posted at Friday, January 31st, 2014 at 4:08 PM | Discussion Posts
Something book bloggers tell me a lot is that they’re envious of how organized I am with my book blogging. I read by publication date, churn through review copies, and write up reviews as soon as I finish the book. On the surface, this is just a matter of will power and overpowering any moodiness with regards to what to read next.
However, if you actually delve deeply into the many systems that power my reading, then you’ll see that I live in either organized chaos or chaotic organization. I’m kind of a mess, but a very well-scheduled one. See, the thing is that I want to have time for backlist reads and not just review books. Also, review books aren’t as straightforward as they may at first appear, since sometimes books show up on or past the publication date, which completely throws off my ARC schedule.
Back in the day, I would stick any books past pub date in front of the ARC queue, and I was perpetually reading everything just past the publication date. Now, though, I have a new, more complex system, that alleviates this problem and is actually letting me get ahead on my review books, and thus letting me do more free reading.
At any given time now, I am reading two print books, one or two manga, and an audiobook. Sometimes I pick something else along the way (usually an ebook I think I have time to sneak but don’t, which sits on my currently reading list for a month), but it’s usually just those. Today, I’m just focusing on the print books, not the manga or audiobooks, because explaining those will involve getting even further into the absurdity. Now, to my reading system!
Primary Read versus Secondary Read:
Why am I reading two print books at once? There are two reasons for this.
- I can make progress on two books from two different piles, which I’ll explain further soon.
- If one of them is boring, hopefully the other one will be good and keep me reading. I developed the two book system back in college as a way to get my school reading done and kept it for my pleasure reading. That’s the only way I finished Jude the Obscurely Awful Book.
For now, my primary book ALWAYS comes from my ARC pile. This pile is most out of control, and also where the bulk of books for which I owe reviews to someone reside, so I need to move at a good pace. I generally finish a primary book within 3 days, but it’s usually much less.
Every twenty-five pages of my primary book, I read a chapter of my secondary book. As a result, the rate at which I get through secondary books varies depending on chapter length. Book without chapters? Well, first, I hate this because why, but I also have to read it in one setting. There is a caveat here that chapters that aren’t at least three pages long do not count, so I read until I find a long enough chapter to count, because books with really short chapters can end up being interminable in this system.
If I ever get far enough ahead in my reading schedule, probably to about a month ahead from the current date, then I will start switching the primary read between piles, depending on either which is closer to being finished or which I’m more in the mood to read.
The ARC Pile
Now, I call this one the ARC pile, but it’s actually more the “future books” pile. These are books where the review is not yet “due.” The bulk of these are ARCs, but there are some finished copies for blog tours.
I keep track of my ARC and blog tour posts using Google Calendar. Above is the month of February. You’ll notice that I keep track of more than just my book reviews, but that’s all I’m talking about today. The titles in dark blue are blog tours or books where I’ve reached an agreement with the publisher to post at a certain time. The peach ones on the right are Sadie Hawkins books, which count in this pile as well, since they are due by a particular date.
The light blue ones are ARCs. They are left on their publication date until I begin reading books for that day. Something Real is an exception, because MacKids is being nice enough to send this to me right now, so I don’t actually have it yet. I just put it there as a reminder to myself. Depending on when it arrives, it will either end up in the ARC pile or the next one I’ll talk about. I read through the ARCs by pub date. Currently, I’m reading books releasing March 4, so I moved those up to the scheduling section (Half Bad and Death Sworn).
In choosing between books that all release the same day, I prioritize print review copies. Solicited print review copies take priority over unsolicited. Egalleys come last, and, if I miss them, I refuse to feel bad about that. Actually, I’m trying not to feel bad in general, since I’ll still read hundreds probably this year. If I have multiple at the same priority, I’ll choose if I have a preference or I’ll ask Twitter, which is almost always helpful.
You’ll notice one other light blue book, The Tyrant’s Daughter. That is my current audiobook read. Should I finish Half Bad first, it would swap to the post date of the 14th, and Tyrant’s would move down. Basically, as I finish, they get scheduled and in the order I finish them, so that I keep moving the schedule ahead. I just finished Panic, at which point it turned from light blue to purple. Next up is Grasshopper Jungle followed by The Good Luck of Right Now. If I’ve finished The Tyrant’s Daughter by the time I finish the latter, I’ll start Poison. If not, I’ll start Half Bad. Confused yet?
Here is my schedule for March. Here you can see where I’ve cleared out the ARCs for the first week of March, but you can see all the ones that remain. If I get to where an ARCs posting date would be more than a month in advance of the publication date , I would schedule it for exactly one month prior (for example, The Winner’s Curse is set for February 4th; I read it in June), and use my backlist reviews. Any review that is not owed to someone (for free reads, manga, or YABC books which weren’t owed on my blog), I schedule them for the distant future and have them ready to grab if I can’t get a review copy post up for one reason or another. I currently have about 45 of those. First up in the queue of backlogged reviews is The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller, which I finished September 8th.
