Home > On Reading > The Evolution of My Wishlist

The Evolution of My Wishlist

Before LibraryThing, book blogs, and PaperBackSwap entered my life, I didn’t really have a book wishlist.  Oh if I had gotten into a series I’d keep my eye open for the release of the next one or if a friend recommended a book to me I’d put it on hold in the library, but that was about it.  Back then I’d generally go browse the library or a bookstore and just grab whatever looked interesting and that was that.  My reading was much more hit or miss back then.  I’d periodically find a book I really enjoyed, but most of the time it was average or “yuck, this sucks, but I don’t have anything else to read right now, so there you go.”  This meant that, believe it or not, I’d been an avid reader for years, but didn’t really have a firm grasp on what type of books I enjoy.  I’d read anything I could get my hands on just for the sake of reading, because that’s how it was when I was a kid.  We were poor, and so I had to make do with whatever books I could get my hands on.  This mentality had firmly carried itself over into my adulthood.

Then I started recording what I read on LibraryThing, blogging my own reviews, and discovered book blogs.  I created a wishlist in LibraryThing and started adding pretty much any book that sounded even mildly entertaining to it.  I then added them to my PaperBackSwap wishlist until I hit the limit (which is in the hundreds).  I couldn’t believe how many books I wanted to read! I then had the phenomenon of a tbr pile of books I own, not books I’d checked out from the library.  I was sitting looking at them this week, and it struck me.  There are as many books in my tbr pile as I’ve read so far this year, and I could think of at least a few on my wishlist that I wanted to read more than a few of the ones in my tbr pile.  Then something someone pointed out to me a couple of months ago rang through my brain.  They pointed out that reading is my hobby, and I shouldn’t feel bad for spending money or time on something I enjoy so much.  Well, why have I been spending time and money on books that I don’t want to read as much as other ones?  Why have I felt obligated to?  Because I might like it?  Reading is my hobby; it’s not my job.  It’s not homework.  Why have I felt this obligation to branch out into types of books I don’t tend to like just because others have liked them?  I’m not saying I shouldn’t ever branch out.  That’d get dull.  But if you saw my tbr pile and my wishlist, you’d realize that I was branching out about 50% of the time.  That’s a bit too much in my opinion.  20 to 25% is more like it.

I can’t do anything about the books I already have.  I acquired them, so I’m going to read them, but I could do something about my wishlist.  So I went into my PaperBackSwap wishlist and ruthlessly went through, eliminating books that I’d tossed on there without much thought.  What’s left is books I genuinely want to read, and yes, a couple of them are branching out of my norm.  They stayed because they sounded genuinely intriguing, not because they sounded mildly interesting.  I can only read so many books a year.  Why spend time on 0nes that don’t grip me?  That don’t affect my perception of the world?  Life’s too short.  I should enjoy every second of it I get to spend reading for fun.

  1. September 23, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Right on. I tend to be a lot more haphazard and read outside my comfort zone mostly for the purposes of reader’s advisory. However, I am still pretty strict about my “not-rereading” goal, which has helped me read so many more awesome books than if I had kept re-reading my old standbys.

    • September 24, 2010 at 9:16 am

      That was originally part of it for me too, but I figured, may as well not do that until/if I work in a public library. Reader’s advisory isn’t particularly relevant at my current job, heh.

  2. September 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

    I stick very much to what I like or what I think I will like. And when I do branch out, I do so gingerly always looking for the best of what I want to read. I agree that life’s too short to spend time reading what does not appeal to us. It’s a hobby, as you said. Also, luckily for me I don’t get offered a lot of review books. so I can stick to my own reading comfort zones.

    • September 24, 2010 at 9:16 am

      Haha, I also don’t get offered many review books. I have a feeling this is because I’m rather, um, brutually honest. Lol.

  3. September 23, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I like branching out once in a while, but even then if a book isn’t grabbing me I won’t continue. It sounds like this was a good plan, to pare things down to what you really like again. After all, reading should be enjoyable! I don’t like it to feel like a chore.

    • September 24, 2010 at 9:17 am

      Glad you like the plan!

  4. Laura
    September 23, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    When I started my MLS, I realized that I wanted to be more purposeful about my reading. So I started my List O’ Things to Read. I keep a simple Google doc, which I like because I can add details about where I heard about the book or why I think I want to read it. I finally had to start another YA reading list, because I like to listen to audiobooks and am a little pickier.

    My local library is my system’s central branch. A LOT of their materials are in storage so browsing just wasn’t cutting it for me. Using a reading list and placing holds has helped me choose books that I WANT to read.

    • September 24, 2010 at 9:18 am

      Yeah browsing is definitely different here in city libraries that share resources with other libraries as opposed to the small town library I grew up with. My small town library you just had to take what was there. With being able to order things from other branches in Boston, it’s changed the whole dynamic for me.

  5. September 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Interesting post! My wishlist on BookMooch is around 1300 I think, so an awful lot of books! But I use it to track anything that I might want to read. And because my tastes are so varied, I’m always looking for something different to read, so it works!

    • September 30, 2010 at 8:38 am

      Hmm, my problem with that is I always want to say “yes” when it becomes available! Lol. I do use a LibraryThing account in the way you describe though….as reminders of what I might want to read someday.

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