Saying Yes and No in Your Reading Life: Choosing Your Priorities

If you know me very much at all you probably already know that I listen to a lot of podcasts. I find them to be a great way to take in information passively, as in I don’t have to search for it or focus on it too intensely. What does this have to do with reading? Well, for one thing, I get a lot of great book recommendations from almost every podcast I listen too. But the post you are reading right now was actually inspired by one particular podcast, even more specifically, one particular episode.

One of the podcasts I listen to religiously is The Simple Show, hosted by Tsh Oxenreider (author of this book I loved, in case you missed it). Every week she and one of the show’s rotating cohosts talk about keeping life simple and what that means for them. Lately she’s been doing a series about saying ‘yes’ & ‘no’ to the right things in different areas of your life, ranging from your kids education to exercise to – you guessed it – reading.

What you say yes and no to is an important question, because we just don’t have time for everything. My personal belief is that reading has a lot of value, but you have to know when and what and how to read the right way for you, because everyone is different. To give you an idea of what I mean, and to help you evaluate what the yeses and noes should be for your own reading life, I’m sharing my mine today.

If you want to listen to Tsh and Haley talk about what they say no and yes to for reading, click here: Episode 98: Reading For Fun.

What I say NO to:

Forcing myself to finish a book I don’t like. Life is too short to read books that aren’t for you. I used to be a diehard finisher, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve become ok with dropping a book that’s not working for me. You can read more about my book abandonment philosophy here.

Choosing a book just because it’s popular right now. This is a tricky one, because as a book blogger I try to stay up to date with what’s going on in the book world. But when I look at new best sellers or books that everyone is recommending I try not to get caught up in the hype and to take a step back and ask myself if I want to read it because it really sounds interesting to me or just because everyone else is. Easier said than done sometimes.

Judging other people’s reading choices. My friends, this is a no-judgement zone when it comes to reading. Whatever you like to read is fine by me – but I hope you are reading something! Not everyone likes the same style and genre of book and that’s ok with me. I still want to hear about what you are reading even if (especially if) it’s wildly different from what I like.

What I say YES to:

Liking what I like. This ties in closely with my last ‘no’. If you’ve spent much time on my blog you probably already guessed that Historical Christian Fiction is my favorite genre. I realize that it’s a pretty specific classification and also that it’s not the highbrow, literary type of thing that a lot of people prefer. You know something? I don’t care! Was that always the case? Nope. My acceptance of my preferences is a somewhat recent development, because I used to feel like people were going to judge me for my less that literary choices. But I’ve liked this genre since I was a teen and I still really love it, so I’m going to read what I like unashamedly.

Reading widely. Even though I have a clear favorite genre, I still say yes to reading from a wide variety a genres. You never know where you might find a gem, and sometimes it’s nice to grab a fantasy or a mystery to cleanse the palate after a wagon train binge. And I like nonfiction for it’s educational and inspirational qualities.

Re-reading. I don’t do it as much as I used to, but I occasionally say yes to re-reading a book. There are so many new books to read that I don’t do a ton of re-reading, but it can be nice to go back and revisit an old favorite. This is especially true during high stress seasons of life, when you want to escape to somewhere easy and familiar. It can feel like going home, which is so relaxing.

Reading lists and goals. Some people find reading lists and goals to be restrictive, but I feel like they are great guidelines when used flexibly. Setting a goal gives you a way to measure how well you are doing at keeping in line with your reading priorities, and having a list provides a framework to guide you. I like to start out my year with a short list (generally twelve, usually themed) of books I want to complete before the year ends. I add to them however I want, but I like to give myself that backbone to work with. This was my list for this year, in case you are curious.

Alright friends, that’s what I say yes and no to in my reading life. What do you say yes and no to?


  1. These are such great guidelines to follow! There are some books that I just can’t finish, even though they are popular at the time. On the other hand, there are multiple book series that I have each book over at least a dozen times, (Percy Jackson when I was in 5th grade, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice) to name a few. I might have to try reaching out to a few more genres though. Usually, I stick to my favorites. Thanks for the list!

    • I had to let go of several popular books that I really wanted to like earlier this year. They just weren’t working for me! I’ve been thinking of letting 2018 be my ‘year of rereading’ so I can go back and revisit some old favorites that I’ve read a dozen times like you. Thanks for stopping by!

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