I Blame My Mom
In The Weeds

A Different Kind of Summer Reading Challenge

When I was a little girl, I loved going to the library in the summertime. (I actually loved going anytime, but I especially loved it in the summertime when I had days and days of uninterrupted hours ahead of me for reading.) My mom would take my sister and I every week, and we'd peruse the stacks . . . each of us piling back into the car with the maximum number of books we were allowed to check out.

That stack of books was like heaven to me! So many possibilities. . . 

Kym and Diane

I still love that summer-reading-going-to-the-library feeling. I read differently in the summer than I do during the rest of the year. Generally, I read lighter fare during the summer (not so much knife-twisting in the heart). More mysteries. Memoirs and "beach reads." Usually some big ol' brick of a storytelling epic. I love it . . . the freedom of just reading whatever happens to strike my fancy at the moment. (That's actually how I read, generally, all the time. But in the summer it feels different . . . MORE somehow.) 

I know many of you look forward to Mary's fun and most excellent Summer Book Bingo challenge each year. Although I don't participate in Book Bingo myself, I love to watch from the sidelines -- seeing you put together your cards, plan out your summer reading, and then calling BINGO all summer long. I prefer to think of myself as . . . your cheerleader . . . as you fill up your Bingo cards. (You can read all about Mary's bingo challenge - and print out your card - on Mary's blog here.) Mary has a great set of simple rules for Book Bingo, basically reminding everyone that it's just for fun -- that participants get to choose their own level of "challenge" and determine the relevance of book-to-square, for example. She has developed a Bingo card generator filled with 88 different book categories -- so there really is something for everyone in these cards. Do go check it out! It's fun to participate -- AND it's fun to watch from the sidelines, too.

In the spirit of summer reading, coupled with my post from yesterday about arbitrary rules, I thought it might very . . . cheerleader-y . . . for me to challenge you to think about your own arbitrary rules for reading before you launch into summer reading or the Book Bingo challenge. (Because reading . . .  is an area FRAUGHT with arbitrary rules.) For example, I don't know how many people have looked at me with horror . . . when they find out I sometimes read the endings first, before finishing a book. But . . . it's really just an arbitrary rule that you must read books in a linear fashion, with never-any-peeking at the ending. There are no Book Police! Unless we're reading for some formal or work-related purpose, we're reading for pleasure. For the joy in the words or the story or the characters. Other than trying to fill your Bingo card, reading is not a competition or a contest. We're just readers. Reading for enjoyment.

So I offer this challenge to you as you plan out your summer reading: Think about any arbitrary reading rules you may be harboring (and I'll bet you have some). Do you force yourself to finish any book you begin? How do you feel about skimming? Do you think that reading only "counts" if you're reading words-on-a-page (rather than having them read to you in an audiobook)? Are you an I-can-read-only-one-book-at-a-time reader? There are so many arbitrary rules we come up with for ourselves! Think about what yours might be. And let them go!

Gretchen Rubin, who regularly advocates for more reading as a strategy in her pursuit of happiness, has put together a few tips for adding more reading to your life. I think they're excellent, and worth sharing.

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It's nearly time for summer reading, friends!
Get your Bingo card ready.
Or not.
Identify - and challenge - your own arbitrary reading rules.

And let's savor those big stacks of heavenly books, filled with possibility!


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Last night, I wrote each of the categories on index cards and then I looked at my book shelf, my Kindle, and my For Later Shelf on the library site. I penciled in 2-4 titles on each card and I let myself be generous in the interpretation of the category. Mary has also said we get to interpret the squares so I am going to embrace that this summer. This is a great reminder - reading is not supposed to be a chore. Thanks!


One of the things I love about blogland is connecting with so many readers! Like you, I do not participate in Book Bingo - I like the idea, but it is too much like "work" or a "class" for me (and reading should be fun). But, I love being on the sidelines and getting ideas for books that I may want to read. As a kid I, too, loved going to the library and I was the kid in school who before Christmas or Easter vacations would go to the school library and carry home an armful (I walked to and from school) of books. I am so happy my reading mojo has returned and that my library is literally minutes from my house.
PS I used to be one of those people who "had to" finish a book once I started. I gave that practice up a number of years ago - too many books and too little time to waste on something not enjoyable! I do like Gretchen's "rules."

kathy b

I could motivate myself with a bingo card! My friend karen and I did a lot of bingo cards last covid winter. When some football game was on that we didn't care for, I'd make us each a card. Same items. Different squares. And we made them fun,
IE: cross off if you caught the cable camera in your view


OMG, I am probably #1 at #6!! Haha. Lately, I can barely see my clock on the night table.


YES to all of this! Read what you love, read what you want, read the ending first (I used to do that ALL the time but reading on a Kindle makes that trickier!) just READ.