We’re almost done with this pile! However, I also have free reads built into each pile. SO. As long as I have my reviews scheduled at least a week in advance, I get a free read every fourth book from this pile. Eventually, I hope to straight up alternate, but I want to get to the point where I’m using backlogged reviews because it’s too early to post the ARC reviews before that happens. For now, I need the forward momentum of reading predominantly ARCs.
The Past Publication Date Piles
That’s right! PILES. There are two main piles under here and they have sub-piles. So yeah. Things barely even got complicated yet. There’s a lot of complication for that coveted secondary book spot. I alternate between the YABC and the Solicited/Unsolicited piles, so that I’m getting through both, albeit fairly slowly and confusingly.
I’m honored to be an editor for the book site, YA Books Central. Editor is just a fancy way of saying reviewer. Anyway, I get a good chunk of review copies from them, which is cool because I have access to more things. For a while I had a huge backlog of finished copies that I got pretty far past their pub dates, but this system has cleaned those out. I’m currently reading The True Adventures of Nicolo Zen, and I have just three more of these to read.
When I run out of YABC books, I choose a free read. I’ll explain the logic (is this logic, really?) of those at the end.
Alright, these are those books that arrive right at publication date generally in finished copy format. While I think it’s smart of publishers to send finished copies, since they are cheaper for them and nicer for us, with not having to worry about changes, they ARE hard to schedule. I often have no idea the book is coming until it shows up, especially if it’s unsolicited, but often even if it was. For example, Tor generally send me what I request, but they often don’t let me know the book is actually coming; it just shows up one day. It’s fine, but I can’t plan for it and get to it as quickly as I do ARCs. This is just a fact.
This one has its own hierarchy. Any finished copies from publishers/authors come first. They are put in order of arrival. Currently, I have these totally cleared out. I got Lost Lake last week and read it immediately. However, the unsolicited ones take forever to get through. I just don’t feel as compelled to rush, since I didn’t actually say I would read this thing. I’m willing to try, but I’m not going to stress about it. They’re in roughly the order that they arrived, though I wasn’t keeping track of them back in September or so, when the top book in this pile is from, so I’m not sure. When I’m out of solicited books, I actually alternate between these and a free read, because I’m generally not that excited about the ones I put in this pile and don’t want to make myself sad by putting them too close together. If they are awesome, bonus!
This part is less down to a science (again, is this really?) because I’ve only recently gotten to free reading, but, for now, there are basically three main categories of free reads, and I’ll apply one to each pile.
- Books I Own: Obviously, I should be reading the books I own. Theoretically, every book I own is either unread or something I want to reread, so I have 1400 books that I want to read RIGHT THERE. I’ll either choose them by randomizing my catalog or by taking a picture of a shelf and making Twitter choose.
- Goodreads To-Read: Though I own a schload of books, I actually do NOT come close to owning all the books I’m interested in. I also don’t want to have to buy them all to get to read them, so I want to be sifting through this list too. When choosing these, I use random.org to choose a page of my to-read shelf and select one of those 25, sometimes with Twitter’s help.
- Series I’ve Started: Inspired by Renae (Respiring Thoughts), I made a spreadsheet of all the series I’ve started and divided them up by whether they’re complete, ongoing, and whether I want to finish and need to catch up. There are a LOT of series I’ve started, wanted to finish, and not finished and I want to fix this. I’ll be making a constituted effort to make progress on this.
The books I own will probably be tied to the ARC pile, since I’m getting to do the most free reading there. The other two I’m not too sure about, since I’ve not cleared either pile yet, but I think I’ll put series books with YABC and the random books from my to-read shelf with the unsolicited books.
I told you so. Look at that monster of messiness! Look at how out of my way I will go to not have to ever make choices! But, actually, all of this is working out pretty well for me. I implemented this particular strategy of organization about a month ago, and I’m already further ahead in scheduled reviews than I’ve ever been on my blog, and more on top of YABC reviews than I’ve been since pretty early on.
In no way do I think this will work for everyone or even most people. Actually, given my history of shifting my strategies, it probably won’t even work for the Christina of six months from now, who will probably write another post like this. I guess the message is to embrace your own ridiculousness and do what you need to do to enjoy your reading but also feel comfortable with where your blog is. If, like me, you want everything all scheduled and orderly, it might take some finagling. If you can mood read and post whenever, more power to you; I’m honestly rather jealous of that attitude, but I just can’t. Just be you and own it.
Are you intimidated? Judging me? Feeling better about your own reading practices?