For the last ten years, my reading habits have been more or less the same. Ever since I could drive myself to the library, I’ve been checking out a large bag of books every week. Once home, I’d always arrange my haul of twelve or so books on the bedroom floor and graze randomly through the collection based on my mood. Most of these books never got read. They were there to be my comfort blanket. I liked knowing I had options waiting for me every time I finished the book in my hand.
I’d read YA next if I was looking for something easy to read and escapist. I’d read fantasy if I was in the mood to get away from the real world. Literary fiction and non-fiction were my respites when I’d had too much of dragons. Romance, graphic novels, and memoirs were saved for bad days and classic literature for very good ones. My reading topics were erratic and I’d always try to check out a wide variety of books just in case I was in the mood for something off-the-wall.
It was nice to read so diversely, but mood-based reading had it’s downfalls. I’d get frustrated when I didn’t have a book on the topic I wanted to read or if I was so emotionally down that I couldn’t decide what mood I was even in. Depression was (and is) the enemy of mood reading and caused me a lot of problems–especially in the last four or five years. I’d go weeks without reading anything other than comics and graphic novels simply because I couldn’t commit to any longer fiction.
For better or worse, I figured this sort of mood-based, randomized browsing would be my reading style forever, but after getting a job at the library last Fall, my habits changed dramatically. Now, I always know what I want to read without having to consult my mood. I may leave off the next book in my TBR if I’m too stressed or depressed to take it on, but for the most part, I stick to a schedule of “I’ll read this, then this, then this.”
When at the library, I only check out a handful of books at a time now. Sometimes I skip checking out anything all together for an entire week so I can finish what I already have. I also read a lot of books that I own, and I’ve even started purchasing new books from my To-Read list–which is something I haven’t done since college.
It’s weird how different this all is, but I’ve thought about it and I do believe that there’s three main reasons that my habits have changed.
First, I’ve finally started a proper TBR. My to-be-read pile’s not large, but every season, I pick five books off my shelves to read. This started last Summer, and it’s gotten me reading specific books in a specific order for the first time. Now, whenever I wonder what to read next, I go to my TBR shelf and pick up a book. I’ve even starting adding books to the shelf as I clear it out. This means, I’m reading through more and more books I own–which is nice because that one shelf directs my reading in a productive, shelf-cleaning sort of way.
The second reason I believe my reading style has changed is because I have bookish coworkers for the first time. Almost weekly, I get recommendations from librarians and shelvers on what I should be reading next. Because I see these people on a regular basis, I always try to remember to read their recs as soon as possible so we can talk about them.
Thirdly and finally, joining a Reading Challenge this year has definitely affected my habits. This is the first reading challenge I’ve ever joined and I’m enjoying figuring out books to read for each part of the challenge. Sometimes, these books overlap with my TBR or my recommendations, but mostly, I choose to read books that I’ve been meaning to pick up for a long time (to sort of shame myself into getting them done).
Between these three things, my reading life is covered. I might have some time to spare for a Graphic Novel or Manga if I want a palate cleanser, but mostly, I’m just juggling my TBR, recs, and Reading Challenge. I’m to the point where I have to schedule out my reading so I can get them all done.
It’s a nice way to go about things, actually. I’m a list maker and scheduler from way back so it feels like my reading habits are finally corresponding with my personality. I like not being a mood reader anymore. There’s a lot less books to wrangle and I spend a lot less time agonizing what book suits me best.
Have your reading habits ever changed? How do you choose what to read next?