Balancing Reading and Other Things

Believe it or not, y’all, I like to do things that aren’t reading.

I mean, not often, of course, but, every so often, I do like to get out in the world and do such daring things as:

  • sitting on my other couch and watching television
  • sitting on my other couch and watching movies
  • impromptu dance parties
  • going for a walk
  • seeing friends out in the sunlight (even if it does burn us, precious)

Last year, I pretty much only read books and saw friends/family, because I was trying to get through my book challenge, which I called my challenge to end all challenges, because it’s the most ambitious one I’ve wanted to accomplish. This year, I want to have fun with it. However, I have difficulty figuring out how much time to spend reading and how much on those other noble enterprises, and whatever ones I forgot.

I don’t know about you, but I come up with systems for everything. Those for choosing what to read next and deciding how much to read of one book before moving to another for a bit are most pertinent here. I’ve also always (for the last four or so years) had a reward system for when I get to watch a movie or a tv episode. So, yes, I’m crazy, but I can’t be the only one.

Basically, I’m not in love with my current methods, so I’m looking to innovate. So I’m searching out you internet people who are my brand of crazy and begging for help.

Questions: Do you have anal-retentive ways of deciding what to read or when to shift from book to book if you’re a juggler? If you have a system in place, what is it? Have you found a nice balance between getting a lot of reading done and doing other things?

42 responses to “Balancing Reading and Other Things”

  1. Carol N Wong says:

    Well I guess I do! For each month, I pick out the books for challenges ahead of time. I read the books that authors or Library Thing and Vine first so I can get them out of the way. Then I read the challengs books. With the rest of the month I pick out books that I have in my TRB pile that I am dying to read.

  2. techeditor says:

    Depends on where I got the books.

    If I got a book from the author or goodreads.com or librarything.com, I read that first.

    Otherwise, I ask my husband to pick a book from my big pile of to-read books.

  3. Amelia says:

    I find that audiobooks are my best friends, especially when I need to go out into the world and do Big Girl stuff. Lately, I haven’t been posting my reviews after I read them (but I have been jotting them down in my Read!Binge notebook) because I’ve been reading for *myself* and studying how authors accomplish that or get around that trick plot twist, ect. But definitely audiobooks.

    That, and I like juggling books too. The way I juggle them though, is that when I get to a REALLY COOL part (like for instance, I’m switching between Just One Day and Splintered atm, and right after the heroine in JOD decides to go to Paris, where there is that curiosity to find out what happens, I hopped over to Splintered and read until she went down the rabbit hole). I hop on cliffhangers because I find its infinitely easier to get back into a book in a few days because you’re SO ANXIOUS to get back to it.

    Now to pick books? Since I’m a very poor college graduate at the moment I choose what’s cheap/free for the week on ebook. 😀 That, and if I’m not really itching for the Sarah Dessen lyrical kissing prose, I tend to go for the hardcore opposites, like Beth Revis.

    … That probably makes no sense, but that’s how I do it! Haha…

    • Christina says:

      ha, Audiobooks can be great for reading while also accomplishing things! They’re the only reason I ever get any cleaning done.

      Huh, that’s a very different method on swapping. I don’t know if it would work for me or not! I might try it. Very clever!

      Oh, Sarah Dessen! I love her books. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’m terrible for balancing reading and life. I think I’m a binge reader. I’ll read every moment I can Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then I won’t have any drive in me to read the three other days of the week so I decide to have a life than. Sometimes the days of the week change but that’s what I do. Read like crazy for like 3-4 days and then I won’t read at all for 2-3 days.

  5. I been trying to do it all with blogging and reading. I will read and I do have my books in some order but I try to mix a fun one in. I also help out at my kids school and just enjoy reading the books. I also get up early and work out 🙂

  6. Honestly, i am HORRIBLE at it!! I need to read, catch up on my shows, draw, and go to the gym! its crazy! also, i have to do blog work, and sometimes i just want to give it all up, but noo! hahaha! Honestly, I always set a goal of reading a book in 3 days, and dividing the pages. If a book was 150 pages, id try to finish it in 2 days. But never more than 3. I also try to take an hour to finish all my blog work, and then the rest is for all the rest of the things. But its never this simple.. ugh.
    – Farah @ MajiBookshelf

    • Christina says:

      Right? There are so many things and I don’t want to watch too much tv or read until I’m burned out. So funny that we all have our own ways of organizing our time! You would think it would just be start a book, read until you finish.

