The System

March is almost over and so I’m getting ready to put up my “First Quarter Book List” and since people always ask me how in god’s name I manage to read so much, I figured I’d explain “The System” for a bit.

First of all, I am a really really really really fast reader.  This isn’t like, a bragging thing, it’s a fact. I have no idea if other people read this way, but ever since I was a kid, I just disappear into a book. I don’t register words, I don’t realize I am turning pages, the book just sort of happens in front of me.   You have to yell my name three or four times to get me to respond.

So there’s that.  Also, despite my total addiction to the internet, I really don’t watch very much tv.  I wish this was not the case, this is not a judgment of anyone else, but something about my attention span and television don’t mix.  Even shows I LOVE I have a hard time paying attention to for a full hour.

Anyway, in general I mostly read at night, in bed when most people (ie my husband) are watching Survivor.  And a lot of what I read is young adult and those are short books but I’ve been known to read three books in a night.  So that’s a big reason why I am able to read so much even though I really only read at night.

The actual “system” is pretty simple – I get book recommendations from all kinds of places – blog recommendations, (if you’re not reading Everyday Reading, you should fix that right now, she’ll hook you up with the good YAF for sure), The New York Times Book Review which I subscribe to, ads in the New Yorker (these books are often terrible but the ads always suck me in), prize winners, new books by my favorite authors, classics I always felt like I should read, books my mother buys at the airport and then sends me, my library email newsletter, and books at Amazon that pop up when I add things to my wish list (these are also often horrible).  I haven’t signed up for Good Reads yet because the thought of figuring out something new right now makes me tired.

Any time I hear about a book I want to read, I go to Amazon and add it to my wish list.  (The link is SO NOT me trolling for you to send me stuff, just in case you want book ideas.)  I have an online account at the library and I usually have between 10 and 30 things “requested” and when they come in, Mr. E picks them up for me because he works right next to the library.   When the request list at the library gets low, I open my Amazon list, put some more things on hold at the library, and delete them from the Amazon list.

After I read a book, I write the title in my desk calendar – I’ve marked it 1-200 already so I can tell when I am falling behind on this year’s book reading goal.

I honestly don’t feel bad about hardly ever buying any books because 1. the library is awesome and I love it 2. I can’t afford all these books anyway and I pay taxes so we have a library and 3. most of the books I read are terrible and I thank the lard I haven’t had to shell out actual cash for them.  Occasionally if I really really love something I read I will buy myself a copy of it, and I do buy a lot of children’s books and books as gifts.

So, that’s pretty much it – any questions?  More importantly, does anyone have any good book recommendations for me? I’ve read some stinkers in the past few weeks.


18 Responses

  1. I have a slightly less organized version of the same system. Whenever I hear about a book that sounds interesting, I request it at the library, and I go by once a week or so to drop off books I’ve read and pick up the news ones that have come in. I also just discovered that you can put holds on books that aren’t out yet–so I put Mockingjay on hold. It doesn’t come out until August and I’m already number 46 on the list.

  2. The reading fast thing makes SUCH a difference. I read at least twice as quickly as Bart does, maybe more.

    Also, I love you for not buying a lot of books. I am HORRIFIED at how much people spend on books (especially ones they’ve never read and then turn out to not even LIKE).

  3. i’m a less fast reader and watch more TV so, reading at home just doesn’t happen, unless i find myself with an empty house. i do however have a 45 minute commute to work and back so audio books are my friends.

    oh and my system for finding books i like? there’s this blog you should check out…it’s called princess nebraska. 🙂

  4. “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman is pretty good. It’s like Harry Potter in college. It’s divided into three books with the first being the best, the second almost unbearable (but short), and the third is fun. I recommend it.

    Plus, I don’t see any Sherlock Holmes books on your list (after a brief peruse through your archives). Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is awesome. I would recommend just about any Holmes book – The Adventures and The Memoirs are good places to start. The Hound of the Baskervilles is mentioned enough in popular culture to also get a shout out. I’m a serious proselytizer of Sherlock Holmes so you’re going to get this rec every time you ask for a book if you don’t read them soon!

  5. I’m with you – I do a lot of the same things. I read very fast (actually, two of the last 7 books I read took 2 weeks to read EACH and I was so annoyed at the books by the time I was done … if it takes that long to digest, I stop feeling like I’m getting anything out of it). I usually read several books a week and sometimes a couple on Sunday. I’ve read about 30 books so far this year. It also helps that I travel a lot and read a lot on planes too.

    And I don’t buy books – I have the exact same system with regards to the library, except it involves me picking them up 🙂

  6. Since moving, our new library is horrible – not accessible for me at all, has a non-functioning internet request system, and with a librarian who sighs incessantly when I call to request something – so I’m feeling that loss, big time. (Since we’re close enough to our old library, I may not have told them that I moved. Just in case.) But, like you, I get reviews from everywhere, and I am loathe to buy a book that might actually suck, so I highly recommend That way, all I pay is the postage for the books I’m sending out, and I’ve saved myself a ton of money (and cleared out a lot of dreck in the process).

