One Great Tip: Reading Deliberately

I first met Sheila when she joined my blogging mastermind group a few months ago, and I was immediately drawn to the thoughtful book reviews she shared on her personal blog. Then last month, she launched a new site called The Deliberate Reader – because great books shouldn’t be hard to find. She’s currently doing a series called “31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads,” and offering some great book suggestions. The only downside is that my “to-read” list is growing exponentially! Oh well… 😉


Want to Read More, and Enjoy What You Read?

Otherwise known as my number one reading tip:

Read what you like.

Revolutionary it may not be, but it’s easy to get caught up in reading what’s popular, or what you think you “should” read. If you’re not enjoying what you’re reading, it’s going to a lot harder to be motivated to read.

Conversely, if you’re reading something you love, you’ll find pockets of time to read a few more pages. You’ll pass on a so-so TV show in order to get a chapter or two finished. You’ll make time to read when you want to find out what happens.

Part of me wishes that I liked highbrow literary fiction. Instead my favorite fiction reads include mysteries, fantasy, historical, and some childrens/young adult titles. You know what though? That’s what I like, and that’s ok.

Even within genres, there is a wide variety of books, so finding more books to read that you’ll like is easier when you already know what you like. The mystery genre includes subgenres such as cozies, hard-boiled/noir, police procedural, historical, legal, supernatural, private investigators, amateur investigators, capers, whodunits, and more. I love some subgenres of mysteries, but there are certain subgenres that I don’t like at all, so it helps to know your preferences.

And of course, you don’t have to be limited to reading fiction! There are many people who think they don’t like nonfiction, but that’s such a broad category, you might be surprised to find that actually you do! Perhaps you don’t like dry history texts, but you’d love memoirs. There are nonfiction books available on virtually any topic you can imagine – animals, food, money, travel…

As you’re reading what you like, it leads to a related point: You don’t have to finish it.

This is a point I wish I’d learned years ago. Or at least learned to put it into practice more reliably. I’ve recently been adding the books I’ve read over the past 13 years to my Goodreads account. And if I could tell my 1998 self something, it would be to be a lot fussier over what books were worth finishing.

I’m not talking about books I had to read for school; I’m talking about the books I voluntarily chose, and finished, despite not really enjoying them.

All that reading time was, in many ways, wasted. There are hundreds if not thousands of other books I wish I’d read instead.

It’s still hard for me to not finish a book, but I’m getting better at it. I just wish I’d started a lot sooner.

No matter how much reading time you have, you’ll still never be able to read everything. Being deliberate and intentional in your choices is important, but so is admitting when a book isn’t working for you. Unless it’s something you have to read (like for a class assignment), it’s ok to quit. It’s ok to quit after only a few pages in. It’s ok to quit halfway through. It’s ok to quit when you’re almost done..

Reading is one of my favorite things to do, so I make it a priority. Even so, I’ve had to learn to be pickier about my reading choices. I try to select books with care, and I try to concede if they’re not worth continuing to read.  I want to make the best use of my reading time, whether I’m reading to learn something new, or simply for enjoyment. At my new blog The Deliberate Reader I share book reviews, lists, and suggestions, as well as posts about the reading life and life as a reader.


Grab button for The Deliberate Reader


A former librarian turned stay-at-home mom, Sheila shares her love of reading at The Deliberate Reader.

For more about finding great books, visit this post.



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22 thoughts on “One Great Tip: Reading Deliberately

  1. […] tip? Well, you’ll just have to click to find out – I’m guest posting over at DogFur and Dandelions as part of Elizabeth’s “One Tip” […]

  2. I know exactly what you mean. I felt guilty for the longest time about not finishing books, but now I have a condition called RADD (reader attention deficit disorder), in which I have several books going at once and seldom finish any of them. I love your message, and I love this post.

