About this time every year I go into a reading panic. All three of my book groups are in full swing, the latest titles from some of my favorite authors are showing up on my holds list, and all the summer and some of the fall galleys are clamoring for my attention. It’s exciting, maddening, and terrifying all at once.
It’s exciting because I love knowing I have a stack of books to open and discover. It’s maddening because in my more lucid moments I know that something on that stack isn’t going to get opened. Something on the ereader is going to be archived without ever being downloaded. It’s terrifying because I don’t want to miss the next big thing in the book world. I don’t want to miss this year’s Tiger’s Wife or Salvage the Bones or 50 Shades of Grey.
But my reading time is selective and exclusive and with more frequency than ever, rare. I don’t just despair of all the books I need to read, I’m concerned with all the professional journals, online newsletters, blogs, GoogleReader, and magazines that are piling up all over my life–on my coffee table, in my inbox, on my nightstand, on my desk.
A couple of months ago, I read a great article that reminded me how important reading is to me and also how I can control all my out of control TBR piles. It’s advice you’ve already heard but I’m a big believer in refreshers and reminders, which is why I’m going to share the article here.
Those straight-shooting folks at Lifehacker always have something smart and pithy to say and this article on managing your reading and reading time is no exception. I found almost all of what Alan Henry had to say useful and I’ll be picking up Clay Johnson’s book, too. But the information that encouraged me the most came from a 2009 study by the University of California San Diego that Mr. Johnson references. He said the study revealed that many folks are actually reading far more now than we did in 1980. He cites the Internet for the rise in reading. But Mr. Johnson also points out that if our retention or focus are faltering, it’s likely due to the increase in multi-tasking that’s pulling our attention.
So what does this all tell me? I need to look at my TBR piles, both physical and actual, and apply some judicious weeding and prioritizing. And I need to remind myself that reading is a reward, a joy, and deserving of all my attention when I do it.