Reading as a To-Do

readingHot on the heels of my January Reading Goals update comes this Book Riot post about this very topic. Rebecca Joines Schinsky exhorts readers to “throw away the lists” because there are no ‘shoulds’ in reading. A person should feel free to read what they want, when they want, without being ‘beholden’ to a list that someone—or they themselves—has written.

It’s a fair point, I guess. Some people do indeed enjoy reading more when it’s a casual thing. My stepfather, for example, has never planned reading, per se, in his life. Whenever he feels like reading, he simply looks around the house for one that’s lying around and reads it. My mother brings in enough borrows from her friends that there is always something lying around. That’s not how I chose MY books—if I had to rely on what the Beloved brought into the house, I would read nothing but sports biographies and baseball magazines. But it works for him.

For myself, I feel like I have done the mindless, casual reading for too long already, and now I am searching for a little more. I want to learn something when I read. I want to have a big, dramatic project where I read a lot of books about something interesting and come away a bit of an expert on something. I want to read books which will teach and enlighten me. And so, I do need to put a list together and be a little more organized.

That doesn’t mean I am not free to bail on a book which doesn’t interest me. Life is too short to read bad books, and I can and will throw one away that isn’t doing it for me. But just as there is nothing wrong with winging it, there is nothing wrong with NOT winging it too. I enjoy my Goodreads experience. I enjoy having a book list in Google Docs so that I can dip into Dropbox and load something onto my iPad when I’m ready for the next one. To each their own—with this, as with anything!

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