How I Read More Books By Doing This One Thing Every Summer

By Kerri Jarema
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With over half of 2019 gone, I've been thinking a lot about how I want the rest of my reading year to go. All bookish people will understand the feeling: There are less than six months left in the year, and there are so many books still left on the TBR stack. One of the very best ways I've found to abate the "How am I going to read all of these books?!" anxiety that usually creeps up on me in the second half of the year is to make a list of my favorite books I've read over the last six months.

By the time August arrives, I've long since forgotten the first book of the year I've read. Well, forgotten is a strong word. I use Goodreads to catalogue my yearly reads, after all, and I often click on my yearly reading challenge to see how much I've accomplished. But, while I might remember the books themselves, I don't always remember how they made me feel — whether they led to a reading slump or motivated me to pick up more from the genre, if an author has become a new favorite or an auto no-buy, and what books I added or subtracted from my TBR based on post-read excitement or boredom.

By taking stock of all the books I've read in the first half of the year, and setting aside at least five that I would count as favorites, I can craft a fresh TBR for the next six months that reflects those reading wins — and it's pretty much guaranteed to lead to six more successful reading months.

Because the truth is that reading tastes can shift at any moment, often without warning. I started the year fully intending to get through a ton of memoirs. So, it would only make sense to add more to my second-half TBR, right? But upon looking at my list of read books, I noticed that two of the four memoirs I've read so far were disappointing, and I DNF'ed (did not finish) two others. In actuality, this has been the year of the rom-com for me. Just looking at the last five books I read, three of them were rom-coms and I would consider all three among the best books I've read so far. By figuring that out, I can focus on prioritizing the books I'm most excited about right now instead of wading through a list of reads I have thought much about since last January.

So, if you, like me, want to smash your TBR before the year is up, and create a stack of end-of-summer beach reads — along with cozy tomes for fall road-trips and cozy holiday evenings in — join me in making a list of your favorite reads so far this year. When I let that list be my reading guide, I find that the months to follow are always some of my most memorable, most fun, and most productive of the year. And who can argue with those results?