Reading Order: Strict Schedule or On A Whim?

When writing fiction, and especially when participating in NaNoWriMo (If you write, I highly suggest checking that site out!), there’s this idea of Plotters Vs. Pantsers.  Basically it’s the idea of how you approach a new manuscript: Do you outline your plot and have a lot of your novel planned out beforehand (Plotter), or do you just fly by the seat of your pants and write as you go (Pantser)?  I used to be a major Plotter.  I am with a lot of things in my life. But in the past couple of years of doing NaNoWriMo, I’ve become more of a Pantser.

But that idea of flying by the seat of my pants has not carried over to my reading.  My review books, and especially my BEA books, all get put in publication order as soon as possible, and I stick to a pretty strict schedule so that I can read all of them and review them right around the publication date. I get a bit crazy with it.  Each book has a post-it note attached to the cover with the publication date, the month I should read it, and how I received it. This year, for my BEA books, I even made a chart in my notebook with the title, the publication date, the month I should read it, and the date my review will go up on my blog.  I mostly did that this year because I have TONS of books that are being published in September, so I wanted to make sure that, even if I have to review some a little early, the reviews don’t come out more than 30 days before the book is published.

My BEA 2014 books, in order of
publication date (for the most part)

But I find this kind of schedule to be really limiting at times.  It means that my poor, sad books that I’ve bought are just sitting there, waiting to be read for who knows how long.  And sometimes I just really WANT to read something else.  BUT this year, I’m really challenging myself to read and review all of the books I got at BEA this year, and I want the reviews to come out before the publication date.  And because I’m a pretty slow reader, this means I really can’t read any other books along with those BEA books–at least not for a while.

I do know there are some bloggers out there, like Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner, who are more Pantsers when it comes to reading.  Or, as Jamie calls it, a Mood Reader.  I would love to be able to read like this.  And even when I don’t have tons of BEA books to read, and my TBR pile is mostly comprised of books I’ve purchased, with only a few review books mixed in, I still feel like I kind of have to have an idea of what I’m going to read soon. Obviously, I like to plan. But sometimes I just wish I could just grab a book off my shelves and read it, no matter what the publication date is.

What about you guys?  Are you Plotters or Pantsers when it comes to your TBR pile?  And do you wish you could be more like the other?  


  1. Nobody

    July 15, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I think I'm definitely more of a pantser when it comes to reading(which is the opposite of my writing where I am definitely a plotter). Most the time I have a basic idea of when I need to read my review copies but mainly I just read whatever I want. Granted I don't normally have long list of review books so I imagine it would be different if I did.

  2. Kate Midnight Book Girl

    July 15, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Usually I'm a total pantser, which is why I participate in a book blog tour, because it forces me to have some books that I have a very limited time to read (one week per book) and review (due to post one week after sending the book to the next reviewer. But mostly I just read what I want to read. I don't worry about posting a review within 30 days of the release, because sometimes I feel bombarded by popular titles that everyone is posting about… on the other hand I admire you and other organized people, too often my style is just too scattered.

  3. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    July 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    For the most part I am a pantser, however both this time and last time I went to BEA I did make a spreadsheet (man I love spreadsheets!) with all the release dates so I know when the books come out and when I should post my review. Like you I like to keep the reviews within the 30 days. I'm not super strict about the spreadsheet though, If I'm not feeling a book, then I'm not feeling a book and I move on. The more I "force" myself to read a book the less likely I am to enjoy it.

  4. Christy M

    July 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Definitely a Pantser, I find that of I try to stick to a schedule then I just get burnt out and I hate that feeling of not wanting to pick a book up. So I try to just go with the flow and read what I want, when I want of course this makes me a little late sometimes on release dates but I feel like if I read a book because I have to then I may not enjoy as much as if I was just in the mood for that genre.

  5. Fry

    July 15, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I'd love to be a plotter, but I'm such a pantser. I should probably fix that.

