Like most avid readers, I have a list of books that I plan to read. It’s a long and messy list, with just about every genre thrown onto it. This TBR list features books I saw in bookshops, ones I spotted on Tiktok, or recommendations from friends. It’s currently at 105 books, and I have no doubt that it will get longer before it gets shorter.
But I never usually plan what I’ll read in order. I’m a bit of an opportunistic reader, and I like to see what mood I’m in when I finish a book. If it’s a book I struggled to finish (yes, I always finish books, it’s an awful trait), then I’ll likely go for something easier next, a guaranteed win. If it’s a heavy non-fiction book, I might opt for romance or fantasy next.
It also depends on what’s going on in my life. Am I travelling? Something on my Kindle then. Am I sick? A paperback I can sniffle my way through. Am I taking the train a lot? Something I won’t be embarrassed to be seen reading. Am I slipping back into my depression? Reread a Marian Keyes novel.
I decide my next read when I’ve finished my latest, and that usually works well for me.
Until I realised just how long my TBR list was getting, and that I seemed to not be reading any books from that list… I was finding new reads or revisiting old favourites instead. I had become a rogue reader and something needed to be done.
So with nine books left until my yearly goal of fifty-five, I decided to plan exactly which books I’d read ahead of time.
I’m an overthinker. I’ve accepted that fate. So making this list was going to involve a lot of overthinking. I couldn’t just pick nine books, I had to deliberate and weigh the pros and cons.
I had three months ahead of me, including a trip to the UK, a birthday trip with friends and going home for Christmas. This meant I had to plan my paperbacks and e-books accordingly, as I needed the packing space for cute tops.
I wanted to space out the non-fiction books, as I find myself to be slower with those books and I just can’t enjoy them as much. I also needed to carve out a special spot for the release of ‘Dear Dolly’ by my favourite Dolly Alderton!
Here was the final list of books:
7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Nine books in three months - should be do-able. Now to see whether I could stick to this list!
In the eternal words of Hannah Montana…. “Nobody’s perfect”.
I managed to read six out of nine books. I had a 66% success rate. Personally, I think that’s pretty decent, considering a bout of Covid and depression flare-up got in my way. Also, I managed to read three non-fiction books in this period, which is something I usually struggle with! That’s 50% of my total non-fiction reads for the year.
These books got added to the list:
I randomly read ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ when I got Covid and needed something enjoyable to distract myself. I received ‘Getting Published’ as an early Christmas gift and couldn’t wait to start!
Could I have been stricter with myself? Probably. But at the end of the day, reading is supposed to be pleasurable. I’m glad I tackled some more difficult novels and non-fiction books. I had been meaning to read ‘Black is the Body’ since I randomly discovered it in a bookshop in spring. I learned a lot from this collection of essays. I got to tick some long-lasting items off my TBR list.
But I’m also glad that I comprised when necessary. I made sure that reading stayed fun and avoided slipping into a reading slump, and that is far more important to me.
I loved organising my TBR list in this way, and I’ll definitely do it again! It gave me a lot of guidance and encouraged me to tackle some more difficult novels, ones I’m so glad I’ve read now. But I will always listen to what I want to read, as I never want reading to be a chore, or books to become mere items on a list.
These 9 books marked the end of my reading goal of 55 novels! You can check out my full list on Goodreads, and I’m sure I’ll be reviewing my favourite reads soon.
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Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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