The Book Purgatory List

March 1st, 2016 5 min readReading,System

I've been burned by bad "best-selling" book recommendations from acquaintances or friends who were in literary moods without checking for substance. I don't want that that happen to you, it will be bad for your valiant efforts to read more.

Wait before you buy that book recommendation.

Depending on how consistent your reading habit is, reading a sub-par book can really demotivate you from reading books altogether. That means, if you're serious about reading, you should be more selective in the books you read.

Book recommendations can come from many places but what this tip focuses on is getting into the habit of keeping a book recommendation list or a backlog of potential books you want to read.

Before you rush to buying a book, make sure it's one you actually would like to read. Of course, you can still be open to trying new books and throw some randomness to broaden your reading horizons.

If you want to keep up your reading momentum, respect your reading time by properly vetting the books you read.

Book Purgatory

I keep a list called, "Book Purgatory", any recommendations I receive or find from other means have the potential to go to Book Purgatory.

Book Purgatory is where book recommendations go to await judgment on whether they are worthy of your time and attention to read.

Not all recommendations go to this list, I have a first stage filter for books that do not appeal to me or that I have no interest in learning about or reading for a while.

I like to let books set in the list for a couple weeks or longer to minimize impulse purchases.

If a book makes it to the list, I'll read a couple of Goodreads and Amazon reviews. When reading reviews, I prefer to read lower rated reviews 1-2 star as opposed to 5-star reviews, as the critical ones are more honest to pick up on notable flaws of a book or more honest feedback. If the book is very long, I would probably find a short summary of the book to read before purchasing it because of the extra time invest to read the book.

I want to be proactive in filtering out books I would stop reading or find little value in. If I finish a book and it turns it my personal rating for the book is 5/10 or 2/5 stars then I haven't done my job in making sure the book is worth reading for me.

The more books you read and review the better you get at the process.

The Book Purgatory process was crucial in helping me have the momentum to exceed my reading goal for back to back years.

Tool of Choice: Wunderlist (to be updated - Wunderlist was discontinued)

Wunderlist is the main tool I use to manage my Book Purgatory. It is supported on all major devices and is very intuitive to use. I use it on my android and have a quick action widget that does a slide down input form that I can use to quickly take down a recommendation if I'm in the middle of a conversation with someone.

Wunderlist Book Purgatory

My Book Purgatory has grown to 391 recommendations over the course of 2 and a half years. If I filter it down to 200 books, I would have enough books I could read over the span of 3 -4 years without taking a single additional book recommendation for that time span.

Of course, I will be continuing to grow the list and filter it down as I purchase books from the list and mark them done.

When reviewing what books I would like to purchase, I can star a to-do in wunderlist to move it to the top to increase the chance I'll read it.

You can also add notes to a todo. I sometimes use it to keep track of the source of the book recommendation.

Alternative tools to keep track of your Book Purgatory

  • Google Keep
  • Todoist
  • Excel/Spreadsheets
  • Evernote
  • Notepad

There are only so many books you can read in a lifetime, so make sure the best of the best make it to your list.

Share this post if you know someone who needs to get their reading list together.

Let me know if you have any questions about the process. I will be posting a number of reading tips over the coming weeks. If you are interested in improving a certain aspect of your reading habit, contact me or comment and I may write a tip on it.

#book purgatory #reading list

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