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On Having A Reading List For The Month

A photo of a stack of books and a list of books to read underneath

I’ve noticed that many bloggers, in their monthly round-up posts, include a list of the books they plan to read in the next month. It intrigues me as it’s something I’ve never done. I do write a list of goals for the year, but it is always in the knowledge that it’s not the be all, end all, and that a year is a long time. I suppose you could say I find monthly book lists too rigid. This month I’ve had to make a list because I received several ARCs, but that’s different – it’s a one-off and the circumstances are new; I’m choosing not to count it.

I don’t plan my reading beyond the odd “maybe” because I suppose I’m one of those in-the-moment readers. And I say “suppose” because I’ve only now realised it. It is rather in keeping with my post on requiring certain moods for certain books – I read by mood and if my mood doesn’t like the look of Tolkien then I won’t read Tolkien. I find mood important in the enjoyment and appreciation of books and therefore to have a list only to go against it would not work for me. It would be a failure.

I guess I see a monthly book list as a chore, and yet so many people use them and find success. And I have wondered if the organisation leads to more reading happening – without a list it’s easy to spend a while staring at your bookcase, undecided. I am generally a list person. I plan most of my reviews, I keep a database of the books I’ve read this year, a list of blog post ideas, and a note of when books need reviewing – but planning my reading is something that eludes me.

Do you plan your reading? Why/why not?



October 5, 2012, 3:59 am

I do plan my reading for the month, otherwise I wouldn’t read anything. I’m too indecisive! However, if something doesn’t suit my mood I quickly discard it and find something else from my list. I do have to have a loose plan to keep me on track because I am lazy ;)

Allison (Allure of Books)

October 5, 2012, 5:29 am

Once I plan my reading, it become something I HAVE to do rather than something i want to do. I just can’t do it!

Ana @ things mean a lot

October 5, 2012, 8:57 am

Yeah, I feel similarly. If I have a list I HAVE to follow, I begin to feel trapped. Sometimes I write down the titles of books I want to get to in the next little while, but I tell myself I can always opt out.


October 5, 2012, 11:07 am

“I suppose you could say I find monthly book lists too rigid.”
Me too, I know I can be fickle and lead by my moods when it comes to reading, so I don’t like to plan too much in case I find I need something totally different. Like when I finished Cloud Atlas, I needed to read Peter Pan before Parade’s End due to the emotional wreck Cloud Atlas left me in.

I actually have a mini list for the next week, as I got a haul in from Amazon Tuesday. But, like you. I usually play it by emotional need. We are actually very similar readers.

I think to-read plans can be marvellous, but they aren’t for me.


October 5, 2012, 11:20 am

I love the idea of being that organsied but like you the rigidness of a reading list probably wouldn’t work for me. I do tend to have a loose plan of books I want to get around to soon but if I’m not in the mood then I’m free to pick something else.


October 5, 2012, 11:48 am

Hmmm… sometimes? If I’m trying to keep track of what needs doing, yes… but a list does add to the “chore” sensation.. love ditching the list for an irresistible, spontaneous read :D


October 5, 2012, 2:34 pm

Hmm, yes, I do this. I have to! I get between 6-10 ARCs a month that have to be read by a certain time and then there are books in my book case that have been there so long, that if I don’t plan to read them, I will never do so.

So, yes. And it feels like a chore in a way, but I choose these books because I thought they were going to be fun, so why should they not be fun. There’s still some room for mood-reading (moving the books on the list around).

jenn aka the picky girl

October 5, 2012, 3:07 pm

I’m a list girl myself, but reading lists are so anathema to my nature. I don’t accept many ARCs for that very reason. I don’t want to be bound by my reading.

I have always always read a lot of books but how and why I pick up any particular book I leave to my mood. If I try to force it, I’ll end up reading really slowly or becoming easily distracted.

Blogging wasn’t something I took up to make my reading an enterprise. I certainly don’t plan on allowing it to change that.


October 5, 2012, 4:04 pm

Yes, I plan my reading beforehand. Because making lists is a lot of fun, but unfortunately executing the reading plan isn’t always as good a pastime. I stick to my reading plans for about 50% or more, then add books that I happen to find in the bookstore or at the library.

Andrew Blackman

October 5, 2012, 6:39 pm

NO, I hate planning. I only do it for things that are real musts. Reading for me is a pleasure, and I like the serendipity of picking a book off the shelf and discovering something new. I do like keeping track of what I have read, although I haven’t been as comprehensive with that recently. Completely agree with you about mood – usually I have a load of books I’ve bought but not read yet, and which one I pick depends on what mood I’m in.

