Two simple secrets to reading with intentionality

I set a Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for 2016 to read 100 books. This isn’t that far off from the number of books I would read without an official reading challenge – the big difference is that I’m also challenging myself to be more intentional with my reading.

I’mReading List: Q1 + April | strategysarah.com a big fan of mindless fiction – 90% of the time I would pick fiction for a relaxing escape over a movie or TV shows. (I recognize this choice puts me in a minority.) I’m also a fan of non-fiction, and I tend to be in the middle of several non-fiction books at once, as different types of non-fiction fit different moods.

In past years, I’ve been a sucker for books free on Amazon Kindle, which means I have read way more horrifically horribly written fiction than I should have simply because it’s free. In the last year, I’ve worked to be much more intentional with my fiction, either paying for Kindle books or getting books (both hard copy and eBooks) from the library.

I’m a huge fan of Anne Bogel’s ModernMrsDarcy.com, her daily Kindle Deals emails and her new-ish podcast, What Should I Read Next. I credit Anne with the majority of my expanded reading horizons in the past two years. Thanks Anne!

So…what have I read so far in 2016?

The Stats

I finished March exactly on track at 25% of my reading goal with 25 books read. I ended April with 31s books read, just shy of the 33 books read needed to stay on track.

Of those 31 books, 13 were non-fiction and 18 were fiction. At the end of March I was at 12 non-fiction and 13 fiction, which is a significantly higher ratio of non-fiction than I would have guessed (go me!). Then April happened, and the higher fiction ratio is fairly reflective of the stress (and escapism) of my month.

Favorites

My favorite book of Q1 was (still is!) The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. When I started reading The Power of Habit, I loved it. You know the books that come to you and just the right time? This was one of them. In a random coincidence, I purchased this book as a Kindle deal last August, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it until February and March. I had no idea that Duhigg’s new book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business released in March.

I did order Smarter, Faster, Better immediately after I finished The Power of Habit, but I haven’t managed to read it yet. It’s on my to-read list for April May, but the way this month is going, it’s looking like it will may end up a June read.

I also started the Outlander series, which I’m loving. As of today, I’m finished with the first three in the series and waiting on my library request for the next. It would be good for my productivity if this doesn’t show up for awhile. I’m a huge sucker for historical fiction and credit the old Gilbert Morris House of Winslow series that I read with a percentage of my understanding of US history.

Of the fiction I read, The Girl You Left Behind was my 2nd favorite after the Outlander series). Ironic, since I wasn’t a huge fan of Me Before You, which is the only other JoJo Moyes book I had read prior to this year. I also read After You, which I did like more than Me Before You, and in a sense, it redeemed that book for me, although I still like The Girl You Left Behind best of the JoJo Moyes books I’ve read.

Intentional Reading

I mentioned that I’m being more intentional about what I’m reading this year.  Two keys to reading intentionally are:

  • Plan ahead for what you what to read. I do this by keeping a running to-be read list in Goodreads. You could use a sheet of paper, a note in Evernote, a special notebook, post it notes, or any other creative solution. With a running list, I’m able to quickly scan my to-be read list for a book that fits my mood and is available. I also use this to reserve books at the library – many new titles can take several weeks, or even months to become available.
  • Abandon books quickly if you’re not into them. I used to be terrible at always finishing books, even if I hated them. Now, I give a book at least a chapter to give it a fair shot, but quickly abandon after that. I’m also finding that many times it’s just not the right time for a particular book. If you have a book that you started and abandoned a year or more ago, pick it up again. You might be surprised.

What are you reading? I’d love to know! Share your reads in the comments, friend me on Goodreads and we can share what we’re reading in real-time.

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