Since the invention of the printing press, reading has been a way to expand your knowledge. However, since there are not enough hours in the day to read everything anyone has ever written on any subject, it’s clear your reading should be focused. Some of what you read should be at random, but most of it ought to be done with a purpose. Reading a book or even a short essay has the chance to change your life.
Since I write a great deal on widely different subjects, I often combine at least part of my reading program with what I am writing about or with what I am planning to write about. The closer I am to finishing a piece of writing, the more I begin reading only about what is related to the writing. At that point I may find something I want to read that is unrelated to the writing and if I simply cannot break away from my focus, I make a note to read it later. Keeping track of what to read and when to read it is a messy process.
A comprehensive reading list is a must, especially as relates to major items you know you can’t get at just now because you are working on a big essay or even longer piece of writing and you just can’t afford the time to read anything unrelated to what you are writing about — unless it’s very short.
Not everything you must read is neatly organized on a list. A big pile of books I’ve accumulated from book stores, libraries or from friends who have lent me something I must read. This pile may be both fiction and nonfiction and some of it is time sensitive. I try to check the pile once a week. The books I have purchased are set to one side and I simply try to decide if something needs to be returned to a library or to the person who lent me the book.
The rest of my reading list increasingly comes from electronic sources. These include items bookmarked on the internet or items downloaded onto my Kindle. When I have an idea that comes to me while writing or reading or even while watching a news program or a more general discussion on television, I make a note of it. Later or even immediately I may google it and read or briefly scan some of the hits. I may bookmark a few google hits or just read them and make a few notes. Items or books that go into these notes may go onto my general reading list.
Usually early in the morning after I’ve done my writing I’ll look for items of interest on a news aggregation service like http://www.dailysource.org. click on articles or on op. ed. pieces of interest. I will usually just read them or make a bookmark. I generally stay away from bookmarks as the links do time out frequently. If it’s important enough, I’ll make a note of it in one of my notebooks.
On the Kindle I am often reading several books at the same time and making notes also. Overall, I’m often reading something several hours a day — also making notes. However, the note-taking sometimes gets by me, but I usually manage to stay focused enough to get most of it. Notes are deliberately kept brief. I stuff coffee shop receipts in amongst the cash in my wallet, and that always gives me something to write on. Notes on what to read and why accumulate in one place–generally stuffed into a small notebook on my desk. I don’t reorganize it or consolidate it often. I like to spend most of my time reading and writing.
I don’t overdo generally. I do all the cooking in my household. I exercise a lot, garden and allow some time each day for just thinking about things. I love to talk to people.
I tend to read early in the morning and sometimes in the early evening. I have a short term and a long term reading list. Every month or so I review the list and move some items from short term to long term. Some of it I may never get to. Seasonal reading lists are a good idea. In my free reading, I like to read for variety, but occasionally I do get excessively focused on fiction, classic literature, history, economics, autobiography, or science.
I read when I can and wherever I can. I often carry my Kindle as opposed to a collection of bulky books. I never go on a long trip without a good book.