Sunday Salon: Reading Plans, and the lack thereof

 The Sunday 
Salon.com

We’re entering the ninth week of 2011, and I’ve read and reviewed nine books this year…a perfect book-a-week pace! I’m not projecting that it’ll continue that way, but by my standards, it’s not a bad start.

However, I knew going into it that my reading for the first couple of months of the year would be somewhat regulated by commitments; I had books to read for the category I was evaluating in the Indie Lit Awards, the first Faith and Fiction Roundtable selection, and a blog-tour review all on the calendar before the end of February. But the commitments gave me some focus, as well as something to focus on while recovering from the shoulder surgery I had in January. (Side note for those of you following the Shoulder Saga: I’ll be out of the Ultrasling and starting physical therapy next week. I’m literally counting the days, y’all!)
At this point, that particular set of commitments has been fulfilled, and I don’t have any more to speak of until late March/early April. However, I DO have towering TBR stacks all over the house, an e-reader that is far easier to manage one-handed than physical books are (a genuine point in its favor right now) and which holds at least a dozen unread books that I don’t count in TBR Purgatory…and no real plan of attack for most of it.

Oddly, I have more solid plans right now for books I’ve already read (and for those who were interested in reading or re-reading Bird by Bird and/or The Handmaid’s Tale with me, I will be posting details in early March). But there is one thing on the horizon for an unread book: the oldest book in TBR Purgatory is on the verge of being liberated! When Melissa posted that The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen was one of the books she planned to tackle for the Chunkster Challenge, I asked if she’d consider making it a buddy read. Having moved that book through four homes in nine years without cracking it open, I clearly needed some motivation – fortunately for me, she agreed. We’ve discussed tackling it during the second half of March, but haven’t formalized anything yet.

Most of my life as a reader hasn’t involved much planning; in fact, up until a couple of years ago, I resisted thinking more than a couple of books ahead. Although I do gravitate toward structure in many areas of my life, reading really wasn’t one of them – so I’m now a bit surprised to realize, after several weeks of very planned reading, that it seems to have become one. I’m more surprised – and a bit dismayed – to realize that I like it that way, and that not having a plan for the vast, largely unstructured wilds of TBR Purgatory (current population: just under 300, not counting books for review) is unsettling me. Review obligations and reading projects do give my reading time a framework; I’m just a bit at loose ends right now about how to fill the gaps in it.

How much do you plan your reading, and what dictates those plans: review dates, reading challenges, book clubs, or other commitments? Or do you resist planning it at all?

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