Karolyn Sherwood, Author

Get To The Bottom Of It!

This post is about reading all the books on your bedside table. It’s not a coincidence that it coincides with many publications’ Best Books of 2012 lists, of which I’ve read exactly ONE. If any of us are ever going to get to those new great books, we all need to get through our previous “Must read” books.

Life is busy; we all know that. But each of us has the same number of minutes in every day, and yet some people get so much more accomplished than others. It’s about PRIORITIES, People. Have you noticed that everyone seems to get done what’s most important to them, yet they can easily be “too busy” to accomplish what others want or expect them to do? (Yeah, I’m talking about children.) But, I digress. This is about your Books I Want To Read list.

I have had at least eight books on my bedside table for months. How is it they never disappear? I read every day! Add to those the books I have purchased that are on my bookshelves gathering dust, and the list on my Goodreads page that I want to read but haven’t purchased yet, plus the books on my iPad that are weighing that down, and don’t forget my audible.com app on my iPhone. Getting the picture? I’m overwhelmed, as I know many of you are.

I needed a plan. I came up with a plan. I am sharing my plan.

Whether or not your TBR list is as ridiculous as mine. There is a way to make a significant dent in it, if not clear it completely. Here’s what you do:

  • Be realistic. You’ve probably lost interest in some of those books, yes? They’re gone. If you haven’t purchased them yet, cross them off your list. If you have already purchased them, give them away. Regifting? No! Not if you bought them, and they’ve never been read. ‘Tis the season!
  • Divide and conquer. Undoubtedly some of them will be quick reads, some might take weeks or months to get through. Let’s focus on the easier lot. (Save the loftier ones for your next Attack of the Books.)
  • Skim or savor? Among the stack of “quick reads,” some are probably more important to you than others (favorite author; information you really need to absorb), and some might be “books you should read” or humorous books. Put the latter kind at the top. This is Pile A.
  • Now, clear your weekend. Yes, if you’re going to take this seriously, you must set aside the time as if you decided to go to the mountains for the weekend, or tackle the mountain of debris in your garage. If it happens to coincide with a snowstorm, all the better. Just commit! Turn off your phone, and for Pete’s sake, turn off the TV and the Internet. Those will always be there to suck away your precious life.
  • Divide again: Let’s say you can earnestly commit 30 actual hours to reading. Look at your books: add the number pages and divide by the hours. (2,000 pages ÷ 30 hours = 67 pages/hour) Start with the easiest book first, and knock it out; skim it if you have to. You’ll have such a sense of accomplishment that you’ll be inspired. Make notes as you go, if you like, or write a brief summary when you’re finished so that by Monday morning, the books won’t all have run together.
  • Read and repeat. Do the best you can with Pile A. With realism and perseverance, you got to the bottom of it!
  • Now Pile B. You may or may not get to this on your first weekend, but you can prioritize them the same way. Stack them according to the order in which you want to tackle them. Get started on these books if you can. Or, if your list is as ridiculous as mine, you will need to repeat this effort a few times a year.
  • Pick a Favorite. Which book is the juiciest book of all? (NO! I do not mean 50 Shades of Sh*t.) This is the one you want to read the most! This is the one you will take home this holiday season. Either you can read it (or listen to it) as you travel. Or, this is the one that will save you from too much family time. Practice this line on the way home: “I love you all so much, but I’m really beat. I’m going to read a few pages and call it a night.” Then of course, you can stay up all night if you want and read in peace!

Okay, fellow book lovers, think you could do this? This is on my calendar for the weekend of December 1st & 2nd. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Anti-Spam Quiz: