How to Create a Reading List

Reading Plan Tips

Most people like the idea of being well read. The problem is there seems to be an endless supply of interesting books to read. Most people don’t have the time to research what these books might be, much less being able to start reading them all.

Here’s a guide for putting together a reading list. No one is ever going to read all the books they want to. But this will put you on the road to the enrichment which comes with reading a litany of good books.

Remember, you are building a list for a lifetime of reading. So don’t get intimidated if your book list is a mile long.

1. Keep A List

This might sound elementary. But nobody can keep a list of books they want to read in their head. Keep a “must read” file on your laptop or jot the list down in a notebook. Make short notes about the author and why you wanted to read the book.

2. Join the Crowd

Keep track of the best seller lists of the major publications, such as the New York Times or wall Street Journal. Inevitably, the more you keep track of these, the more selective you will be. You’ll probably find a publication that is more your style, or one you trust more than the others. This is good. This is discovery.

Besides, you’ll be able to say at parties, “The New York Times bestseller list panders to the least common denominator…” and cool stuff like that.

All joking aside, when you look at a list of reviews, you’ll learn a little about the synopsis and writing style, which should help you determine which books you might enjoy the most.

3. Take a Look at the Awards

Maybe you don’t want to read what the crowd is reading. Perhaps you should try what the leading experts suggest are the best books to read.

Famous literary groups give awards every year for what they consider the best books on the market. Take a look at these lists, checking off books which sound interesting to you.

The Pulitzer Prize, The Nobel Prize and The National Book Award are just three such groups. Once again, over time you will find the ones who deliver the books you like best.

4. Literary Review Publications

If the masses and the expert organizations don’t appeal to your, you might find single reviewers more to your likely. These are more personal. You might find a handful of these people whose taste and interests mirror your own. So start researching literary critics and the publications which give these people a public forum.

There are all kinds of magazines which review books. Some specialize in the field. Get a subscription to one or more of these magazines, or check them out at your look library. Not only will it expand your list of potential books, but you’ll be able to read a brief synopsis of each.

5. Join a Book Club

Every town has a book club. These groups take on specific titles and read them, eventually engaging in a discussion of the topic. It’s the pre-internet way of having a book forum.

In the course of these discussions, you will no doubt hear of other books which you would like to read. You’ll make friends who can give you ideas outside of the group discussions, too. And you will have a live group with which to discuss all these interesting books you are reading.

6. Try the Classics

If you find you aren’t happy with the current trends in writing, there are always the classics. They call them classic because centuries of people have enjoyed the books and found them enthralling. They are generally recognized as the best books ever written. So if the contemporary most popular or awarded books aren’t your style, take a look at the “literature” or “classics” section of your local book store.

7. Build a Portfolio

When you find an author whose style you enjoyed, make a list of other books by that writer. If you read an enjoyable book with a bibliography, look at other books which were cited by this author. You’ll get a nice little list of book titles in this way. Research each of the books and figure out which ones sound attractive to you.

Pretty soon, you’ll have a nice list of books which should appeal to you in some way or another. This isn’t a sure shot method, but it probably gives you your best chance of finding subjects and writing styles which work for you.

8. Travel the Amazon

Once you have a list of books, you might look at the reviews on Amazon.com. Popular books might have hundreds of customer reviews for any particular title. This gives you the common man view of the book, sort of a customer feedback perspective.

I should warn you about the Amazon reviews. It tends to draw the biggest fans of a book, so even the worst selections will tend to have a lot of decent reviews. Amazon.com can also draw snarky reviewers. The advantage is you get a lot of different opinions from people willing to take their time to share their views.

There are other internet forums you can use for the same purpose. Once again, find one or two trusted sources which you go to for ideas.

9. Use the Library

Get a library card and use the local library. Your tax money goes to collecting and keeping up this vast collection of writing; don’t let your tax dollars go to waste.

More to the point, a library is a terrific way to have cheap and easy access to a large number of books. The library will tend to have a mixture of the most popular and the most critically acclaimed books on the shelves, so you should be able to find many of the books you want to read.

Browse through the library, too. You’re likely to find all kinds of titles to add to the list.

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