  7. Stephanie says:

    I wish I had a better system! I make incredibly long mental lists of books I just HAVE to read next, and by the time I’ve finished my current read the “up next” has usually changed like ten times. I also feel guilty b/c I reread a lot, when there are so many books I haven’
    t read yet…but I tell myself any reading is good. And I listen to audiobooks too, especially for rereads or books I wouldn’t get to otherwise.

  8. I’m horrible at balancing life between reading. Seriously.

    My reading system failed me. I had a goal/idea for what to read in 2013 and I failed it already. It happens I guess.

    I wish I had a suggestion. But I failed my own set idea. How is that to help you?

    • Christina says:

      Oh, yeah, pretty much anytime I say “I’m going to read that non-review book soon” I end up shunting it aside for something else. I apparently lack stick-to-it-iveness.

  9. It’s pretty easy for me to find balance because I really have no life haha! My best friend lives 2 hours away from me, so I don’t really see her often, no matter how much I’m reading. And since my husband works, and I don’t, it’s not hard for me to find time throughout the day for all the things I love – my shows, movies, writing, and books. It’s kind of awesome 😛

  10. Octavia H says:

    I’m still perfecting my balancing act but I think I’m on the right track. I work 5 days a week from 9-6 (what days exactly varies), so my blogging/reading schedule changes depending on which days I have off and what not.
    On Sunday (if I’m working) I don’t have to be in until 11 and I get to leave at 4. So I wake up at 6a.m. and do my blogging and blog stalking before work. When I get off I finish my blogging duties. From here I kind of just wing it. I read throughout the week when I can but I don’t try and kill myself to finish 3 books in a day, I try to enjoy each book I read, and if I don’t like it after 3/4 chapters I put it in my DNF pile. If I think I was just in a poopy mode and it wasn’t the books fault, I think about giving it another shot later.
    As far as picking my next book out I make notebooks on Evernote (anal yes I know) and label them “Auntie Spinelli’s Sequel Challenge”, “ARC’s/Review Copies”, Books I Spent Money on But Never Read”, “Blog Tour Books” and etc. I then number each one of the books on those list and go to random.org put in the number range and hit randomize x4 to see what my first 4 books for the month will be. Only after those 4 do I let myself grab a new release or two. If I get through the 4 and the new release I go back into randomizer to pick another. I only pick 4 at first because I know I can make it through four books each month no problem, but this way it’s not as much pressure and I still get to enjoy it.
    I have a 4 year old who is in pre-school and does karate twice a week, and who I have a weekly movie night with. I clock 40 hours a week at work, and I take a few hours out of the week to visit my granny and my boyfriend’s grandma who live about 45minutes away,( we help them clean and grocery shop and see their great-grand baby). I also manage to do a “girl’s night” once a month with my sister, cousins and best friend where we go out to dinner, or meet at my house and watch cheesy chick flicks. It takes about 15 hours out of my reading time for the month but it works for me.

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I’m at work much of my day as well, and it really cuts back on time for things-doing.

      Man, I might be able to comment before work in the summer months, but I just cannot get out of bed in the winter. Too warm in the bed, and too dark and cold outside of it.

      Oh wow, you have a system that’s different but just as high maintenance as mine! Yay for all of us bookish crazies!

      It’s very important to live your life too. 🙂 Glad your balance is working for you!

  11. I have no system for to-read books. It usually just depends on what I feel like reading at the time. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without feeling like I want to read a YA book, which isn’t good for reviews but hey, better that than forcing myself to get through one. As for balancing everything else with reading… heh, I’ll let you know if I ever manage to get that right.

  12. Brandy says:

    I do have a system that has me reading a galley every third book. And I alternate MG/YA/MG/YA etc. I try to throw a reread and/or adult fiction into the mix at least once a month. I can’t read more than fiction at a time, but I usually have some sort of non-fiction I’m reading as well. (Very slowly.)

