Tuesday, March 12, 2013

5 Tips for Managing All The Books in Your "To-Read" Pile

Those are all the books I'm attempting to read right now. 10 books! Do you know what happens when I try to read 10 books at once?

NOTHING gets read. 

Can you relate? 

"So many books; so little time." But when I do have time, I don't know what to read. So, I read a little here, a little there, and then I never get anything finished. 

Some books are required reading like Unexpected Love, which I'm reading for Booksneeze and Othello, which I'm reading for the "Classics Catch-up Challenge." 


Others are library books that I have to read within 1-2 weeks like Making the Most of Your Child's Teachable Moments, The Pleasures of Reading in the Age of Distraction, and The Last Kingdom


Two books are ongoing reads for different Bible studies I'm in: Sick of Sex and The Ten Commandments of Parenting


The others are books that I really want to read right now: The Still Point of the Turning World and The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

So what's a bookworm to do? 

1. Prioritize. 

If you have books you have to read like for a publishing company, an online challenge, a Bible study, or book club, then by all means those books should get precedence! 

I confess that there's something stultifying about books you're required to read, even if you really wanted to read them initially {think "required reading for school"}. Still, make those books your priority so that after you read them, you can grab a more pleasurable read or something from the backburner.

2. Purge. 

It isn't possible--for me at least--to read 10 books at once. As I'm discovering, doing so only leads to literary amnesia: I can't remember who's in which book or what's going on; it's all a blur. Instead, know your limits (mine is 4, but only when I'm getting sleep), and purge everything else. 
  • Put books back on the bookshelf 
  • Return books to the library for later
  • Give the book back to your friend with the caveat that you'll "be back"
Then, create a Goodreads shelf for books "To-Read Next," so once you finish a book, you have another one in line. {Don't you hate not knowing what to read next? Now you can stop the needless worrying :)}

3. Stop the insanity! 

I know we have free will, but every. time. I go to the library I feel compelled to drag home a few new books. And every. time. a friend recommends a book I borrow or buy it. 

Instead, I have to learn to say "no" for now, and add those gems to the "To-Read Next" shelf. It's so hard not to give in to the temptation, I know, but don't overwhelm yourself.

4. Read! 

I know that's obvious but if you intend to read those 8,000 books on your 2013 reading list, then you've got to set aside time to do it, whether while you're on the treadmill, in bed, or in the car (audio books, people, not bound books). {Check out my post for tips on how to find time to read.}

If you've got some required reading that's killing you (i.e. Wuthering Heights or Anna Karenina), give yourself an incentive to finish. For example, as I waded through Anna Karenina, I kept telling myself: "When I finish this book, I can read something fun."

5. Repeat. 

I know right now that I'm going to have to invoke the "Prioritize-Purge Cycle" at least twice a month because, well, I'm a slow learner and a bit stubborn. But I believe that it will work. 

A Few Extra Tips

* If you have a block of time to read during the day, set time limits. I do this at night: from 8:00-9:00 p.m., I read my "Have-To Read" books first--for 30 minutes-- and then finish with a fun read just before bed. That way I get in both my required reading and something light and pleasurable, too.

*Look for audio books or MP3s so you can listen to books while driving, exercising, or cooking dinner. 

*Download a few books on your Kindle or iPad or use the Kindle app on your smartphone so you can read books on the go.

What about you? 
How do you manage your "To-Read" book pile? Do you struggle with "So many books; so little time"?

{This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting my blog!}

Other relevant posts:
For the Love of Reading: A Busy Mama's Tips for Making Time to Read
My Reading List for 2013...Tentatively
Reading the Classics: Why It Matters

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Linking to: The Cozy Book Hop, Raising Homemakers


  1. Oh man - I hear you, that list of to read just gets longer and longer, and some of those books are really essential while others are more for simple pleasure. And it's hard to cross some off - there just isn't enough time. That's why I love the blogging community, I can read the reviews of others and decide if it's worth it to push a book down on my list, or move it up. Such a wonderful way to decide! Thanks for sharing!



    1. Great point, Marissa! While I often add MORE books due to the blogging community, I also find books that I should avoid too!

  2. Reading has become a struggle now that I am a mom. When I am not feeding a crying child, I am usually trying to clean something or sleep! I have had to keep myself from going to the library any more because I know it will just add more books to my growing pile! I just keep marching on steadily!
    I also try to keep a book on my Kindle/Kindle app so whenever I DO find a moment to read, but my 'real' book is at home, I can still READ and make headway!!


    1. I know, Alyssa. Being a mom really makes finding reading time a real challenge! I'm glad you've found some good ways to do it when you can.

      I love your blog and am a new follower on GFC.


  3. Great article Keri!

    I love to read and am always looking for ways to keep up with it all!

    This year I have joined a ton of book challenges and read-a-thons to not only keep myself focused, but to connect with other bibliophiles as well.

    I will be participating in book events both this weekend and next.

    Stop by - perhaps you'd like to join the fun! :-)

    Create With Joy

    P.S. This would be a great article to share at my Inspire Me Monday party! :-)

    1. I think part of my problem with book challenges are that I get sucked into reading books I don't want to read and feel obligated to keep reading them. I like the idea behind it, but don't want to keep reading something that's no good.

      Thanks and I will check out your party!

  4. Great tips!! I've actually found myself having this same issue here lately. Thank you so much for you insight!

    Visiting from The Better Mom

  5. I can relate! Thanks for the great tips! I find that since I started blogging/reading blogs, I can hardly make it through a book. :( I must unplug more so I can get back to reading from my stack! :)

  6. BTW, I meant to say that I popped over from Time-Warp Wife's Link Up Party! :)

  7. Thanks for the great tips! I can never seem to get to all the books I want to read!

  8. I just had a book that I was given to review. I didn't like it. I had to make the choice that it wasn't worth me finishing to write the review. I don't typically put a book down without finishing, but I have to prioritize my time. This book wasn't worth it! Great tips!

  9. Great tips. I'm trying to read more this year and balance the books that have a certain time frame (reviews, library books) with the one that are in my personal library.

    We'd love for you to share your posts at our Finished Friday blog party.