Do You Have a Reading Plan?


Do you stumble across the books you read, or do you have a reading plan? I have never embarked upon a systematic reading plan, other than required reading lists for courses I was taking.

Among people I know – and the library patrons I meet every day at work – reading plans can be either lofty or low-brow. For example:

  • Read the classics
  • Read everything by Danielle Steel
  • Read everything that’s similar to 50 Shades of Grey
  • Read an “intimidating” book like War and Peace
  • Read some good new business books
  • Read a biography of Winston Churchill
  • Read the rest of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books

I read a lot, but even though I’m a librarian, I’ve never deliberately set out to become well-read. My reading history is highly irregular – as I think it should be! But I spent enough time in school (18 years, cough, cough!) to have read or been assigned a wide sweep of literature.

The Outsiders

As a bookish kid, I read most of the children’s classics, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Peter Pan. I also read endless series books, comics and MAD magazine. I graduated to teen pop star magazines, novels about teen issues, and Young Adult Literature like The Outsiders and The Pigman (anyone remember those?) I cross-pollinated with sleazy adult bestsellers, and for relief, Agatha Christie. In university I studied Theatre, English, and Russian Literature with all of its associated reading (go, Pushkin!)

My first librarian job was as a children’s librarian, so I read all the new kids’ books and award-winners for many years. After that I read mostly adult novels until my kid was born. I went through a long phase of reading mostly magazines, home decor books, cookbooks and parenting books! Once I was able to sit down and enjoy books again, my tastes had permanently changed, and I now read about 50/50 adult fiction and nonfiction, with a few YA novels thrown in.


As for my own reading plan, I do have a mental list of books I would like to read, mostly classics or significant books I missed. For instance, I have never read a book by Charles Dickens. My parents had a copy of David Copperfield in the house, and I always thought I would read it when I was old enough, but it remains on my to-read list. I have always wanted to read Neuromancer by William Gibson, the first cyberpunk novel. And I really must read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man!

In my goals for 2013, I noted that I wanted to catch up on all of the graphic novels I missed last year. All of my holds from the library are arriving so I will be cocooning with them this weekend!


Here is an example of why my reading plans go awry. I chose 3 novels from my library last week, all “international fiction:”

  • 419 – Will Ferguson
  • What the Day Owes the Night – Yasmina Khadra
  • Saraswati Park – Anjali Joseph

Plastic Free

I think they all look fantastic. But I have been busy reading Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and You Can Too, by Beth Terry, so everything else is being neglected.

Big Kahn

In the meanwhile, my first 4 graphic novels have come in:

  • Baby’s in Black – Arne Bellsdorf
  • The Big Kahn – Neil Kleid / Nicolas Cinquegrani
  • A Wrinkle in Time – adapted by Hope Larson
  • Goliath – Tom Gauld


I would have sent back all of my wonderful novels and dug into the graphic novels instead, but three more books arrived that I had been awaiting for weeks:

  • Dearie: the Remarkable Life of Julia Child –Bob Spitz
  • Mrs. Queen Takes the Train – William Kuhn
  • Telegraph Avenue – Michael Chabon

Oh, the delicious dilemma of what to read!

I just took a break to suspend the rest of the books I have on hold from the library so no more will come in this month! The good part is, of course, that the library owns all the books I listed above, so I can always return them and read them later. But of course I will have discovered a hundred more books by the time they come my way again!

I could always start over and stick to a rigorous reading plan. But realistically, that’s not going to happen. As I mentioned earlier, my idea of a reading plan is to sneak in a Significant Title now and then.

So many books, so little time.

How do you do it?

Related Post: What Kind of Reader Are You?