    As for the other stuff…my blogging is my stress release outlet. I try to keep it fun and not put demands on myself. I can’t make it my priority. I have a husband, children, and students who all come first so…yes it is a juggling act. My reading time IS my “other”. Sigh. Someday I will actually be able to watch movies and TV again. Hopefully.

    • Christina says:

      Oh man, my system now has me with a review copy every 3/4, but if I ever get caught up enough, I’ll switch to 2/4.

      I read a couple of non-fiction books a year, and that is enough.

      Good point about keeping blogging stress-free, though I do not think I manage that with aplomb.

  13. Renae says:

    Hmm. I don’t get many review copies (I’ve never requested one), so I don’t have to juggle a lot of schedules or get reviews out by a certain date. For the most part I read whatever the heck I want, with a few caveats. I keep my “to-read” shelf on Goodreads very small—under 80 titles. Those 80 titles are all books I have instant access to or can acquire from the library within a week’s time. From that “to-read” shelf, I keep a constant list of 5-10 titles on an “up-next” shelf so that my reading can be structured and I don’t have to sit helplessly for a day and half wondering what to read next. I almost never read more than one book at a time, and if I do it’s usually because I’m reading something for a lit class. And if I’m not interested in whatever books I have on my “up-next” shelf, I’m okay with choosing something else. The lack of review copies definitely gives me a great deal of freedom in that area.

    As far as rewards, I don’t have many, honestly. I’m a very goal-oriented person. When reading a book, my goal is always to finish. I have a special bookmark my aunt sewed/embroidered for me, and when I start reading, I usually put it 100 pages ahead of my current spot. When I’ve read 100 pages, my reward is putting my updated progress on Goodreads. And when I finish a book, my reward is adding my page-count to my current monthly tally that I keep updated in the A Million Pages Per Lifetime GR group.

    And yes, now I sound like a complete reading nerd. Whatever. Watching those progress bars fill up is one of the most fulfilling things in my life, not gonna lie.

    (And you and Bekka are obviously twins separated at birth with your synchronized topic choosing.)

    • Christina says:

      Ah, it’s awesome getting review copies, but they definitely amp up the stress like no one’s business, both because it’s awkward if you don’t like them and because of timing.

      Oh wow, my GR to-read shelf has thousands of books on it, which is why I can’t just choose. O_O That’s part of why I made Sadie Hawkins’ Sunday, so that my friends can tell me which are most important to read.

      Updating my Goodreads status is a great reward. I might start doing that too. Huh, I’ve never tracked page count, because of how much they vary in meaning, but that group sounds interesting!

      I love watching the progress bar on GR fill up.

      So weird, right? We both even scheduled them beforehand without talking about it. Odd!

  14. Yeah, I’m not so good at this. I hope you’ll make a post and share what you learned 😉

  15. Kelly says:

    When I need to pump out some reviews, I read based on the book’s length – the shorter the better!

    When I’ve been a good reader and have some posts scheduled, I read what I really want (right now, I’m dying to get my hands on Through the Ever Night!).

    I don’t DNF books. They haunt my conscience, and if I’ve come this far, what’s a few more pages? This is also the reason I’m trying to accept less review copies, in the hopes I pick up more books that I actually like to read.

    I don’t know that my comment was helpful at all….

    • Christina says:

      I do that too. Cheating is valid in this instance! It’s just smart-thinking.

      That reminds me that I was saving Days of Blood and Starlight for when I finished my book challenge and I have. Other things have now preempted it in the queue. I need to get there!

      That’s why I have so much trouble with it, but I think it would be a good thing for me to learn to do. I’m trying to be more careful about review copies as well. I like to research them a bit first and look at what the reviews are saying.

  16. Bookworm1858 says:

    I use iCal to keep track of when I plan to review books and I’ve gotten better at juggling my reviewing/blogging time with real life. Lately though I’ve been struggling to stick to my reading schedule. I’ve only read 8 books so far and I wish I was at 10-the weekends are my big reading time so I will be working on that. Love the gifs!

