Do you keep a reading list?

I download Kindle books nearly every day. Some for research, some for fun, and some on subjects I later ask myself, “What were you thinking?”

What can I tell you, I like books.

Most of these books were free but I also buy a fair number. Right now, there are 4663 books in my account, and that doesn’t include the ones I’ve read and deleted.

Is that a library in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

Sometimes I go to read a book only to discover I’ve already read it. Many of these are books that offered no value and I tell myself I need to delete them. But that requires logging into my account and finding the book through the search mechanism and doing that one at a time is not a good use of my time.

So, I’ve started keeping a text file on my desktop: “Kindle books to delete”. When the list has five or ten titles on it, I log in and do the deed. I hope that one day Amazon gives us another way to delete a book (not just remove it from the device we’re using to read it). Until then, my system will have to do.

Now, what about books we’d like to read? A reading list of books we’ve heard good things about but haven’t had time to buy or look into?

For that, Amazon gives us an easy solution: wish lists. We can use them to identify products we’re interested in, including books. I use a wish list as my reading list.

But that’s too simple for many people. This morning I saw an article about the many ways people keep their reading lists. Some use a text file, some use a spreadsheet, and some use apps like Trello or Evernote. And there are many other options.

The article describes how some people organize their lists, update them, and add notes and other meta data. Too complicated, if you ask me. How much time do these folks spend organizing their lists?

I feel the same way about to-do lists.

Some people spend more time making and organizing lists than they do getting things done (or read).

When I hear about a book I want to read, I either buy it or put it on my Amazon wishlist to consider at a later time.

As Sgt. Rick Hunter (Fred Dryer) on the 80’s detective show “Hunter” used to say, “Works for me”.

How I use Evernote to organize my work

The need to read (books)

If you are a book lover like I am, you know there’s never enough time to read everything. In, “How to read a lot of books,” college student and fellow book lover Dan Shipper shares how he read lots of books.

First, he keeps track of everything he wants to read in Evernote. He always has his list with him so he can pick up books on his “want” list any time he’s in a book store. Of course I keep lists in Evernote, too, but I buy mostly ebooks, now.

Next, he prioritizes his master list (using Trello) so he knows what to read next. I’m more of a shoot from the hip kinda guy, so unless I’m working on a project that calls for me to read a certain book, I just pick something I feel drawn to and read that. If I did prioritize my list, however, I would use Evernote tags instead of another application.

As for actually reading the books, Shipper follows this rule: “I never read more than one book at a time, and I always finish every book I start.” Here, I disagree.

I often read several books “simultaneously”. No, not literally. I start one book, then switch to another before finishing the first. I may go back to the first or go on to another. Why? I like the variety, I guess. When I get tired of hearing one author’s voice, I like to tune into someone else’s.

As for finishing every book, I must ask why? There are a lot of bad books out there. Why continue reading something that’s boring or that doesn’t deliver on it’s promise? Why punish yourself? So you can say you finished what you started? So you can tell yourself you gave the author a fair shot?

Besides, the 80/20 rules tells us that 80% of a book’s value is contained in 20% of the pages. If you can deduce that value by skimming or by skipping chapters, why wouldn’t you do that?

I guess it depends on why you are reading. I read to gain information, mostly. (I don’t read much fiction these days.) When I can get most of the information I need or want without finishing the book, I do.

Not finishing books is one of my top productivity strategies.

Finally, Shipper says he takes notes as he reads and records the page numbers, so he can refer back to those notes in the future. I do that, too. On Kindle, you can highlight passages and add notes and the system will keep track of those highlights and notes, along with the page numbers. (I haven’t figured out how to export them, though. I’d like to save them in Evernote.)

So, that’s what I do to read (or skim) lots of books. What do you do?

Glad I’m done with this post. I’ve got five books I’m planning to start.

If you use Evernote, get my Evernote for Lawyers ebook. If you don’t use Evernote, helloooooo!