Reading More in 2017

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

In 2016, I worked in more reading than I had in 2015. I love reading, but for some reason in 2015 I ended up with a bunch of abandoned books (I’m not one of those who feels I must finish reading a book I’m not enjoying).

Not only do I love reading, I know that reading makes me a better writer. That’s why I’m pushing myself to read even more in 2017 than I did last year. I’ve got new ways to make that happen, which I thought I’d share with you.

There are a few things that I’ve done differently:

Used a Goodreads account. I opened a Goodreads account under a different name so that I wouldn’t appear to be using the site to promote other books–I only wanted to use it as a reader. I’ve learned that it’s a very helpful site when it comes to reading. So frequently I’d read a book and then forget the author or title. This way, I can follow authors and learn when they have new releases. Goodreads also sends me newsletters with suggestions for other books to check out.

Spent more time at the library. I got out of the habit of writing at the library in 2015 because I was being productive at home. But I’ve found that I can make even more progress on my book…plus find things to read, myself.

Taken advantage of my Amazon Prime Kindle First benefit. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can choose between four (usually) selections for free each month. There have been some good choices. Even better, some of the choices have helped me read books in genres I might not otherwise have read.

Used OverDrive more. This ties into my library time, but it’s online. I request books from my library’s OverDrive site. Popular titles have a waiting list, but I never seem to stay on it very long before getting the book. It’s delivered right to my device and I don’t have to worry about returning it to the library.

Used an extension to find out whether a book I’m interested in is at my library. Jane Friedman mentioned this cool extension in one of her Electric Speed newsletters. It’s called Library Extension and currently just for Chrome browser users. When you’re browsing books on Amazon, it will check your library’s catalog to let you know if the book is available (check first to make sure your library is supported–they support 3200).

Develop ‘for later’ lists and wishlists to always have something to read next. It’s not the reading that takes the time…it’s the finding something to read. This is ironic, since there have never been more books on the market. But not all books are good fits. Not every book makes me want to sit down and read.

What are your reading plans for 2017?

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19 thoughts on “Reading More in 2017

  1. At the end of 2016 I started reading about self directed learning as I planned for my sons’ education (they’re homeschooled). I came across the idea of an independent grad school, which included creating a reading list for a subject you were interested in, seeking out other research opportunities, and coming up with a final project. I thought that was a great way to organize the research I needed to do for the sci fi/fantasy series I want to write. I made a list and got through many of the books on the list (with still more to go).

    In general, I’ve been reviewing books on Amazon for years, and your rank is, in my experience, linked to frequency of new reviews. Trying to make sure I maintain my rank is a good motivation for picking up new titles on a regular basis.

    Thanks for the tip about the Library Extension! That will save me a lot of time.

    1. Deb–I love the way you designed that…that the reading directly enriched your writing and gave your research structure. I really need to do something similar with the mystery genre. There are so many classic mysteries that I haven’t read.

      Ah, that makes sense about how Amazon calculates rank. So that motivates you to pick up new titles and review them (keeping up with genre trends/reader trends at the same time. A nice system!

      1. It was really easy for me to figure out what non-fiction titles I wanted–because I’m going to be doing more world building than I usually do, I want to be well-grounded in military history, among other things–but figuring out what fiction titles I wanted to read was harder. That’s where my stalking–I mean, befriending–my local librarians has come in handy ;-)

    1. Exactly! Although the library has now imposed a limit on how many acquisitions a patron can request here in Charlotte. I sometimes wonder if I broke their system. :) I used to recommend tons of books each year, but now am limited.

  2. I think reading is such an important part of what makes a good writer, Elizabeth. But it is hard to to balance it all. I like your idea of having a plan, so that you actually make time for books.

  3. Oh dear, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about having a plan to read more because I’ve always just read and read and read. But lately I notice I’m not reading as much or as frequently as I used to. I’m not sure why. I guess if it continues,I’ll try to figure it out. These are some good suggestions for discovering good things to read. Thanks, Elizabeth.

  4. My mom (a sprightly 84) is a voracious mystery reader, with hundreds of books on her Kindle, plus the ones that I get for her from my local library’s book sales. We’ve recently figured out how she can loan her ebooks to me. That’s this year’s game: “Catching Up with Mom.” I’ve already read more books this year than I did all of last year!

  5. I use Goodreads’s Yearly Writing Challenge to prompt myself to keep reading. Every time I finish a book and review it, it pops up on my list and I pat myself on the back. I read 30-35 books a year. It’s not a ton, but it’s a couple of books a month, which I can usually manage. I read a lot of fantasy, and most of those books are huge.

  6. Hi Elizabeth – I really should read one good book – rather than note things, or research, but not actually read – something I need to turn around. Interesting post by Ryan Holiday … thanks for these thoughts prior to the A-Z … perhaps I should read after that … cheers Hilary

    1. I think your natural approach is probably Ryan’s approach–you note all the things you find fascinating about history or your environment and then compile them into your writing. It’s very thoughtful reading, but I know what you mean…sometimes it’s nice just to get lost in a good book!

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