  6. Memory

    July 15, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I'm a little bit of both. I accept few review copies, so I don't usually worry about scheduling my reading to correspond with release days. Instead, I'll decide I'm in the mood for a particular genre and draft a plan to read tons of relevant books–then alter that plan at a moment's notice as my mood shifts.

    Basically, I'm always looking ahead to my next few reads, but I'm not married to that list. I deviate from it when necessary. Sometimes I'll pick up five random books in a row; others, I'll stick to a particular theme for a month.

    Right now, though, I'm pretty well locked into a schedule because I'm reading for the Hugo Awards. I need to have everything wrapped up by July 31st, so I'm focusing on the nominated titles even though I have the worst craving for thick, wallowsome fantasy. Oh well. The stuff I'm reading is great, and I'll get the fantasy I crave as soon as I strike everything else off my list and can go back to Robert Jordan.

  7. Brandi Kosiner

    July 15, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Def a plotter, I have a calendar with dates through november right now I think (not completely full that far out, but still) that tells me what to read, gives me 5-6 days and then on to the next. I usually do it by publication, but not always

  8. Audrey @ The Book Analyst

    July 15, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I feel like I'm a good mix of plotter and pantser. I'll have about 3-5 options for myself and then I'll choose from those. Having a smaller number to choose from makes it easier, but still gives me the organization and the mood-read options that I need.

  9. Angie F

    July 15, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Plotter! I cannot just choose a book that I feel like I reading, because I am just not a mood reader. Or I'm always in the mood for anything! My reading schedule doesn't always follow ARCs, since I don't get many, but it does follow challenges I'm participating in. I'm always looking for books on my TBR that can count for multiple reading challenges, and then figuring out when to read them. Challenges are really the driving force of my book selection.

    Angie @ Pinkindle

  10. Jennifer Hunter

    July 15, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    I'm starting to be a little of both. I def. lean plotter, but I'm trying to indulge my whims, more, when I just want to read something that's not on the schedule. So freeing! I'm loving it!

  11. Chrystal

    July 16, 2014 at 2:51 am

    I'm a bit of both. I read my review books for tours on time, my other review books I read in a kind of what I feel like schedule and my personal choices I try to mix in between the review books and tours. :) That way I don't feel burnt out and I get to make sure I read a few just for fun (sometimes I review those and sometimes I don't).

  12. Becoming Books

    July 16, 2014 at 3:21 am

    I used to be a straight plotter but now due to a large number of ARCs I'm doing a mixture of both. I look at what all is being released in the next week or so and then from that list prioritize based on mood. I've also gotten over my fear to DNF, sort of. So this has been freeing as well and I'm trying to work in some library/non-ARC reads.
    – meghann

  13. Bekka

    July 16, 2014 at 5:10 am

    I am a mood reader, but my review copy pile has made it so I really can't be. Right now I have 50 ARCs that need to be read (and half are pubbed in September.) So I HAVE to schedule my reading. For that, I have a really in-depth spreadsheet listed by publication order and whenever I get a new ARC it gets entered into that sheet right away.

    I've decided though, that at the end of the year (around the end of October) I'm taking an ARC break and reading what I want to for a while. This is out of control and I have feeling like my blog controls me and not the other way around!

  14. LHughes

    July 18, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I love how you compared writing plotters/pantsers to the reading life! Great idea! :D

    I've purposely never pursued ARCs for two reasons:
    1) Being on a schedule
    2) To prevent blogging life taking precedence over writing life

    I'm very much a Pantser when it comes to my reading. Reading feeds my soul, and I've benefitted on more than one occasion where the right book found me at the right time. The most planning I will do is I will plan to NOT start a new book if a book I've been waiting for is coming out soon (for example: I didn't start any books the week before Cress came out in anticipation!)

    It's funny because, like you, I'm the opposite in my writing life. I plan excessively when I write. So maybe I need that freedom when I read since there's so much structure in my writing life? Interesting to think about!

    Great discussion post!!! <3
    Lauren @ Wordy Hughes

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