My Haphazard Reading Habits. Let’s Discuss!

Posted March 17, 2017 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Let's Discuss / 30 Comments

The other day, I was reading a fun post on Read All the Things where AJ lists what she calls her Reading Process. She has a really organized and solid approach to choosing books to read, determining what to read next, reviewing, etc. This post made me laugh, not because AJ is funny (though she is—you should totally go read all of her monthly wrap-ups because they’re always hilarious), but because AJ and I are apparently polar opposites when it comes to reading! I thought it might be fun to compare and contrast our styles.

Below are AJ’s steps for her Reading Process. I took these titles directly from her (with her permission, of course) so that I could directly compare our reading habits. Make sure that you read AJ’s original post to get the full effect of how opposite we are!

Step 1: The Hunt.

AJ: She finds lots of her books through other bloggers and recs from people on Twitter and Goodreads. She also follows literary awards.

Me: This is the one area where we’re not that different. I find most of the books I read from other bloggers. I seldom go and ask for recs about specific types of books like she does, though, because I’m usually pretty random about what I pick up and I seldom have specific things I’m hunting for at any given moment.

I don’t follow literary awards at all, I have to confess (unless you count the Goodreads awards, which … yeah, I don’t follow any awards). If I’m being completely honest, books that win awards intimidate me. I kind of assume that if a book is winning literary awards it’s too … literary for me. I know, it’s ridiculous. (The only possible exception to this is the Newbery Award—because those are kids’ books. I can’t be intimidated by kids’ books, right? Probably? Yeah, I sometimes still manage it.)

Step 2: The Hit List.

AJ: Her TBR is organized and she goes through it often to keep it tamed. It consists of books she actually plans to (or at least hopes to) buy at some point. She has about 200 books on her TBR.

Me: My TBR is a mountain wilderness that can never be tamed. I’m pretty sure there are creatures roaming through it that will bite me if I try to get too close.

Actually, I did recently cull my TBR and took off about 200 books (hmmm… that’s AJ’s whole list). My TBR is less of a list of books that I will most likely buy (or even manage to read) at some point, and more of a list of books that look really good. If I see a review for a book on another blog that makes me stand up and take notice, I add it to my TBR. If I see a book in someone’s WoW that sparks my interest, I add it to my TBR. If I see a book listed on several Top Ten Tuesday lists, I add it to my TBR. Browsing Edelweiss (very dangerous!)? The TBR grows. My TBR is currently sitting at 842 books (after that massive culling). Assuming I never added another book to the list (pshaw!) and I read over my goal and managed 200 books a year, it would still take me four years to read all those books. At the rate I’m actually going, it will take me four lifetimes.

Step 3: Stalking My Prey.

AJ: She’s frugal and finds most of her books at used bookstores or on Book Outlet.

Me: This is another area where I’m completely haphazard. My book buying habits are random. I seldom buy books at used bookstores because most of the time if I care enough to own a book, I want it to be all pretty and pristine. I often buy my books (and absolutely everything else) from Amazon because you can’t beat the prices there. But Anderson’s Bookshop, which is about an hour away from me, has a plethora of author events, so whenever I go to an event there, I buy the author’s book from Anderson’s (and big events with many authors are especially dangerous for the book-buying budget!).

Book Outlet is amazing and very dangerous. I can easily find TONS of books there that I want and they’re so cheap that it’s tempting to buy them all. Half the time, I end up buying a bunch of books that weren’t even on my crazy 800+ book TBR (but, of course, I’ve seen them around the blogosphere and I want them anyway)—and I often buy lots of books for my kids from Book Outlet. Because I can justify that to myself.

Step 4: The Holding Cell.

AJ: She limits herself to one TBR shelf, which currently has 25 books on it.


(In case it wasn’t clear, my TBR shelf has … more. And it isn’t a shelf. It’s several bookcases. And my TBR books are often randomly distributed in ways that made sense to me once upon a time, but don’t really anymore. A couple of shelves are organized by color, but I couldn’t get it together enough to do that with all of them. Some series are together … but not all of them. The only shelf that has any organization at all is the one with my review books, which are in order of release date … mostly.)

