Tag Archives: Overdrive

Using a Readathon to Kill My TBR

I have been on a book searching tear, readers!  As of late, I have gone out to some of my favorite used bookstores just to poke around and see what they may have in stock.  Meanwhile, my pile of books at home just grows and grows.  Usually, I don’t mind that because I take a perverse pleasure in the torment of having so many books that it will take me a short lifetime to get through them all.  And I am inherently cheap, so I almost never pay full price for them, therefore I don’t feel guilty for spending and not reading immediately.

I don’t understand someone who will just grab whatever’s within arm’s reach to read.  I treat the moment I chose my next read like a ceremonial experience- I pace the apartment, perusing all physical books I have in the various places and bookshelves.  Maybe I will look through my digital collections on my Kindle, Kobo, and Nook.  I may go to the three online library branches I have access to via Overdrive and see what’s available immediately for download.  I have been known to walk over to the local library to see what they have on hand.  I also see what’s available in audio format from the libraries and in my Audible account that I haven’t yet heard.  As you can see- it’s a damn production.

But now my ever expanding TBR is even starting to worry me.  So you can only image how bad it must be!  I need to bust up this trend and start to knock out some books so I can purge and start all over again.  (Especially with Independent Bookstore Day occurring on my birthday this year.  Coincidence? I think not!)

While I was scanning through Twitter, I saw the announcement of the next Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon this Saturday, April 23rd and I thought- YES!  Sign me up!  It’s the answer to my prayers.  I remember watching all the hullabaloo that accompanied the last session they held, and it looked like a lot of fun for readers. So I just signed up, and it sparked this post.  Win-win!

Now comes the joy of preparing for the readathon.  I have a lot of recent acquisitions that I am excited to dive into but am not sure if it’s the right material for this type of exercise.  I think that you want some short, fast and engaging reads to kick out and feel like you are making progress.  I recently was awarded a bonus from work which comes in the form of Amazon gift cards.  With that award, I purchased the Penguin Little Black Classics Set.  These are slim enough to feel like you are making traction in your limited time. So those will be peppered through the event.

The set of Penguin publisher's Little Black Classic books.
The set of Penguin publisher’s Little Black Classic books.

In thinking through what else to pick, I have arrived at a decision matrix:

  • preferably under 300 pages
  • fast paced read
  • guaranteed delighter
  • nothing that will require me to stop and contemplate it’s meaning
  • something I have been looking forward to
  • also, something that I will drop in a heartbeat if it isn’t working for me or I can’t glide through it with ease

And without further adieu, here is my list of potential reads for the Dewey 24 Hour Readathon!

The list of books that I am going to draw from in the 24 hour Dewey's Readathon.
The list of books that I am going to draw from in the 24 hour Dewey’s Readathon.

I am not going to list them all here, because I certainly won’t get to them all.  But I will post an update when I have completed the event, and we will see how far I got!

Let’s meet back here on Sunday, April 24th, shall we?

About Our Recommendations and Community

When I first started, I linked all books I referenced to Amazon, since it’s convenient and would allow someone ease to purchase the books I was discussing. But as I thought more about this decision, it felt like an endorsement and I want to remain company and format agnostic for now.

I have written about my approach to reading, which is all over the place- I use a Kindle, a Kobo, a Nook.  I was on Oyster and Scribd. I buy used books from local Friends of the Library stores and some of the amazing bookstores in my area.  I buy the latest hardcover from the local independent bookstores that I love to visit.  I am a library power user- I have 3 library cards because the state I live in allows me to be a member of any library in the state so long as I can prove residency on a regular basis.  And most of the work that I borrow is in digital or audio book format. But I also hunt for Kindle sales through a number of sites and on Twitter.  I get a thrill by paying $1.99 for an ebook that I am excited about and letting it sit in my digital collection until I am ready to get to it.

So I have decided that instead of linking to Amazon directly, I will in the near future link to Goodreads. (And while I know that Amazon owns Goodreads, it does off the opportunity for people to evaluate the prices that the book is being sold from some of the various companies- Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Audible, Book Depository, etc.) The reason I think this is the right thing for me to do, is that I am hoping that readers of the blog will start Goodread lists based on the discussions, and how (or if ) they purchase the book is beside the point.  I want to keep this going as long as I can, but I also know that there may be costs down the road, if the blog grows in followers and size, and that may mean that I revisit this but for right now, the biggest goal is to connect with other to build a community of readers.

