Tools For Writers: Your ‘To Read’ List

by Randy Murray on February 12, 2013

There is so much to read, so many good books recommended by friends and others, so many books that I’d like to read, but perhaps not right now.

I’ve found that if I don’t write down these possible books to read that it’s unlikely that I’ll remember them when the time is right, when I’m ready for just that particular book.

My old method for getting around the problem of forgetting was simple: when someone mentioned an interesting book I’d buy it. The stacks of books beside my office chair are a testament to this method. It works, but it’s expensive.

A simple notation in my journal works too, but it’s hard to find. I have to search through all of the unrelated notes to find that simple recommendation of what to read. It’s not a workable solution.

I often find myself in that particular state when I finish a great book and I momentarily panic, thinking, “I have nothing to read!” Looking at the pile next to my chair isn’t comforting enough. It’s not a big stack. It might not have the right book to suit my mood. My To Read list helps to calm me. It also lets me add books that sound interesting and important, but ones that I can’t summon the interest to read today. Perhaps tomorrow or next month. Perhaps next year.

I’ve started using Amazon as my To Read List. When I hear about an interesting book, I look it up on Amazon and put it in my Wish List. It’s very easy using my iPhone and it’s more accurate than a hurriedly jotted note. I can quickly look up the recommended book and in one click it’s saved with all of the details I need in the future to remember why I put it on my list.

I’m careful to instruct my loved ones that just because something is on my Wish List doesn’t necessarily mean that I actually want it as a gift. It only means that I found this book interesting at the moment and wanted to go back and consider it. That also means that I have to clean up and prioritize these lists prior to Christmas and birthdays. I don’t necessarily buy these things from Amazon, but it’s a convenient (very convenient) place to find and put books on a list for future reference.

Some people fear putting things on lists. They’re indoctrinated in the principles of doing things and accomplishing stuff. If it’s on the list it must be done. Not so with your To Read list. Anything can go on there. If it sounds even mildly interesting put it on the list. Those classics of literature that you never got around to? Put them on the list. Those guilty pleasures of childhood that you’ve secretly thought of reading again? Put them on the list. That complex and challenging book that your friends raved about that tantalizes and frightens you? Put it on the list.

Then read what you want. When it’s time for the next book, pull out your list and pick something. Or put it away and search for something else. While you searching for that next book to read you might come across others that interest you. Add them to your list.

Take pride in having a long, varied list. A long To Read list isn’t an indictment against you. It’s a sign that you have an active mind and wide interests.

And for me it’s a relief to always have something ready to read next.

Tools For Writers: Your ‘To Read’ List by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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