Fiddling With With My Reading System

So a few posts ago I mentioned this Book Riot essay about whittling down the TBR pile and said that I would tweak it a bit to fit my TBR problem, which is prioritizing library books over the books I’ve bought.  Working in a library makes it nearly impossible to avoid putting the newest books on hold as soon as they’re in the system. It’s a perk, because I’m almost always near the top of the holds lists.  But as those hold copies come in, if I’m not on top of them all the time, I can quickly be buried in new books that can’t be renewed (because others are waiting.)

Since reading that essay, I have indeed experimented with a new reading system:  two of my own purchased books for every one library book.  And it’s been working beautifully! I’ve read FOUR of my own books in about a month, which is practically unheard of for me.  (In case you were wondering, they’re John Crow’s Devil, How It All Began, A Few Green Leaves by Barbara Pym, and The Zero by Jess Walter.)51u0JxuMEWL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

HOWEVER.  (You sensed that was coming, right?) A few new library books sneaked up on me and arrived before I wanted them to.  And they’re much-buzzed about ones that I’m excited to read: No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts and Borne by Jeff Vandermeer.  So I am thinking that my little system is going to be coming to an end very soon. 31451186

But I do like this alternating library books with my own books thing, so I’m going to make a conscious effort to do that more, especially when I don’t have a lot of new holds coming in.  I try to make use of my library’s “Vacation Stop” system and push back holds if I’m nearing the top of the waiting list, but sometimes I forget to manage it.  All in all, for a mood reader and heavy library user like me, the “Two For One” system is too restrictive to use long-term.

So what about you?  That Vacation Stop thing is a helpful feature – do you make use of yours to manage your own library holds?  Have you ever tried a new reading system? How do you choose your next book?

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45 thoughts on “Fiddling With With My Reading System

  1. Alternating library and personal copies sounds like a great way to make progress through my shelves of unread books! Hope you enjoy No One Is Coming to Save Us; I got to review that one for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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  2. I’ve never had a system; I think books are like cats…the right one comes to you, when you’re ready (and by that I mean if you’re in the habit of visiting the library and the animal shelter then you will find the right one at the right time). I guess this means you’d classify me as a “mood reader”?

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  3. This does sound like a really great idea! Yes, I use the hold suspension feature at my library. I assume that’s what you mean by vacation stop. 🙂

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  4. I try to mix up bought books, library books and NetGalley reads but as I have no self-control when it comes to any of these things, my system basically comes down to just reading all the time to get to the next book! I’m also a lot less selective with requesting library books; if it’s not going to cost anything, I’m more likely to request a book on a whim or because I’ve seen it mentioned on a blog or in a book. Really, thank god libraries exist! I usually try to organise my reading to make sure I’m alternating between adult fiction, non-fiction and YA, and I usually like to have a graphic novel and poetry collection on the go too. It’s not the most logical system…

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  5. I tried alternating library books and owned books, and it was working pretty well for a while, but somehow the library book count always starts to sneak up, and right now I’m quite overwhelmed. But always, always in a good way! I will eventually make it back down again. 🙂

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  6. There are certainly times when I am buried under library books, but I’ve taught myself not to feel guilty if I return them unread. I can always get them back, and since I don’t often read brand new releases, the wait time is usually very short. For me, it’s a much greater temptation to purchase books. I’m restricting myself by regularly looking over the books I already own, and that has helped me to curb both how much I spend on books and how much I read from the library. I keep finding books that I forgot I owned or that I forgot I really wanted to read. So far this year, these little discoveries have helped to whittle down my TBR pile (so it’s hard to see the dent with all the unread books I have).

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  7. I’m definitely a mood reader. I have a hard time scheduling books in advance because I have to be in a certain mood depending on the genre. That makes it hard when I put a hold on library books, because sometimes I’m in the mood for them when I put them on my holds list, but by the time they are available, I’m no longer in the right frame of mind to read them.

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  8. The things we do to try and impose order on our out of control books! I admire you’ve been sticking to it! I have decided to pretty much give up because whatever I have tried in the past works for a week or two a month or two at most, and then collapses completely. For some reason it took me forever to notice that I could pause my hold requests at the library but since I discovered it I use it often 🙂

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  9. I mainly read the books that I have been sent or that I have myself requested to publishers, as I enjoy contemporary books more than old ones (or even backlisters). However, I do tend to visit my local library once a month when I’m in Spain because I’m terrified they will close it down. So, even though I may just want to browse the book, I will borrow it so that the record shows me as an active library user.

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      1. Eh, as a literature teacher, I both want to read and want others to read. I know it’s easy to get me to read. It may not be so easy to get them to read, so I try to stay out of the way as much as possible.

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  10. Hahahaha, you’re a better woman than I. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read seven of my own books, like books that I own but haven’t read yet. SEVEN. And there have been times this year where I’ve thought “but then how will I read all the library books if I am forced to read books from my own shelves?” I have read five books I already own so far this year, but since I have also acquired like, upwards of fifty new books, I think I should probably revise my goal upward.

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  11. I’m always trying a new reading plan, or revising the previous one, or shifting the slant: something! I’ve got a lifelong habit of ignoring my own shelves, so it’s been a long process to work back from the library temptations and make room for both kinds of reading, and it’s still working out some kinks. I do try to use the “suspend” feature but it gets away from me often because I don’t predict well when I’m getting close to the top; I think there are a lot of folks in front of me and then, wham, 20 turns into “now, me”. Oops!

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    1. Yes – that’s happened to me too. Also the whole “I’m number 1 on the list but who knows when that book will actually come in?” and then it does right away.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one with this kind of “problem!” 🙂

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  12. I like your reading system.I really long for a time that I can do that.Currently overwhelmed by ARCs and it seems that I will be for May and June.However,I’ll definitely try it out as soon as I can.Congratulations on the 7 books and I hope that the system continues working for you.

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  13. I love this idea of reading 2 books for every 1 library new release! I need to do this with my ARC and the books I own… except I would need to read 4 ARCs then read one of my books until I get these ARCs under control, then I would flip it to get my physical TBR under control. I may give this a go next month 🙂

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  14. Wow…I love it that you have a system in place. I generally prioritise the NetGalley copies over my personal collection. Now, I am putting a conscious effort to change that and catch up on my personal books before even requesting anything new from NetGalley.

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  15. Well done! I fear I daren’t go near the library any more! Between own books and NetGalley I’d never find time to read them. I keep saying I’ll rejoin the library when I’m on top of the books I already have… *sighs*

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  16. I like your system! Right now I’m reading too many library books at the expense of the books on my book shelves that sit unread. So your post is timely. I will try to start alternating! The library books on hold for me come in all at once, which is another problem for me.

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  17. I didn’t read that Book Riot essay, but I was trying to find a way to manage my TBR couple nights ago. Sometimes I forget how many books I have on hold and then they all become available at the same time so I end up spending more time with library books rather than those I own. I’m considering avoiding the library (and hopefully the bookstore) for a couple months and work through books I own.

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    1. I would never recommend avoiding the library! (Ha ha, I work in one!) But I understand. It can get overwhelming. I have to remind myself that I can always request a book another time. That helps. Sometimes I just turn everything back in and start over completely. 🙂

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