We are on the cusp of fall and I love it! It’s my favorite season, and every year, I vow to make it the best one yet – especially in my reading life. Reading under a blanket while sipping hot tea is one of my favorite activities in the fall.
As I was looking at my teetering to be read pile, my dozens of Kindle books, and my ever-growing library list to prepare for my fall reading, I know I need to be more intentional. No matter how I try to prevent it, I’m often distracted by the new and notable rather than what I really want to be reading. Fall seems like the perfect time to reset and reorganize my TBR list – maybe it’s the promise of a new start with the first day of school. I’ve always thought the new school year is as much of a fresh start as January 1st!
Here are five questions I ask myself when reorganizing my reading life. Maybe they’ll help you create bookish fun this fall.
- Am I happy with my reading pace?
I am pretty happy with my progress on my numbers goal – I’ve read 92 books out of my yearly goal of 125. I slowed down over the summer as I’ve tackled the massive Outlander books so I need to pick up the pace a little bit to still reach my goal. I absolutely love the Outlander books and move through them pretty quickly (as fast as you can read a 1000 page book!). However I need to take a break in between the books to fit in other novels.
- Are you happy with the genres you’re reading?
I’m reading mostly historical fiction or nonfiction – over 85% of my reading. That makes me very happy! However since I’m not actively researching for my book, I’m not reading as much nonfiction (76% vs 24%). I need to balance that better.
- Do you have a lot of “did not finish” (DNF) books?
I actually don’t have many true DNFs, and of those few that I do, they are usually books I’ve been talked into reading. I consult a lot of recommendation sources (podcasts, blogs, bookstagram) but I try to keep in mind that not all of these readers are my type of reader. It’s something you learn over time, and once you do, it cuts down on the DNFs.
- Are you held captive by your library holds list?
This question is the kicker for me! When I hear about a book that sounds perfect for me, I immediately add it to my library holds list. This means the books come in sporadically, wreaking havoc with my TBR pile. What will really help me is a new way to keep track of books I want to read or check out but don’t have time to read. Without a tracking system, once I’ve turned it in unread, I forget about it!
To help with this problem, I’ve created a new TBR tracker in my Google Drive, organized by historical time period. This way, I can just add the book there instead of immediately getting it from the library. I’ve included galleys (ARCs) as well so I can keep track of the requests I get – they currently just get lost on my Kindle. I’d love to use a pretty journal but I know I need a tracker available on my phone. I love the accessibility of Google Sheets!
With these sporadic holds coming in, I’m also constantly going to the library. I’m picking one day a week to go to the library from here on out, which will help me keep my due dates straight (especially since my library is reinstating fines soon!).
- Are there any themes or systems you can put in place to streamline your reading?
I’ve found that having a theme or purpose for reading helps me greatly. In the months or years I’ve selected a theme (Year of Historical Reading, October of Anne, etc), I’ve enjoyed having that sense of purpose. However, I need to make the parameters flexible so I don’t feel too hemmed in by the rules.
This year, I’m going to continue with my October theme of reading L.M. Montgomery. Last year I reread all of the Anne of Green Gables series in October, and I loved it. This year, I plan to reread the Emily of New Moon series. Something about Montgomery’s writing puts me in the fall mood!
I’m also going to always have a fiction and nonfiction book going at the same time. I usually do this but I’ve been neglecting nonfiction books for the past several months. Plus I want to always have a Kindle book and an audiobook in progress as well. That way, no matter my mood or location, I can be reading!
To add even more to your TBR list, here are a few of my most anticipated historical books coming out this fall. These are going right in my new tracker!
All of these links are Amazon affiliate links.
Portrait of a Scotsman (A League of Extraordinary Women Book 3) by Evie Dunmore – releases 9/2
I absolutely love this spicy historical romance series and can’t wait for the latest release.
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead – releases 9/14
I’ve wanted to read this Pulitzer-prize winning historical fiction author, and this book set in 1960s Harlem looks like a great one!
A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton – release date 9/14
Continuing my love of Cold War women spy novels, this book looks interesting, especially since the protagonist is spying for the Soviet Union. And I love when historical fiction is based on a real story.
Kings Mountain: America’s Most Forgotten Battle That Changed the Course of the American Revolution by Phillip Thomas Tucker – release date 10/4
This nonfiction history book is all about the Revolutionary War battle in Kings Mountain, my hometown. I have to read this book!
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles – release date 10/5
I think everyone is anxiously awaiting this author’s latest release. I loved his book, Rules of Civility, and A Gentleman in Moscow is on my TBR shelf. I enjoy books about road trips and this one through 1950s America looks great. And with it being Towles, I know the writing will be top-notch.
Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan – release date 10/19
I have two of this author’s previous books (Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving Savannah) on my unread shelves, and her upcoming release will join them (and hopefully nudge them to the read shelf!). This book is about what inspired C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, one of my favorite childhood books.
Love, Theodosia: A Novel of Theodosia Burr and Philip Hamilton by Lori Anne Goldstein – release date 11/2
This is a book I never knew I needed! This historical fiction novel tells the story of these star-crossed enemies to (maybe?) lovers. A must-read for all Hamilton fans!
Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon – releases 11/23
This is the ninth book in the Outlander series, and while I won’t be caught up by then, this one will definitely be a must-read when I get to it!
What questions do you ask yourself when reevaluating your reading? What upcoming fall release is on your must-read list? I’d love to hear in the comments!
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