Notice that the shelf in the middle is pretty and color coordinated.
The one below it is some series that actually aren’t broken up; the one above is random books I haven’t read, but not ones I plan to read immediately … probably.

Step 5: Selecting The Victim.

AJ: She uses a random number generator to pick her next read.

Me: Well, my method is random too. Unless I have a review book that I need to read (often for tomorrow), my book selection process looks a bit like this:

  • Randomly walk around bedroom and look at books.
  • Pick some up. Put them back down because I don’t want to read them. Yet.
  • Pick up more books. Decide on one. Set it down on nightstand.
  • End up walking by a different book and decide I want to read that one instead. (The first book stays sitting on the nightstand.)
  • Remember that there’s a book on my Kindle that I wanted to read/should be reading.
  • Read both the book on my Kindle and the book from my shelf (not the one on my nightstand). And an audiobook that I listen to in the car. (I won’t bother describing the process for choosing that one because it would need its own set of bullet points.)

Step 6: The Analysis.

AJ: She has to write a draft of her review within a few days of finishing or she forgets details.

Me:also forget the details of books (including character names) within a few days. But I’m not nearly as organized, so I usually don’t write my review for weeks. (Unless it’s for a scheduled tour spot that has to go up tomorrow.) I usually have to go back and refresh my memory about details, character names, etc. I often skim other reviews so that I can remember that best friend’s name that’s not in the blurb. Sometimes I write myself a few notes right after I finish the book so that I can remember what I liked/disliked, but more often than not, I’m banging my head against the wall to shake those ideas loose. Somehow I manage to remember the important stuff eventually.

Step 7: Convening With My Fellow Bookworms.

AJ: After she’s done with her review, she reads other reviews to see what people thought.

Me: I read other reviews randomly: some before I’ve read the book, some while reading the book (though I try to avoid this, I sometimes skim some), some right after I’ve read the book and some after I’ve reviewed. Again, my process is completely haphazard.

Step 8: The Purge.

AJ: She’s great about getting rid of her books after she’s read them. She only keeps books she plans to reread.

Me: I never reread books, so why am I keeping them, again? Nostalgia? Prettiness? Maybe my kids will read them someday? All of the above.

Actually, I’m pretty good about getting rid of books I’ve read. I have to be because my bookshelves are already overflowing with books and my husband has told me that I’m not getting more. (He’s actually being very reasonable. He bought me three big bookcases for Christmas a couple of years ago). The ones I keep are favorites, mostly signed copies (or VERY pretty—’cause, you know, that’s important). Still, the books I plan on keeping take up several shelves.


So that’s my reading “process” (I don’t know if you can call all that randomness a process, but we’ll go with it). As you can see, AJ and I don’t have much in common when it comes to our reading styles. But don’t worry, I love her anyway. After all, if everyone was like me and there were no organized people in the world, the world would be chaos! (Okay, so it’s pretty close to that anyway, but it would be worse, I swear.)

What’s your reading style? Are you organized like AJ, random like me or something in between? I want to know!


30 responses to “My Haphazard Reading Habits. Let’s Discuss!

  1. Ah, I love this post! I wish I was more organized like A.J., but yeah…no. I had a TBR and a Wish List on Amazon full of different books, but I do try and go through and get rid of things here and there so it’s not absolutely ridiculous, but still crazy. haha I also own a ton of books that I have yet to read. I do pretty well with getting rid of books once I’ve read them – or if I no longer plan to read them – but I still have a ton because I NEED to read them!! Sigh. It’s a problem. I have a ton of review books to read for March and April, but it slows down after that so if I can refrain from adding even more, I’m hoping to get a lot of books on my own shelves read this summer.


