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.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! 25 BOOKS!! THAT’S HILARIOUS!!
(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: I 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.)