A few recommended reading lists:

The Top 100 Books of All Time – The Guardian

Top 10 Canadian Books of the Decade – McLean’s

20 Memoirs and Biographies that Show the Creative Mind at Work – Gimundo

100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know – New York Public Library

100 Best-Ever Teen Novels – NPR

Top 10 Graphic Novels – Time


  1. I don’t have an actual reading plan. I had to the library and wander to see what’s available. I will check classics, and always look for a new Stephen King when it comes out. I do keep a list of books that sound like something I would enjoy and check for them when I go, but I’m not crazy about it,meaning I don’t rush up to order all the books on my list. I may try to order one or two at a time if I really want to read it. During the winter months it’s harder for me to get to the library so I keep a handful of books around that people have passed on to me to fill the gaps. The only important thing is that I must have a book handy as I can never stand to be without reading material.

  2. I fear I’m not much of a reader. It’s funny… I actually like reading, it just gives me a great deal of anxiety. I think it’s all leftover stuff from school. I tend toward dyslexia, and reading is only fun for me if I go slowly and basically say the words to myself in my head. I’ve been told over, and over, and OVER that this isn’t how you’re “supposed” to read – that somehow you’re supposed to be able to look at the words and glean the meaning without ever hearing them in your head, and you’re supposed to read fast – but I’m just not wired that way. I also have trouble tracking the lines of text, especially if the paragraphs are long… I’ll skip lines or accidentally read the same line twice, and when words wrap around the end of a line I’m totally screwed – I have to sound it out like a first grader! College was torture – I had to lock myself in a closet and basically walk in circles reading out loud to myself just to try to force the information into my little brain.

    But lately I’ve been reading more because Sputnik’s been sick, and I’ve found myself needing/wanting to be off in odd corners of the house to keep an eye on him – I’ve set up little “Sputty stations” around the house where I won’t have to disturb him if he falls asleep in my lap – and each one has a blanket and a book. So I’ve read more in the past few weeks than in the past few years, and I’m actually starting to enjoy it. I just have to get past my initial panic when I see all of those words staring me in the face, go at my own pace, and realize that nobody is grading my performance! So that’s as far as my reading plan goes for the moment!

    • I’m sorry that your situation forced you into it, but having a “no-stress” approach is the way to go! Now that you’re not having to read textbooks, do you like audio books? My spouse is not wired for print so much, but will set his Kindle to read e-books to him.

      • I’ve listened to a few… I suppose that might be an alternative. I don’t have a e-book reader or anything like that. But actually, what I do have is CatMan who LOVES to read out loud to me. We do it every day in fact! Mostly we read in Spanish, because learning the language is one of our hobbies – he reads and I look up the words we don’t know. But we’ve also read a handful of books in English – it’s great fun.

      • Cool! Rom is reading me a science book. It actually builds my patience because I read so much faster than I can speak; by listening to someone else read, I have to slow down my brain!

  3. I have you to help compile a reading list (and too). Also, when my uncle’s store sends out their Christmas brochure, I take down any that seem of interest. Like you, mine almost ALL come from the library. It annoys me that their ‘request a book’ page has a glitch (actually there’s all sorts of strange behaving things on their site), so I just emailed them about that plastic free book… But I like to have something to read and a list helps me not get frustrated when I need a book, and I can’t just ‘find’ something ‘wandering’ around. I find book blurbs all start to sound VERY similar!

    • My library has just started sending out reading suggestion email newsletters called NextReads; I bet they will be popular. I’m glad you are contacting the library about the glitch on their website!

  4. I am a definite stumbler when it comes to books – just lock me in the Library and I would be happy stumbling all night. I have a very enquiring mind so tend to go for books that might make my life better of even change it which two books definitely have (I can feel a post coming on for that topic!) – so I find myself getting cookery, gardening, painting, craft, computer and accounting books as well as psychology type and a few novels here and there. I am not a sci-fi or a crime reader but love tales of gentle village folk like my well read ‘The Apple Tree’ Saga by Mary Pearce and of course the Miss Read books, Jane Austen also fits in here nicely. At the moment I am reading No Holly for Miss Quinn by Miss Read – meant to read it at Christmas but found myself reading my Clean Home Green Home instead!

  5. My reading plan always seems to be “get caught up on reading the books you’ve already bought!” 🙂 I always think I’m going to read more than I actually do.

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