How To Build Your Best Reading List

I am not to be trusted with books. Don't get me wrong. I love books. I don't dog-ear the pages or use them as coasters. But if you turn me loose in a building with books — a library, Barnes & Noble, or even a thrift store — you can rest assured I'll leave with more books than I have room for in my car.

If you have a book addiction like mine, you might find it difficult to stay on track with your reading. With new books pouring into your collection at all times, how are you supposed to keep up? It's inevitable that more than a few books in your possession will fall by the wayside.

A reading list can be a great way to get your book nerdiness back on track after a hiccup caused by a life tragedy, a huge influx of new material, or just a generic reading slump. But sometimes building a reading list can be more intimidating than making your way through it. That's why I've put together this handy, four-step guide to help you build the perfect reading list for any occasion. Just tailor it to meet your needs and have fun organizing your TBR pile. Happy reading!

Determine How Much Time You Have

Although it's ambitious and tempting to read 30 books in a month, it might not be feasible. The biggest reason my reading lists have failed in the past is that I simply tried to read too much.

When you set out to build your next reading list, you should always have a time frame. Ask yourself: Is this reading list for the summer? For the semester? For the year? Your time frame should have definite beginning and end dates, so try to aim for fewer "Books to Read before I Get Married" or "Books to Read before I Die," unless you absolutely, 100 percent know when you will get married or die.

You should also acknowledge how much time you're willing to devote to reading. Are you going to be on bed rest for the next two months? Then you can probably get more reading done than someone working overtime every week. Realizing you can only read for ten hours each week might stop you from trying to read Haruki Murakami's entire bibliography in six weeks, but it will also spare you the disappointment of not meeting your reading goals. Speaking of which...

Pick a Goal or Two

Having a purpose to your reading list will make it that much more enjoyable to build and work through. Are you reading for self-improvement? Do you want to read only books written by women of color? Do you have a favorite author you haven't revisited in a while? No matter how unimportant your goal may seem, it can mean the difference between successfully completing your reading list and starting another reading slump.

Mix It Up, Mix It Up, Mix It Up

Now that you have a goal, you need to select and order your books so that you won't get bored. Whether you're reading through a long series or trying to brush up on your Russian history, reading a lot of the same thing can lead to burnout.

So, mix it up! Alternate between authors, genres, and book lengths to make sure you won't get bogged down when you're only halfway done. Or, better yet, don't order your list at all; just cross each book off as you finish it. That way, you're always reading exactly what you're in the mood for.

Leave Yourself Some Wiggle Room

Life changes can happen in a flash. The person you are when you build your reading list may not be the person you are when you read through it. And that's OK. Because life happens, you should always have a few blank spaces on your reading list. Whether they wind up being for an unplanned read or an extension on one of your longer selections, in the end, you'll be glad you included them.

What are you reading? Share your reading list with me here!

Images: Abhi Sharma/Flickr; Giphy (4)