I even struggle with planned blogging events like German Literature Month or the recent Tabucchi Week – I always do it last minute and sometimes not at all. And I don’t like all the challenges of reading a certain number of books a year or a certain number of a particular type. For me, again, it makes reading like work, and it should be the opposite of work.


October 6, 2012, 7:25 pm

I only plan my reading as far as a handful of ‘these are the books I’d like to read soon’. Usually there is a variety of genres in that mix so that I can go whichever feels right. I also ingore that list of read soon books and pick up something completely different. My blog name IS Whimpulsive after all ;-)

Review books make me plan my reading too much and that’s why I’m limiting them so severely lately. I want to do even less planning. I think a strict list and due dates do make it seem like a chore or a job.


October 6, 2012, 8:18 pm

I’ve started planning a little more. Mostly I now keep my to-read-for-review books in boxes, by month. I try to finish each box by a certain date, but let myself pull books from any upcoming boxes in any order I like. It’s not fair to a book if I read in when it’s not what I want to read.


October 7, 2012, 4:07 pm

Whenever I’ve tried to plan my reading, it has failed miserably. I get pouty and rebellious and start sneaking off to read other things that weren’t in my plan. I’m the most plan-oriented person ever, so it’s kind of weird that I can’t plan my reading! But I’ve just never been able to. Even a fairly rough plan, like, this month I will read a lot of young adult fiction, or this month I will read a lot of CS Lewis, completely fails.

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

October 7, 2012, 11:40 pm

I go back and forth on reading lists. Sometimes they’re really helpful, they keep me focused when I’m feeling indecisive. But when I make lists for things like reading challenges, I inevitably want to ignore them and just read whatever I want.


October 8, 2012, 9:07 pm

Anbolyn: That’s a point I can identify with, not having a reading plan can lead to twiddling thumbs. I like your method.

Allison: That’s one of things I think, it takes the fun and spontaneity out of it – and thinking of how that’s often why people stop accepting review copies, it worries me. Especially as a blogger on books.

Ana: Good plan. I keep a “soon” list in my head, if it can be called a list when I forget it a lot – but then if I forget it perhaps I didn’t want to read those books as much as I thought.

Alice: I guess I better put Cloud Atlas on the “go careful” pile! Amazon hauls, I find they get a list, too. But with so many books on the TBR it’s easy to get distracted. I’d agree with you on our similarity :)

Jessica: Yes, you do seem to often get to the books you cited previously, I’ve always been a little in awe of that. Though the freedom to change if you want is good, and it’s evident on your site, too (to good effect if your reviews are anything to go by :)

Jennifer: That’s actually a reason for a list, I’d say – having a list for the very fact of being able to ditch it. Wonderful! It’s not something you can do in school so it’s very freeing as a blogger/reader.

Judith: That’s a point, ARCs are generally chosen by us. I’m finding my list for ARC reasons works, but I wonder if it’s because they are mostly literary fiction and easier to read whatever the mood.

Jenn: I’m on two books but one is definitely something I’m forcing myself to read and it’s going slowly. I know that situation well. Good point, and if we don’t enjoy reading we won’t have anything to review, and then what’s the blog for?

Tze-Wen: Lists are indeed fun. They don’t look it, but when you’re creating them they are. 50% is a good way of reading, and likely makes you feel you’ve acheived quite a lot, which you of course have.

Andrew: Your comment is making me wonder how you write your own books, if you plan or write freely, etc. Yes, I need to get to Holloway Road already. It’s the pile of unread books when you’re not in the mood for any of them that can be difficult, I have a similiar load of books. I’m with you on challenges, I like to give them a go but I do find the 24 reading one difficult, even if I get through it. No number of books here, either. Been there, tried that, became disappointed with myself!

Suzi: Yay for plans that are highly changeable and long-term. Good idea to include a variety of genres, I hadn’t thought of that, and a concious decision like that sounds great. I love your blog name, makes total sense whilst not being a real word. Good point about review copies, it’s interesting how people are limiting them now in order to have freedom.

Liviania: That’s an interesting method, and sounds very workable, as it were, and much better than my current ARC list (that is literally what you see in that photo, a written list and a pile of books). Good point, the mood factor should definitely be applied overall, to both our own books and the books we receive for review.

Jenny: Interesting that you rebel, I guess you really shouldn’t plan your reading ;)

Kim: Reading challenges are difficult to plan, it takes the fun out of it because it’s long-term. I guess they can work if used only so often, as you do.



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