  2. Sam

    Wow! That is all I can say about AJ’s process. Just, wow! I have an obscene amount of books on the Goodreads TBR. Partially because I want to be notified about the giveaways, but also because I want to read all the books. However, I do go in once a month, and trim the list down. Right now, I am on a book buying ban. We have all our BEA ARCs, lots of DRCs, books I have won, over 2000 ebooks on my kindle – you can see where I am going with this. I started doing It’s Monday! What are You Reading? posts, and these have helped me with my planning my week. I only veer from the schedule if a library hold comes up or I get a DRC for a book that comes out soon or is already out.

  3. This is awesome. I’m closer top AJ I think in that my TBR is quite smaller, but like you I’m very random in my book buying- I’m a mood reader and just buy whatever looks good- but I do buy too many books when I could save money by going to the library. But like you if I want a book I want it in nice shape!

    My shelves are pretty unorganized too. Although I’m liking this color coordination thing the more I see it. 🙂

    Greg recently posted: The 100 We Will Rise
    • Color coordinated shelves are so fun! I currently only have two shelves organized that way, but I want to try to do more. Of course, it makes books a little harder to find sometimes, but considering my disorganized process, this probably isn’t much of a problem.

  4. I feel like I’m definitely closer in style to you than AJ, although I did just re-organize my Goodreads shelves. I now have a TBR of only 40-ish, which are the physical copies I own and haven’t read. My “Wishlist” shelf is for books I want to read someday, but don’t currently own.

    I also don’t know why I bother keeping any of the books I read; I very rarely re-read a book these days. But a part of me still dreams of a library like Beast has and how can I ever even think of reaching that level if I don’t hoard every book I’ve ever bought?

  5. No, I get it, I also assume books that win awards will be too literary for me. It’s not even that I’m intimidated though, it’s that that just isn’t really the type of thing I enjoy. I also don’t have an organized TBR. Pretty much anytime I find a book that sounds like it could be remotely interesting, I just add it because I figure what’s the harm? One day it might be the exact type of thing I’m looking for, and I’ll be able to find it!

    I’m very different from you with the review reading and writing though. I usually read reviews before deciding to read a book and then after writing my own review to see what people though. But I almost never read them while reading or before writing my review because I don’t want anyone else’s opinion to influence my own. And I write my reviews asap after reading usually so that I don’t forget and so that they don’t pile up and stress me out. I also take notes while reading about what I like and dislike, so if it does take me longer to write a review, I at least won’t forget!

    • I used to worry about other reviewers influencing me, but I don’t stress about it all that much anymore. I tend to agree with some points and disagree with others and I don’t generally find that I’m swayed much by reading the reviews. I do try to mostly stay away from reviews while I’m reading or right before I read a book if I can, though, because those reviews might affect my opinion more.

  6. Lol, this post is awesome.

    I think being perpetually broke has a lot to do with my reading process. I have to be frugal and rational about everything I buy. If I won the lottery, I’d probably go nuts and buy a thousand books. Then I’d dive into the pile like a swimming pool. There would be no more “reading process.” 🙂

    Aj @ Read All The Things! recently posted: The Get To Know Me Tag
    • I have to confess that a lot of my collection comes from review books from events like BEA where you get over 100 in one fell swoop. Then there are author events that I want to attend and I buy the books to get them signed. I try to be frugal about book buying as much as I can because I have three kids who all have random expensive activities. 🙂

  7. This post made me laugh out loud! I love your comparison to AJ. I am sort organized, but like you I has some disorganized habits. I have a list and I mean to follow it, but then I don’t. My method for finding my net read is almost as good as yours, lol!
    My TBR is a bit more under control, but I only add books to it that I actually own. Today it is at 176.
    I use a wishlist for books I need to buy. That is at 99.
    Of course, I am currently “reading” 5 books. But not really.
    I am right in the middle of you two.
    Fun post!

    Karen Blue recently posted: Weekly Wrap Up #124
  8. LOl. My TBR is basically my Kindle and it’s 1000 books. I don’t keep anything at Goodreads (I never go there) but I have a to-buy list at Amazon I check frequently to see if anything is on sale. Otherwise, I have shelves of books and a Kindle account bursting at the seams. 🙂 I’m never going to read them all.