What a great Cheerleader Post - thank you! I have no arbitrary rules about the books I read, and just two for reading overall - one is that I try to read for at least 30 minutes every day and the other is that I MUST document every book I finish in my journal. I LOVE to read the ending before I get there and I have ZERO qualms about abandoning a book - no matter how far along I am. I recently started buying books so I could write in them and Kindle highlights is a close second and depending on the book an easy tie for the highlight feature. Also, I will read ANYthing that a friend recommends to me. I might not finish it, or put it high on my list, but I will always at least consider it. NO genres out of bounds (perhaps that is an arbitrary rule, but it doesn't feel that way!)


I like to create the bingo card but I know going in that I am never going to cover all or even bingo as I get distracted. This year I used the generator to create my own card. I spent a fun 2 hours or so over 2 weekend creating a spreadsheet with each square and 2 or 3 options mostly from my piles of books. They are all books I want to read so I'm hoping to get some read and donated to a newer used bookstore a town over.


I used to be adamant that I had to finish whatever I started reading. Yeah, not so much now.

I do believe there is a difference between reading and listening to an audio book. Both are fine. But, LISTENING is not reading. Different skill set. (For the record, I don't do audio books. I can't keep focused. My mind drifts too much.)

I skim.

I don't think my summer reading is much different from my other season reading. If it is it is only because "lighter" reading seems to come out more in bookstores in the summer time.

Guess that's about all.


I don't have arbitrary reading rules. I often abandon books I don't like. Now and then I read the ending, especially if I can't figure out what is going on. I usually have three books going at a time, one audio, one for casual reading, and a third that I call a study book that requires concentration. I think there is some research that shows audio books require different processes in the brain which makes sense to me. I have a friend who used to joke about abandoning a book in this way. "You only have to read into a book as many pages as your age before abandoning it. After age fifty you get to start subtracting - one page subtracted for every year after fifty. " I like to watch Summer Book Bingo and everyone's interpretation of categories but I probably won't read that many books during the summer as I like to savor and take my time. I posted today about my summer reading list being a throw-back to the years when I taught school.


I read the first page of a book I am considering to see if it “grabs” me. And therefore very rarely abandon a book (but probably miss out on some fabulous reads). When I was young I read everything. Now I am more picky. I have no problems skimming. First did that with Huckleberry Finn until I got used to the regional accent. Then I went back and read the parts that I had skipped. Didn’t want to miss a word. I still remember that book as the most enthralling of my childhood. I only read the end first when I don’t want to finish a book. The plot may have interested me but not the writer’s style, for instance. If I like an author I will mow my way through all of their works whether they are all worthy reads or not. I favor specific genres and rarely stray. Luckily that covers a wide enough territory. My iPad time has cut into my reading time and that is really too bad. Although I do read more in summer.


Oh I struggle with #2. I just frustrate myself by yelling at the narrator since I do the majority of my reading via audio. Permission taken! Summer bingo is a big motivator for me - even though I usually average one bingo! ;-) Love this post xo


I have definitely challenged and done away with rules about my reading in the past couple of years. I used to be the kind of reader who felt compelled to finish any book I've started. I'll still finish a book I'm not enjoying if I'm almost done, but if I've just started and I don't like it, I have no problems DNF-ing it. I've also greatly expanded how I read. Years ago it only really felt like reading to me if I had a physical book in my hands, but these days I'm much more likely to read an ebook or listen to an audiobook than to pick up a paper book.

Also, I got such good memories reading about your summers at the library as a kid -- that was totally me, too! Summer was time to read all for fun (I read for pleasure during the school year, too, but not as much because I had reading to do for class).


For me the Book Bingo community is a great place to find more books I'd like to read. I don't read by rules or even by the categories of BB. It isn't hard to fit a book you want to read into a square on the card as Mary has honed the categories to fit the types of books we like to read. I enjoy being creative with a title to fit it into a slot. I'm with you that there are NO rules say you HAVE to finish a book. I do a lot of research and follow readers who review the type of books I like to read. Plus many titles from award lists are a good place to pick up new titles. But, if a book doesn't speak to me right away I have no qualms to abandon it. There isn't a hard fast rule that I not read the last page of a book, but I have had too many books ruined by knowing what happens in the end. I like the mystery of a book to reveal its story page by page. For me, that is the joy of reading. Nothing about reading should be fraught! That is very true. Thanks for being our cheerleader!


I've only recently learned to let go of my arbitrary reading rules. I think it was you who told me something along the lines of Life is too short to finish a book that feels meh to me. (my nutshell version--not putting words in your mouth...) Lots has shifted in my heart these past two years, with crises for my daughter, my father, and now my brother. And those experiences have introduced me to what matters, to joy, to living more. And so I read differently these days. I'm a slightly slower reader than a lot of folks in this community, and with a young and present family at home, I don't do as much audio as I might during another season of my life. So I've tried to let go of the arbitrariness of counting and 'keeping up'. (So silly, but true!) I do still keep a paper journal of titles and ratings, but I stopped with the numbers. I've also accepted that I read a fraction of the books in spring + fall as I do in summer or winter...and that's okay!
Thank you for this post. And I love the picture of you and your sis :) xo

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