Most people are not suffering from a lack of things to read. For many people the difficulty is deciding what not to read as there are so many choices available. To get some ideas how people prioritize and choose reading materials, we asked a number of bloggers the following question:
What are your reading habits and how do you choose reading material when there are so many options?
Here are their answers. (4005)
I come across a website through some means or another, and if I like it, it goes in my feed reader. If it hasn’t got a feed, I’ll probably never come back.
But the bulk of my reading is books, and my choices are usually informed by recommendations from friends or because I liked the blurb on the back of the book. I just finished reading Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett and have gone back to read his The Light Fantastic, which I skipped along the way. Anyone looking for reading material should not complain until they have consumed every Discworld book out there.
With the web, it is easy to overlook the value of printed books.
I am a “printed word” junkie so I ready everything from professional literature to cereal boxes and billboards. The public library is a great source for audio books which I use for traveling or exercising.
When I find a reference to a book I would like to read, I add it to my personal Wish List on www.amazon.com. This tool enables me to keep track of books I would like to purchase or receive as gifts.
As a Professional Organizer I work with clients who have accumulated stacks of magazines. Since they will not live to read every one of them, we devise a system that works with their storage space and ability to speed read.
I tend to have a lot of magazines accumulating. I try to go through and tear out any important articles to read later and throw the rest out. Speed reading is an interesting suggestion. I had some speed reading courses in high school. My barrier tends to be my ability to comprehend–not just how fast I can move my eyes across the page.
Finding Effective Self-Help Books
With over 30,000 self-help books currently in print and titles available that address every conceivable type of problem, happening upon a book that speaks to your unique situation and personality can be challenging, to say the least. Because everybody is unique, there are different styles and approaches that will resonate more strongly with your needs.
However, by steering clear of unrealistic, unscrupulous, or otherwise unhelpful self-help books, you’ll stand a much better chance of success. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind the next time you’re in the market for a new self-help volume.
• Beware of fly-by-night gurus. Does the author have credibility as an expert in the field? Check the book-flap bio and do a little investigative Googling to make sure that the book you’re about to buy was written by someone who has a record of verifiable experience and is respected by his or her peers.
• Focus on specific issues. There are many self-help books out there that promise to solve all of life’s problems in one fell swoop. Although the idea of tackling everything at once can be tempting, research shows that it’s better to stick to one issue at a time. The more specific the problem that you are tackling is, the more likely you are to succeed in overcoming it.
• Tune out unrealistic promises. There’s been a rash of bad publicity lately over a new generation of self-help authors that promise their readers the attainment of whatever their hearts may desire. It’s true that you should never underestimate the power of positive thinking, but any self-help concept that sounds too good to be true, probably is.
• Avoid books that privilege style over substance. Before you buy, flip through the self-help book you’re considering. Is the book full of empty platitudes and poetic clichés, or is it based on action-oriented strategies that are designed to work in the real world? Does the author back up her claims with footnotes or references? Is a list of “further reading” resources offered? Try to opt for books that offer more gravity than hot air.
• Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Self-help books are often a great resource to help you along your path towards permanent and meaningful life change, and research has shown that they can be effective tools when used in the right way. But there are some problems that simply require professional help. If you’re dealing with serious depression or anxiety, or you feel that your physical health may be suffering, please don’t hesitate to consult with a trained and licensed professional.
When dealing with self-help style books it is easy to forget the most of the people writing them aren’t that much different than you.
I read books a lot, though not on any particular schedule. I read anywhere between 2 books a week to 2 books a month. I try to focus on what I’m most interested in reading, as well as something I need the most help with. I’ve also recently discovered some popular business books have their synopses on sites like Wikipedia. This news has saved me lots of time.
That is useful information for finding summaries. I like using summaries as a review some time after I’ve read a book. It helps remind me of what I learned.
I read VORACIOUSLY. We have eight magazine subscriptions (The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Economist, Wired, Cook’s Illustrated, Consumer Reports, Bon Appetit, and Discover) and I still manage to knock back about three books a week. Mostly, I follow recommendations and try to mix things up with a variety of stuff to keep it interesting and to force my mind into new angles on familiar topics.
That is a pretty varied list of magazines. I have a similar number of subscriptions, but not quite as wide of range in subject matter.
I read approximately 10-15 books a month, so being picky is not an issue. In my industry (marketing)-you have to keep up with trends. It’s the only way I can constantly give my clients and readers fresh information.