    S. J. Pajonas recently posted: Sunday Update – March 19, 2017
  9. I loved AJ’s post but my reading process closely resembles yours. I don’t know what it would feel like to only have 25 books on my TBR shelf. I have bookcases and I don’t even want to think about my kindle. I am really bad about waiting a long time to write reviews and have a hard time remembering what I wanted to mention in my review.

    Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books recently posted: Review - The Cutaway by Christina Kovac @christina_kovac @AtriaMysteryBus
  10. Nicole, I am more convinced than ever that we are actual soulmates. This is me. Like, I am actually concerned that you stole the thoughts right out of my head. Because YES. Yes this is how I work, completely. When you described how you “choose” a book, I legit looked around my room like “is Nicole watching me from outside at this moment”? Because that is ME. I do that! I did it two days ago, and I will do it again tonight. And the review thing? ALSO ME. I think “hey, I should totally write this down before I forget” and then 6 weeks later I have to write a review and am like “was this a contemporary? I have no idea.” I love this so much!

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: The 100 Episode 4×06: We Will Rise
  11. I am far more like you on this that some crazy organised person. I mean, my TBR goodreads shelf isn’t quite as high as yours, mostly because I changed to a TBR and a ‘to buy’ shelf for those books I want to read and don’t own and a cull of that would probably shed at least 100 books. And just 25 TBR books? That’s how many book babies my TBR shelf seems to have each month. There is almost a bookcase dedicated to my physical TBR (a small one, but a whole one all that same). I like the idea of a random number generator for my TBR, though. Except there are my library books and ARCs to consider. It’s a whole issue of poor planning on my part, I think. And reviews have to be written immediately before my brain loses all the knowledge of the book, and I thought I was alone having to look at reviews for character names! I am so bad at names, even in real life so that’s something at least.

    Basically, our reading process is very similar, except I keep my books because I will actually reread. I am actually quite good about rereading stuff (eventually).

  12. I believe my process is a combination of yours and AJ’s. My GoodReads TBR wishlist is a combination of books I plan to buy or am drooling over. I reserve their To-Read shelf for GoodReads giveaways because often those book catch my eye, but in the end, I don’t win, usually don’t make it on my actual wishlist. I have a shelf on GoodReads for books I own, which is NEVER up to date, but I try.

    I’m a mood reader so I might start one or two books and whichever one catches my interest first, I stick with. I did this yesterday and opted to read an ARC vs. a re-read.

    I do get rid of my physical books quite frequently because I just don’t have the room! I use those funds to buy more books. *laughs* It’s a never ending cycle. 🙂 I only have one shelf (double stacked) of physical books I need to read. Of course, my eBook collection is much different. Out of sight…out of mind!

  13. I love this post! I do read AJ’s blog, so I know how organised she can be. I can be organised or not organised, so I am kind of a mix between the two of you! When it comes to the TBR list of books I want to buy, I decided I needed to organise a while ago. About a year ago? I had 2400 books on the list on Goodreads, and then I decided to go through and write the list by hand one day. After the first half hour, I realised I had stopped writing a lot and was really only putting down the books I ABSOLUTELY WANTED TO READ in order to save my aching hand. My TBR list is about 6 hand written pages now. Maybe I even beat AJ on that one 😉 However, I do love to shop at second hand bookstores and so on so I just accumilate free or very very cheap books. I have about 200 books in my room which are unread. Which cancels out the decency of my list. Whoops.

    I make notes on a paper which I use as my bookmark when I read books. That way, I can review whenever I want and still remember all the little details (and things I wanted to rant/praise about). 😀 I only buy one book a month, at the end of the month (because I am trying to save money for traveling) and those aspects make me a bit more organised. I guess.

    But I can’t get rid of books. If I rated them 2 or fewer stars I do give them away, but otherwise they stay. Even if I don’t reread ahaha

    Love this discussion <3

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