Monday, August 19, 2013

Buried By Books


How does the saying go?  "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray ... "

I had such good intentions for making August a Readapalooza month, catching up on the stacks of books that have accumulated since the start of the year.  But after starting off strong the first week, here I am on Week Three without another completed themed set of books to report on because work and life kept me from completing them.

I doubt I am alone in struggling to keep up with all the content that is vying for my time and attention.  A couple of thoughts about this fairly new reality, and how I am going to try and manage it moving forward.  Maybe my approach will help you.

  1. A book I've purchased doesn't fight for my attention the same way as blogs posts that I receive via email or links I've bookmarked from Twitter.  Rightly or wrongly, the latter have a sense of urgency to them because they appear daily or more frequently.  That's a false sense of timing though.  I need to establish systems to organize that information as it comes in, but set it aside to read at a designated time.
  2.  Some books are better read in the company of others.  The insights others can share from their perspective, as well as the accountability that being in a reading group can create, are both something I need to actively pursue for a limited number of publications.
  3. In graduate school, study groups were an effective way to have different people take leadership positions for individual classes.  I need to try and assemble the same for work-related reading: a group of people in which each group member agrees to be the primary reader for a specific publication (i.e., Harvard Business Review).  On a monthly basis we connect and share highlights from our reading responsibility.
  4. One word: audiobooks.  I'm finding that I really don't enjoy reading on a Kindle or an iPad when I am at the gym.  Yet my time for cardio is also a good time for catching up on some reading.  Since I don't have a long commute when I can catch up on books, I am going to try audiobooks as a listening option while working out.
  5. Just buy fewer books.  I love books, and I love being exposed to new content, but I tend to buy a book when I first hear of its publication.  I need to resist that impulse because it only compounds my current challenge.  If a book is so good that I need to read it, I have to trust that I'll hear enough buzz from various sources once it has been around for awhile that it will again capture my interest.
So no readapalooza, but I do plan to share takeaways moving forward from the reading I do complete.

What strategies are you using for your own reading and content consumption?  Share them in the comments.

2 comments:

Joy said...

This is a huge problem for me too so my new system is going to Amazon reading the ToC and the first few pages to see if I like the content enough to explore. I save it to shopping cart in later section and if keeps popping up I order it.
I also stopped stressing if I don't get to it and just skim. I think of it as "tipping" the author $20 for even one good morsel without feeling need to finish whole meal :)

Greg Fuson said...

For years I've been accumulating books faster than I can read them, until one day it dawned on me that at this pace I'll eventually die with a huge pile of unread books. (Not a happy thought.) Three things that have helped: 1) I find I'm more likely to prioritize reading a book that I got from the library -- having a due date gives it greater urgency than the books I own, not to mention it's cheaper. 2) Like you, I'm now a lot more selective in which and how many books I'll buy (or borrow), and I'm no longer swayed by Amazon reviews, which are too easily gamed by PR mills. I find feedback from Goodreads to be much more trustworthy. 3) With business books in particular, I've let go of the compunction to read them from cover to cover. Instead I'll read the intro and then bounce around the chapters that seem most interesting and relevant. And if the book's good enough, I'll get through them all.