Summer is the perfect time to catch up on reading -- the days are longer and many of us are on breaks. Whether your personal reading goal is to stimulate your mind and learn something new or get lost in an adventure or romance, here are a few helpful tips for curating your perfect reading list this summer.
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Tackle Your Reading Backlog
You may already have a huge stack of books you've been intending to read or finish. How do you deal with that pile and handle your desire to find more great reads as well?
Think about what's been keeping you from getting to those books in your stack or finishing them. Sift through your pile to make sure you still want to read each of them; purge the ones you honestly will never read but which may have been weighing heavily on you or preventing you from finding new books. If you still want to read the books in your pile someday but find yourself stalling, perhaps you need a broader mix of genres -- keep this in mind when building this year's reading list.
Choose Books Based On Your Available Time
Another thing to factor in is how much time you can devote to reading. If you don't have a lot of time to read, consider looking for novellas and graphic novels, or collections of short stories, essays or poetry, rather than lengthier tomes. If you have a long summer break coming up, add more engrossing or longer books to your list. When searching for new books, you can filter for suitable book types.
Tap Your Friends And Online Sources
When it comes to book recommendations, your friends are often your best bet. After all, they know you and share common interests. If your friends aren't readers or if you'd like to branch out and expand your tastes, you can find other like-minded readers via book recommendation engines and book trading sites, as well as online social networks and blogs.
Check Out Book Recommendation Sites
There are also sites dedicated to helping recommend books to read. Options include What Should I Read Next?, The Reading Room and YourNextRead. You could also use recommendations from Amazon; its "customers who bought this also bought..." feature can yield good results (even if it's just there to sell more books).
Use Book Lists Built By Others
Another way to build your reading list is by going through lists of great books that critics, authors or scholars have curated. Robert Teeter's Great Books Lists is a master list of book lists. You'll find Harold Bloom's list of books for the Western Canon, Anthony Burgess' selection of the best 99 novels since 1939, the New York Public Library's Books of the Century, and many other book lists.
Check Social Networks And Blogs
Social sites such Facebook or LinkedIn or sites with an active community of like-minded people (like Lifehacker) can also help you build a better reading list. A Mensa networking group on LinkedIn, for example, compiled this list of books members would recommend to anyone.
Use Your Local Library
Your local library is another excellent and often under-used resource. Specifically, take advantage of your local librarian -- someone whose job is to recommend and help you find the right book(s). Help your librarian help you by coming in knowing your favourite authors, subjects and genres, and what your want to get out of your book selection.
Be Open To Serendipity
Finally, don't discount pure luck. There's nothing like browsing a bookstore's shelves (or, better yet, bargain bin) and coming away with a new favourite author or book or two. (I discovered two of my favourite writers, Margaret Atwood and Mark Strand, at library book sales, taking a chance simply after reading a few passages).
BookCrossing is another take on book sharing and serendipity. Label a book and leave it in a public place for others to pick up and read and do likewise, making the world your library. This method is a little less reliable for building your book list, as it requires you to find books left by others. Those books are shared with joy, though.
Actually Reading Your List
Once you've found a great new book to read, add it to your reading list. This could be a written checklist, a document stored in some sort of cloud service, or an online virtual bookshelf at one of the reading recommendation sites. If you want to make sure you read your books, you could even add them as lists in your to do application of choice.
Since part of the joy of reading is sharing a good story, consider getting your friends involved in a summer reading club. If you use a social book-sharing or recommendation site, leave your comments about the books you finish, so other readers can benefit from your experience.
Finally, to increase your chances of actually reading these books, take them with you everywhere you go. This is where ebooks can help, since they can sync between different devices. Audiobooks are another useful way to fit more books into your day.
Enjoy your summer of reading!