In terms of finding books, I have some favorite authors that I seek out. Other times, I just scan the shelves to see what’s intriguing. = )
Amazon’s “people who liked this also liked” feature can be pretty useful for finding other books as well.
I try to read a book every week or two. Since I read mostly for idea fodder and to kick-start my thinking, I try to read as wide a variety of material as possible. I think the only mistake you can make with reading is to be too narrow.
It is easy to get to focused on one particular area. On the other hand, taking some time (a few months) to really focus on one particular topic can help you learn and explore that area better than reading the same content with other reading in between.
Reading regularly is an excellent practice, one that every expert agrees is a key to success. I have a goal of one book a week, which I’ve not been able to keep up with recently due to some health issues. I’ve discovered I can get the majority of ideas from a book by limiting myself to one hour. This also allows reading a *lot* of books, which is part of my goal of becoming ridiculously valuable to people.
Like any diet, quality and variety are important. My current one is a mix of productivity, self-improvement, and popular non-fiction. Importantly, I suggest a balance between reading as work and reading as pleasure. If you can’t tell, the former involves thinking and taking notes.
I’m still working on getting better at taking notes on reading. I tend to just remember that there was a section in a particular book about a topic and then spend hours trying to locate it later.
I used to be very big into science fiction and political thrillers. However, I find that right now, I’m too brain dead after doing research that I really need something engaging, but without requiring a lot of brainpower. So, my favorite books right now are murder mysteries, especially with a strong female heroine. They tend to be set in present day, so I don’t have to expend any brainpower in understanding the world. Plus, I’m happy to just go along for the ride, so I’m usually surprised at the villain in the end!
Every three or four books, I pick up some scifi. I love the genre, but I do find that it takes me twice as long, or longer, to read, since you really need to digest some of it.
Every now and then I read non-fiction, but it really has to be interesting to hold my attention. I blame that on the fact that I have to do so much “thinking” reading for my research. When I want to read for pleasure, I want to relax and enjoy it.
I’m a big scifi fan as well. I’d recommend Asimov’s short stories if you are looking for a good read, but don’t have enough time or concentration. H.G. Wells short stories are also great.
I do most of my reading during down-time between appointments at work, or on a “Day Off”. Unless, of course, I am doing some research for a post or article or book review. Then I carve out an hour in my morning routine.
I would like to modify this, and set up a regular time for reading every day.
I tend to get most of my reading in when we travel to see family. Fortunately, that is usually about once each quarter so that gives me some time to really dig into reading. As the number of people in my family have gone up, the amount I read has gone down.
Since my blog is a resource for book clubs and readers in general, I read a LOT, all the time! I usually read three or four books simultaneously — contemporary fiction and Pulitzer fiction for the book club kits I sell through my site, some sort of nonfiction, a book on tape in the car, and then pleasure fiction before bed. I try to read whatever is getting a lot of attention — either critically or through word of mouth. I currently read about 30 lit blogs daily, so I have a pretty good sense of what I should be reading and reviewing on my blog.
I usually have 2 or 3 books going at a time, but I question if this is really a good way to read. I try to spread them out in different areas. If I have one technical book, once science book, and a business book going all at the same time, it seems to work pretty well.
I’m always careful to read something just FOR FUN every once in a while. Otherwise, I tend to stop making time for reading, which is really my favorite activity.
It can feel like a waste of time to re-read LITTLE WOMEN or VANITY FAIR for the third time, but in fact, it keeps me reading more.
Gretchen Rubin from The Happiness Project
Good point. If you don’t ever enjoy what you read it is harder to keep making it a priority.
Skim, Scan and Save my RSS feeds. That cuts about 80% of the feed items. If I miss something important, I’ll notice a buzz and go deeper.
For books – if it’s not written or endorsed by a blogger I trust, I don’t buy it.
For magazines – depends on travel. The more I travel, the More I read.
I tend to get more book reading done during travel than magazines. I’m learning how to choose the right reading material for what I’m doing. Scanning a magazine is easier with short periods of time. A technical book may not be worth cracking open unless I have at least 20 minutes of contiguous time available.
My reading habits consist of listening to Audio Books and then buying the written book if needed for reference.
I usually choose the latest business and personal productivity titles from Audible.
I wish there were a way to buy the book once, and have access to the audio or text versions.
My reading habits these days involve:
1) Limit the time I spend reading to a minimum
2) I choose to only read material that will advance the work I’m doing with clients.
3) Scan books for what I need
Scanning is a skill that I’m working on improving. I still prefer to just sit down and read something at my own pace, but there isn’t always time for that.