sound like perfect places to curl up with a good book. And a great, intense, book list. I like it.

  • Ash March 5, 2011, 6:22 pm

    Good question. In an ideal reading month I would finish at least one essay collection, but this rarely happens. I read a couple review books for TLC Book Tours each month as well and like you I’ve had great experiences with them. I’ve found books I loved that I never would have read on my own. I focused on review copies in February too and I’m feeling totally burnt out. This month I have Spring Break so I’m hoping to finish three-four books during that time. I’m also hoping to read a few poetry collections, something I haven’t done in a very long time.

    • Kim March 6, 2011, 11:11 am

      Ash: I feel the same way about TLC — I find some books I wouldn’t find otherwise, and I get the deadline I need to read them which makes me try to finish them. I miss Spring Break — I used to get a lot of reading done then.

  • Gayle Tzemach Lemmon March 5, 2011, 8:26 pm

    Hello Kim,

    Thanks for your mention of “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana.” I hope you enjoy your review copy of this book which celebrates the unsung heroines who pull families through impossible times every day, all around the world.
    Feel free to send comments and questions along anytime at gaylelemmon.com — I’d be delighted to be in touch.

    Very best and happy reading this month,

    Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

    • Kim March 6, 2011, 11:11 am

      Thanks Gayle! I’m planning to get to the book this month, and I’m very excited about it.

  • Vasilly March 6, 2011, 6:27 pm

    This is a great question! My perfect reading month would be a month were I have a stack of books sitting by that I’m curious about, the kids are at school or daycare most of the day, and there’s no school for me. Maybe no internet connection too! I think I’m going to strive for at least the perfect week soon! 🙂

    • Kim March 6, 2011, 9:35 pm

      Vasilly: Yes, no internet connection! That would be huge. I’d need no tv too, since I keep getting sucked into tv marathons lately.

  • Rebecca Reid March 7, 2011, 3:46 pm

    I think my ideal month is a little bit of obligations (my book clubs) and an older classic and then the freedom to read what else I want, some newer, some older. I’m aiming for about 8 or 9 too. I used to read so much more, but limited time means I must make a choice.

    • Kim March 8, 2011, 6:13 pm

      Rebecca: That sounds lovely. Last summer I was reading 13 or 14 books a month, but I don’t think that’s sustainable. 8-9 seems more realistic.

  • Christina March 13, 2011, 6:37 am

    I love getting to choose what I want to read so my perfect month would definitely consist of low commitments. A perfect month would also consist of access to any books I want to read. I would love to not be limited on what I can read due to access.

    • Kim March 13, 2011, 7:44 am

      Christina: Ah, yes, that would be awesome. The lower the number of commitments, I think the better I like my reading.

      I haven’t had many access problems to books lately, or if I have, I’ve gotten over them because I have so many books I want to read sitting around already, but that’s a great point too.