As I've mentioned every year during the Summer Reading Program, I am a painfully slow reader. I linger, I consider, I imagine every detail. So I am always intrigued by those who read as part of their work; just how do they read so much? Kerri Miller of MPR's The Thread recently cleared it up—by succinctly and self-deprecatingly acknowledging that she's "boring." You know what that means: if any of us want to pick up the pace, we can. We simply have to choose reading. To that end, I'm trying to avoid finishing one book without having another waiting in the wings. Does that ever happen to you? For someone with a mile-long Goodreads To-Read list (not to be confused with my To-Read-Again list), I find myself without "the next book" more often than I'd like. (Maybe it's that slow reader thing again. It's not like I know I'm going to finish a book every week.) And like Phyllis Rose in The Shelf, I want to dig deep and get past the "it" books. Here are my top five ways of making sure I don't have to endure a dry spell:
- Ask friends. One year I read almost exclusively books that were personally recommended to me, and it was one of my best reading years ever, full of authors I'd never heard of and topics I wouldn't have gotten around to otherwise. And bonus: recommendations are one more thing to jot in my little red moleskin notebook (while practicing my handwriting, of course).
- Subscribe to podcasts or newsletters that sync with your interests. Two of my favorites are The Thread and the New York Times Book Review. (Like a well-written restaurant review, a book review can also lead you astray even when you trust the source. Though, come to think of it. friends can do that too.) Listen to this segment from MPR if you're looking for a book to challenge you this summer.
- Librarian (and bookstore) referrals. Our local university library offers a referral service that allows you to type in three books you loved, a few genres that appeal to you, and a note about what you're looking for, then a real live librarian suggests three books you might like. I tried it last year with great success (and if I could find the link, I would try it again!).
- Book blogs. I would love your suggestions here, as I'm not a consistent reader of any book blogs. I like to see what's going on over at the Nerdy Book Club and I check in from time to time with Book Riot, but I haven't found a book blog that really resonates with me yet. (I know it's out there!)
- A reading theme. As in other parts of my life, a good label can reign me in and keep me moving forward. A summer of kid lit? Count me in. Biographies only? Check. It's been a few years since I read with a theme, but just writing this list (see number one, above) makes me want to get back to it. Hmmmmm....