Link up with us on Goodreads and let’s see each other’s book lists!

Just out of curiosity- where do most of you get your books from?

My Reading Philosophy- Always Be Reading (A.B.R.)

While I have always been an avid reader, I always read one book at a time, and I finished every single one.  Even when I was struggling with either the content or the tone, or hating the characters or the writing, I held on.  I wanted to be able to identify what I liked and also what I didn’t like, and I felt an obligation to the author (a little co-dependent, I know!) to see their work through.  I also think I was hoping that there would be a twist or a “magic moment” where it would come together for me.  As you can probably imagine, it rarely happened like that.  It was only when I let this simple axiom go, that I was able to read at a pace that was remarkable, even to me.  Now I will “drop it like it’s hot” if anything isn’t working for me.  I’m ruthless.  There is too much out there to focus my time on.

Building my library

While I read quickly, I wanted to be able to take in more content, and especially using the downtime in my day more efficiently.  The first step for me was the purchase of an eReader about 5 years ago.  I chose a Nook, from Barnes & Noble, when I read that it had apps that would integrate with the public library system. I come from a family of public library readers.  Some of my best early memories in childhood was being driven to the biggest and most modern library in our county and spending the afternoon in the stacks, marveling at all the stories we could take home. I have never lost that feeling of profound gratitude for the library system.

Before owning an eReader, I would frequent the semi-annual Friends of the Library sale that my town held and build my To Be Read pile for the year.  An old store was rented and converted into a massive book sale, and it was practically a holiday for me.  I would take the day off, get there early with my rolling cart and cash money in hand, lining up with the elderly, just chomping at the bit for the doors to be opened by the lovely volunteers.  I had a system which included a list of books I was searching for, and a method of navigating the endless tables of books laid out haphazardly.  (Hint- start in the furthest table back where the hardcovers start and move toward the door, quickly scanning and pulling, then do a second perusal for items that may not even be on your list.)

After owning the nook, I fell in love with the ability to have multiple books at my fingertips- a traveling library, as it were.  Then I fell quickly down the technology rabbit hole.  An upgraded iPhone, a Kindle paired with the Overdrive site and mobile app meant that I could truly borrow and download library books from my local libraries, something that I wasn’t able to configure well on the nook version I had.  And I didn’t have to carry a big or heavy book with me all the time.  Suddenly, I had amassed a strong library of both digital and physical books, just waiting for me to pick them up.

The evolutionary leap in my reading

So at this point I had a lot of tools, and access to many books, but my reading philosophy hadn’t changed.  The real shift happened when I was listening to a podcast and the host was extolling the virtues and benefits of listening to audiobooks as supplemental to reading books.  While this wasn’t a novel idea, something he mentioned clicked with me.  He talked about how he was always wary of mixing up the stories, but realized one day that he followed many TV series and never confused them, so why did he think he would confuse books if he read more than one at a time? (!!!) Eureka!

So I started to adapt by adding an audiobook to the rotation, with a novel.  At first I chose non-fiction audiobooks, in an effort to have a true differentiation between the books I read and books I listened to.  But I found that they required a larger amount of attention than I was always able to give.  Whereas a longer novel was something I could really enjoy, as long as there weren’t a large number of characters that were hard to differentiate in the narration.

Success with that experiment led me to push the boundaries a bit more- I decided to have a digital book going, an audiobook going AND a physical book.  And this is where I have had the biggest breakthrough.  I am now able to use little gaps in my schedule to A.B.R.- Always Be Reading!  Stuck in the waiting room at the doctor’s office- pop in the earbuds for the audiobook or open an app on my phone.  Standing in line at the bank- open the Kindle app and jump back in where you left off.  No one to lunch with at work- not a problem anymore since I always have access to a good story.  And I love using the Goodreads feature of tracking your progress on what you are currently reading.  Because I have the Goodreads app on my phone, when I do shop for physical books, I have my TBR pile at my fingertips at all times.

And the stats show just how successful this method has proven to be.  Another interesting aspect of this experiment is that I have less patience for books that I am not connecting with anymore.  I am not afraid to move it to the Did Not Finish shelf on Goodreads and move on.  Time is too precious to waste, and there are too many good books out there.

So tell me- have you changed your approach to reading and had success?  Or how do you like to read?  Any interesting failures in your reading plans?  Let me know your thoughts below in the comments.