Never plan what book to read

Posted December 9, 2021 · 1 min read

One of my opinions about reading: to-read lists are fine, but you should never actively plan what book you'll read at any given time.

Here is the reason: the best time to read a book is when you really want to read it. That's really all there is to it.

Think of all the unread books on your shelf – you probably haven't read them yet because you haven't wanted to. When I say "wanted to", I mean that you felt so compelled to read the book that you made time for it. I can defend a collection of unread books with a condition: you shouldn't feel bad that you haven't read them yet. If you're meant to get to them, you will.

One night, I was lying awake in bed when I had the sudden urge to read Russian literature. The next day, I made a special trip to a library in Toronto that had a copy of The Master and Margarita and I started reading it the day after.

There are plenty of books that I've "intended" to read, some for years, but until I have the urge to read them, I'll be reading something else. It reminds me of the J. K. Rowling quote:

If you don't like to read, you haven't found the right book.

Some related principles:

  • If you don't like a book, quit.
  • If you're getting bored or uninterested with a book, put it aside for later.
  • If you feel like starting a book but are halfway through a different one, start it anyways.

Life is short and there's a lot to read. It's much easier if you actually want to read it!


Julia Cooke © 2023