    I tried keeping a written list a few years back, but that didn’t work for me, so now I use goodreads, where I can also build a TBR pile, and then click over to PBS/amazon to buy if I want.

  7. I basically use the same system, except unfortunately I read very very very slow…like embarrassingly slow…like can’t believe I was an English major slow. And when I read at night I always fall asleep like an old man with the book on my face. At least it amuses Garrett…I’m jealous of the speed. Oh and serious shout outs for the Sac Library — LOVE!

  8. I do the same thing, except with goodreads. I have friends on there with similar taste in books so almost every day I get an email with new suggestions. I keep about 100. Books in my To Read queue. I think I have probably read 400 new books in the 2 years since I started using it. If you ever join, be sure to add me as a friend. I love hooking up with other voracious readers.

  9. I WISH I read that much. I have this problem called Magazine Subscriptions. I know I’m not a super fast reader, but I read fast when I like the book. Perhaps I just don’t like enough books? That must be it. Not the fact that I am lame. Sigh. Liz just gave me Hunger Games so I will have to let you know about THAT. If you haven’t, I think you should read the first Kiki Strike book.

  10. Oooh! I’ve got some good ones:

    – Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
    – The Infidel by Hirsi Ali
    – The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

  11. I’m a pretty fast reader, and reading while nursing or bouncing the baby in his bouncer seat = lots of reading time. Your description of how you read sounds a lot like how I read. I can’t let myself get SO involved these days, since I have to pay attention to my (almost) 2 year old, but yeah, it’s like the story is just happening in front of me. In fact, sometimes books happen TOO fast. I get a little annoyed if it only takes me 20 or 30 minutes to read something that supposedly happened over several months in the book.

    I’m pretty picky about what I read because I don’t like to waste time on books that suck, so I mostly read books recommended by people I know. I figure there are too many good books out there to spend time on the bad ones. Barnes & Noble have these cute little “what I read” notebooks that I use to keep track of what I’ve been reading.

    Recommendations: The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum- read it last summer and found it interesting enough that I am eager for the next book in the series to come out (May, I believe.) I just read Fallen by Lauren Kate and even though I finished it a couple days ago I am still undecided. I will probably read the next book in the series though (due out this fall.)

  12. Have you already read Still Alice? Just finished it and discussing with my book club tonight.

    Also just finished After You (saw it on New Fiction at the library) and started The Unlikely Disciple, which has kept my interest so far.

    I keep a running list of books to read (ever-growing!) and cross them off as I go. I can email to you if you’re curious/interested 🙂

  13. I am in awe of your book-reading prowess!

    I just started reading this British detective series by Sophie Hannah that I LOVE. It’s not YAF, and it’s got some seriously disturbing things that happen… But it’s well-written and engrossing and I want to devour the rest of the series (which I think is just one book that I haven’t yet read, so far… maybe two). So that’s my recommendation to you now. The first in the series is Little Face. I’ve also read the third (The Wrong Mother, because I didn’t research it before reading it to discover it’s part of a series) and am searching for a paperback version of the second, The Hurting Distance.

    I’d be curious – what are some of your favorite kiddie books? The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses is one I buy for all my friends’ kids – which makes me That Weird Girl Who’s Obsessed with a Kid’s Book. But it’s amazing.

  14. I love this system. I also add books to my Amazon wishlist or my “cart” so I can review it later. I belong to so I list wanted books there to see if I can get them for free (I list finished books there also to send them to people who ask for them to get credits for my books I want.)
    I love GoodReads! I was even writing a post about that site on SL. Go, join and be my friend!

  15. I take mega-advantage of the library request system, too. Love it!

    You really should jump on Goodreads when you’re in the mood. You’d be able to use it like your Amazon wish list…but you’d also have an easy way to keep track of what you think of the books you’ve read and see others’ recommendations. It’s only increased the amount that I’ve read!

  16. It’s funny, I’m so with you on staying attentive to a television show. We don’t have cable for this very reason. I’d always end up finding something else to do, like check my email or read a book in the middle of my show.

  17. Love your blog, read it all the time but have never commented. Maybe I should start so I’m not a lurker.
    My method of choosing books? Chasing my kid down the aisles of the library and grabbing something as I go by. I like your method better. But I’ve found some good ones recently.
    The Nature of Water and Air by Regina McBride-written in a very different voice. One of those books you can’t understand why the character makes those decisions, and yet you can’t get it out of your head. A Year and a Day by Leslie Pietrzyk-very good, easy read. And I think I might have been the last on Earth to read Life of Pi by Yann Martel-after the first 30 pages I enjoyed it.

  18. I just read The Boyfriend List, by E. Lockhart, and the sequels, and I really enjoyed them. (I feel like you’ve probably already read them since you’re into YA, but I hadn’t, so who knows.) They felt a lot like the Georgia Nicholson books to me, only not so incredible (and if you haven’t read the Georgia books, PLEASE do immediately).

    I get a ton of my suggestions from Janssen on Everyday Reading! She’s a friend of a friend, and that friend directed me to her blog when I was out of ideas one day, and I have loved her ever since.

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