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Three Keys To A Sumptuous Reading Life

Over the past month, some of my favorite book bloggers have posted summer reading lists. (Modern Mrs. Darcy’s is one of the best; it’s focused and well-researched.) I love perusing these lists and adding books to my to-read shelves on Goodreads.

But I’m never, ever going to make my own summer reading list. Not for myself, not for this blog.

The problem isn’t with making the list. I’m sure I’d have fun doing that. The problem is what happens after the list is made. If I make a list, I’m going to feel committed to it. I would feel I had to read every book on that list from beginning to end, or I’d have failed my blog readers and myself. I would insist on putting every one of those books in my July and August book review posts, so that my readers could see that I held myself accountable to the original list.

And that sounds like torture to me. (I’ve done it in the past, so I should know.)

I’ve heard it said that writers should follow a formula for reading: for example, always be reading a book of contemporary fiction, a book in your genre, and a book on writing craft.

That also sounds like torture to me.

Lists and formulas can be a wonderful help to people who want to encourage themselves to read more, or read better quality books. But so can having a regular system in place to help you consistently find fantastic books so that you always want to be reading. 

(Irony: This is a list. I know. I’m not against lists- in fact, I love them. Just not reading lists.)

The Three Keys to a Sumptuous Reading Life

1. Find high-quality books. Spend some time figuring out where you get the best book recommendations. Is it a friend who always seems up on the latest bestseller? Is it Amazon’s “recommendations for you” page? Find the two or three avenues that give you the best results, and stick to those. I rely on Goodreads and my local public library system, including the digital downloads website. I also love the occasional browse through a bookstore, but I rarely buy there. I just don’t have enough bookshelves at home to support a paperback habit.

2. If you don’t like a book, let yourself stop reading it. It took me a long time to give myself permission to do this. I have no problem turning off a TV show I don’t like. I’ve even been known to walk out of movies I paid for. But because I respect writers so much, it feels disrespectful to stop reading an author’s work in the middle. On the other hand, the author will never know that I did this, and if I stop reading it, I get the opportunity to pick up another book that I may love. Reading hours are precious; there’s no point in wasting your time on something that just doesn’t grab you.

3. Make time to read. If you don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. Pick a location or time of day that triggers reading for you, and start there. The great part is, if you find a book you love (see #1 and #2) you won’t be able to restrict your reading to that one time and place. You’ll be gobbling it down whenever you get the chance.

So while I’m not going to make a list of books that I must read this summer, I am going to use these three keys to read ravenously. I may not know the exact titles in advance, but I know I’ll read fiction and non-fiction of every variety. I’ll read books that make me think, and books that are just for fun.

Won’t you join me? 

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2 Responses to “Three Keys To A Sumptuous Reading Life”

  1. Kathy says:

    Even though I just put up a reading list of my own yesterday, I know what you’re saying here. Why make something hard out of something so enjoyable? I kept my list short and only included books I really want to read this summer, and I won’t feel bad if I don’t read them all, so at least for now I’m not stressing about my reading list.

    I absolutely agree with your three sumptuous reading life points. It took me a long time to be OK with stopping in the middle of a book, but it’s made a huge difference. There are so many books I can’t wait to read–far more than I’ll ever have time for–that I just can’t see spending time with one that doesn’t resonate with me.

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Kathy, thanks! I like your reading list- like you said, short and definitely going to be read. I could, for example, put Elin Hilderbrand’s and Laura Vanderkam’s newest books on a list and I know I’d finish them. But much longer than that and I’d feel the pressure. I appreciate other people making lists- I just don’t want to make my own. But I’ll still share after I’ve read the books, and I do plan to read plenty this summer!

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