My Reading Process
Hello, fearless reader! This post is all about how I:
- Find which books I want to read
- Acquire (or rather loan) said books
- Read them
- Reflect on them
If you've been meaning to read more but aren't sure how to get started, or aren't satisfied with your current reading process, this post is for you! Some parts of the process I've been doing for years, others are parts that I'm actively working to do more diligently and improve at. Let's dive in!
Finding Books to Read
Unfortunately this isn't a very universal or sustainable way of finding books to read, but I honestly just go to Powell's books in Portland, OR and see what's on their shelves that looks interesting. They have a wide selection of new books, sprinkled with classics and a-few-years-ago best-sellers, and wandering their aisles + checking the new and recommended list provides me with plenty of reading suggestions! One caveat: this definitely involves judging books by their covers, and I'm not ashamed of it. I honestly like reading books that I know nothing about because it avoids coloring my experience with expectations, and much like the halting problem you can't know if you'll like a book until you've read it anyway. So, a cover seems a fine thing to judge it by. I also occasionally will have books recommended through blogs I read, people I talk to, or just general gossip, but for the most part I find books through Powell's. If you're not in Portland, I highly recommend finding a local book store and doing the same!
With the rare exception of cookbooks or books I want to take notes in, I get all of my books from the library through Overdrive (Libby is their new app -- I haven't tried it yet, but have heard great things!). You can get e-books (for kindle, or that you can read on your phone or laptop) or audio books, and depending on the book they get new releases pretty quickly (e-books faster than audio books). In general I'd say about 80% of the books I'm interested in reading are available, and those that aren't I request from the library and they tend to get there eventually. The library automatically checks books out for you when they become available, and you have them for 3 weeks and can renew them if you aren't finished, just like for the 'regular' books. I love getting books this way because it's 1. Free, 2. Supports our local library, and 3. Makes it super easy to listen to and read books. You can even listen at faster or slower speeds, add bookmarks, and see the history of books you've read. It's a fantastic resource, and I can't recommend it highly enough!
Being a capital-m Millennial, I tend to prefer audiobooks to e-books so that I can "read" while commuting, doing chores, running errands, and so on. After discovering Overdrive about 3 years ago, I went from reading maybe 4 books a year to reading at least one book each week, and it's completely changed my life. While listening to books is definitely a different and less engaging experience than reading them, I simply don't have the time to sit down and read very often, and audiobooks have made the entire world of books available to me in a way literature never was before. It's also had the side-effect of making chores, commuting, and other boring activities things I actually look forward to, as it's a chance to listen to a story and unwind from the day. Like food, reading is a personal business, and you should do what works for you. But if not having time to read is what's been holding you back from picking up a book, I highly encourage you to give audiobooks a try!
This is the part I'm especially terrible at. I was pretty good about writing short book reviews of the books I read for a while there, but fell off the wagon and have never managed to get back on since. I know Goodreads is a great resource for reflecting on books, and even better having discussions about them, but I've also not been keeping up with that either. For now, my reflection is mostly internal, but this is something I'm working to change!
And that's it! This process has worked for me for years, and I hope there's some helpful hint here that will help you read more and enjoy what you read! If you're not sure which books to start with, here are some of my favorites. Happy reading!