  17. I suck at this, Christina. I live my life at my computer. If I’m not editing, I am blogging. If I’m not blogging, I am reading. If I’m not reading, I am on Twitter. If I’m not on Twitter, I am playing Warcraft. So…yeah. I’m not huge on going out though. SO when I do, I usually just plan it a few days ahead of time if I can, finish everything I need to finish, and go.

  18. Heather says:

    I tend to read whatever strikes my fancy at the time. When I’m reading something, I usually have the next book I want to read in the back of my mind. If I don’t, I just scan my bookshelves until something jumps out at me. Sometimes it’s an easy decision, because it’s an almost due library book or it’s one of your books that I’ve had for way too long and need to read before I leave ATL ::coughTheAgeofDesirecough:: haha!

    I’m trying to do better regarding the volume of books I read at once because, as you know, sometimes I end up reading 10 books at a time. Typically, I’m reading a classic on my kindle (because classics are so heavy to carry!) and any genre of paperback/hardcover books. Usually I only pick up a second paperback if the first isn’t holding my attention, and it’s very rare that I DNF, because I feel like if I put in any effort whatsoever to read something, I should finish what I start. This is definitely not a good strategy at all, because if I could let go of a book that isn’t grabbing my attention, I could move on to a book that I’ll really like!

    As far as juggling other things goes, like a previous commenter said, I have a tendency to binge read. Sometimes I won’t read all that much during the work week because I’m exhausted, but on the weekend, I might read 4 or 5 books and not emerge from my cave of solitude (aka my apartment) for the duration. There are also times when I’m working on a writing project and won’t read for awhile because I’m really involved in what I’m doing, so I guess it just depends on my mood. This is actually how I am with blogging, too, where I binge blog for a few weeks and then don’t post anything for months and months, but you know this 🙂

    In conclusion, I don’t think I’ve answered any of your questions, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this novel. haha

    • Christina says:

      You’re so good at choosing what to read, though not necessarily as good at sticking it to it. :-p Thus the 80 books at once.

      DNFing is tough for me too, but I’m hoping I’ll get better about it.

      Oh, you do binge blog. I’m hoping you’ll be able to stick with it at your new job, where you will hopefully be less stressed and they might even encourage you to blog while working circ (since sometimes you’re just standing there).

    • Heather says:

      haha exactly! I’d probably finish way more books in a year if I could just stick to one or two at a time. That should probably be my goal for this year.

      Oh, I forgot to tell you guys! Like my previous job, this new job actually has a separate circ staff, so I’ll only be on the reference desk a few hours a day (which I enjoy quite thoroughly.) So excited (and I have a feeling I probably will be able to get caught up, but this time, I will schedule posts now that I know that’s a thing. haha) 😀

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, for a while I was reading 8 books at a time, and I never got anything done. Haha. BAD PLAN. I scaled back to 2 physical books, 1 egalley, and 1 audiobook at a time. Totally normal and manageable, right?

  19. Lilian says:

    I have no system. No schedules. I have enough deadlines for school, I don’t need to impose any more deadlines on myself!

    I also don’t know how to balance reading with life. Usually my “plan” goes like this “do homework until you think you are not panicking”…then read…until you get the nagging feeling that if you don’t go back to homework you will look like a fool, then do homework. Rinse and repeat.

    As for what book to read next: review books always come first. then library books. then books I own. BUT the library stack is magical, where if I read one, two more appear…so I never get to the books I own.

    I am “kinda” a juggler, but I try to stick to one book at a time as much as possible though. Because if I put down a book for more than a week, I forget EVERYTHING.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    • Christina says:

      Hahaha, oh homework. That’s when I first developed my OCD multiple book reading habits. For each chapter of boring text book, you get a chapter of awesome fun book. Hurrah! Art would be different. Essays too. Usually, I gave myself a chapter after a paragraph or a page of writing, though those are usually one and the same for me. I write lengthy paragraphs. As everyone can tell.

      I have struggled in the past with that magical library pile. It’s sort of like Mary Poppins’ bag.

      I don’t know if I CAN not be a juggler now. I’ve gotten too used to it. Oh man, I also forget everything if I wait more than a couple of weeks.

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