When I ask people what they’d like to spend more time doing, “reading” comes up a lot. For good reason! Scales of human happiness find that people enjoy reading more than watching TV (to say nothing of work or housework). The problem, of course, is that reading makes more demands of you than TV watching does. Consequently, it’s always easier to turn on the TV (or start surfing the web) when leisure time appears. To read in a distracted world, you need to make a conscious choice to read.
The good news is that it is quite possible to do that. I believe that even busy people can find time to read. And I also believe that when busy people choose the right things to read, they magically start finding more time to dig into their books!
Hence, the creation of “TO BE READ: Ready-made lists for the ambitious reader.” Get my new reading guide now by signing up below.
I think that one of the things that stops busy people from reading more is that figuring out what to read takes work. If leisure time is already scarce, who wants to invest some of that leisure time in plotting out the rest of it? But one of my great discoveries in life is that fun sometimes takes effort. I decided to accept that, rather than fight it. Now I build in 30 minutes every 2 weeks or so to figure out what should go on my “To Be Read” (TBR) list. I look at suggestions from blogs (particularly Modern Mrs. Darcy), and from publications (O magazine runs many reviews, as does the Wall Street Journal). I started reading through lesser known works by authors I’d enjoyed in the past. Now, if I find a new author I like, I’ll read through everything she’s written. I’ll look at Amazon’s algorithms and see which other authors are suggested as being similar. If I’m reading one non-fiction book on a topic, I might read another book on the same topic to give me a different perspective. I’ll also read through books mentioned in other books I’m reading!
Now, I always have a good idea of what to read next. Good books make me want to read. When I’m reading a good book, I turn what would have been magazine reading time into book reading time. When I’m reading a good book, I do less of other things (email checking, puttering around the house), and more reading. The key is just figuring out what I would really enjoy.
This brings me to the goal of this reading guide. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year figuring out what to read next. I want to save you some of the effort! This reading guide has seven ready-made TBR lists with suggestions of books to read in sequence on certain themes. Each of these lists should occupy you for at least two weeks (unless you read really fast!) and often closer to a month. They explore a concept from multiple different angles. They sometimes stick with an author for a while so you can get a sense of his or her style.
Here are the seven lists, which themselves need not be read in sequence, though I’d suggest reading each individual TBR list in the order suggested:
- American Originals
- Embracing or Escaping the Small Town
- Your Best Life
- Encounters with the Absurd
A few notes on the suggestions. First, I really, really enjoyed reading all of the books in the guide (and in two cases, writing them!). There are plenty of books out there that you might know are important, and accomplishing something exciting in a literary sense, and yet you still find yourself counting pages. Those books are like eating spinach. That is not the case here. I promise that all these books are highly readable.
In some cases, I deliberately chose one book by an author, and not others, because the chosen book is more accessible and immediately pleasurable than some of the author’s other titles. If you find you really like an author, please do go read his or her completed works! Likewise, feel free to supplement any of these TBR lists with other books (post a comment below or drop me a line — lvanderkam at yahoo dot com — because I welcome suggestions).
I know your time is limited. I want reading to be fun. I also know that when reading is fun, you will spend more time reading.
Get my new reading guide now!
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(NOTE: Some folks have reported that the form is not showing characters as you type them in to the fields. The good news is that if you do type your name and email address in the boxes, even if you can’t see them, it will let you download the guide!)