    1. I have RADD too, but I do eventually finish most of the books. But once I gathered all the books i had in process at once and it was RIDICULOUS. Like 15 books in various stages. I have problems. 😉

  3. “you don’t have to finish a book.” Such a great tip. I feel compelled to finish most books. But, when you talk about the wasted hours-well, that makes sense.

    1. I have to remind myself of this all the time. Is this really what I want to spend my reading time on? I’m still somewhat kicking myself for finishing the entire Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. So not worth it. So many hours spent on it.

  4. I love this tip! And I like the second point too. How many times I’ve stopped reading for a period of time because I felt compelled to finish a book I didn’t enjoy. Thanks for sharing, Sheila!

    1. Glad to know it’s not just me who has slowed to a crawl (at best) with all of my reading when I’m slogging through a book I don’t like.

  5. I agree that it’s very important to read what you like. But there are many wonderful reads I would have missed out on if I hadn’t read past the first twenty pages or so. I guess it’s a matter of balance between giving a book a chance and wasting your time on a book you aren’t going to enjoy.

    1. Alison I tried to reply and it’s at the bottom of the comments instead of right below your comment. But yes, it is a balancing act sometimes. 🙂

  6. These are great tips! There have been so many times when I have taken on a review that I wasn’t thrilled about, and immediately regretted it a few pages in. I want to start working my way through my personal collection – because I have so much I WANT to read hidden in there!

    1. This is a reason I’m not crazy about a couple of the review programs I’ve signed up for. I don’t want to be required to finish the book, and I don’t want to be required to write a review, especially if it’s more that the book isn’t a good fit for me verses not a good book, if that makes sense.

      And oh, do I hear you on the personal collection of books that are waiting and waiting and waiting…

      1. Sheila, I hear you on the review programs. I have a book that I’ve been trying to read for 2 months now… great book, I think, just the wrong timing for me.

  7. Thanks for this. I read a lot, and I’ve just recently learned that it’s OK to put a book aside and not finish it. My blog is really just the kind of book I wish someone else would write . . . sometimes funny, sometimes thoughtful. That link is definitely going in my bookmarks!

    1. Thanks for your comment!

  8. Thank you for the opportunity to guest post!

    I don’t know why it’s so hard to not finish a book, but it helps me to try and remember the books I’m excited about reading that are waiting for me. That often gives me a good idea if the book I’m slogging through is worth it (because I’m learning something, or it’s just a duller section) or if I should cut my losses and move on.

    1. Thank YOU for sharing! I’ve already taken this tip to heart! 🙂

  9. Great tip! Too often i want to read a book because someone is talking about it when I really need to focus on what I want to read. Confession: I have over 200 books on my office (that I own!) that are in my to read pile!

    1. I am scared to add up all the books that I own that are still waiting for me to read them. The library books with their due dates are always pushing them to the side.

  10. Oh, absolutely, and I don’t have a firm page limit for my reads. But for me at least, there’s a difference between a slow to start book that ends up being something I love, and a book that I should have stopped early when I can tell right away that it’s not my cup of tea.

    Trying to think of an example …

    A friend-of-a-friend has written some romance novels (not my favorite genre at all). I picked one up more out of curiosity than anything else. By the end of the first chapter I didn’t like the premise, I didn’t like the heroine, and I didn’t like the graphic sex details she included. So why did I keep reading it? No idea, but I wish I hadn’t.

    1. Sorry, that was supposed to be in response to Alison Solove @ExperimentalWifery.

  11. Your tip about not finishing a book has been so key…I no longer feel guilty if I quit a book 5 or 15 pages in.

  12. […] A book that I’m excited to read I will do all I can to find those extra bits of time to spend reading. When a book is plodding or doesn’t keep my interest, it’s easy to be pulled away by the tv or random internet surfing. Put it down and pick up a different one! Just because it’s a best seller / recommended by your best friend / recommended by a favorite resource, doesn’t mean that the book will be right for you. That’s ok – read what you like. […]

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