Steve Leveen’s The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life sort of belongs in the goofy, slight, self-help category of books. But because he did actually talk to a wide range of avid readers, his summary of reading advice includes a few helpful ideas that are new to me (as well as some already familiar ones).
The first (and biggest) new idea is creating a list of candidates for reading, grouped under headings, with notes about when and why they were added. Leveen suggests there are too many books to read and that you should pay attention to what your interests are and seek to find the best books that reflect your interests. (He’s also an advocate for abandoning books that just aren’t doing it for you.) He links this suggestion to keeping a list of the books you’ve read (obviously not a new idea for me).
The obvious categories for my list of candidates included Time Travel, Speculative Fiction, Biography, Natural History, Horticulture, Botany, and Taxonomy.
Leveen suggests buying books and shelving them by the same categories so they are ready to hand when you’re looking for something to read. After he’s read books, he puts them on an intermediate shelf where he can easily pick them up to review what he learned or noted from each book before moving them into what he calls his “Living Library.”
In order to get more from reading, he suggests surveying the book before beginning to read, writing in the margins (especially questions to yourself), and reviewing the book at increasing intervals after you finish.
He includes chapters on audio books and book groups.
All in all, a worthwhile read.