How to Create a Reading Plan

Reading… how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

By now you know how much I love to read. I regularly share with you what I’m reading, books I’m planning on reading, and my reading goal to read 100 books this year. So it’s no surprise that books and I have a deep relationship, and we have for many years.

The crazy thing is that even though I love to read, it’s only been in the past few years where I have intentionally set out to plan what I will read. An even crazier fact is that I now read more as a busy mom then I did before, crazy right?

Next month I’ll share just exactly how I find the time to read, but this month for our first installation of Book Notes I wanted to share with you how I plan what to read by creating a reading plan and to encourage you to make a reading plan too.

Just like goal planning, when I plan what books to read I’m challenging myself to read with intention and purpose. I’m reading a mixture of books to entertain, inform, grow and challenge me. I also make it a point to read books that take me out of my comfort zone, sometimes even books that might seem controversial (nothing scandalous).

I choose to read books from many different genres and topics, including both traditional hardback, eBooks and this year I’m challenging myself to get on the audio-book bandwagon too.

So how do I actually plan what specific books I will read?

create a reading plan

1. Create Categories

I first sit down and create some general categories of books, for example this year I know that I want to read books on:

  • Marriage
  • Motherhood
  • Biblical Womanhood
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Biographies
  • Fiction
  • Writing
  • Food and Health
  • Information non-fiction (any books that don’t necessarily fit into one of the above categories)

I write each category at the top of a clean sheet of notebook paper so that way I have plenty of room to list plenty of titles below. For those of you that are techy, I’m sure there’s an app for this 🙂 or some may prefer to just create a word document.

By creating some general categories, I can easily arrange my book titles into a more organized format rather than just listing out a large list of titles. This helps me to make sure I am reading a balanced selection of books, but sometimes one category is more full than another and that’s OK.

2. Gather Recommended Books

I keep a running Amazon wishlist so that way when I come across a book review on another website that sounds interesting, I can easily click on the link and add it to the wishlist. As I’m learning more about GoodReads I can also do that there too. If I’m out and someone recommends a good book to me, I try to write it down in my planner. When I get the chance I can look it up and add it to my wishlist.IMG_4852

Now my Amazon wishlist is currently really long (it also includes book and gift ideas for the kids too), so I know that it might not be realistic to read every single book from that list this year. I scan through my wish list and write down the titles that I know I really want to read under the appropriate category.

3. Check the library

I am pretty fortunate to live in a city that has a really large and amazing library system, so I really take advantage of it and use it as much as possible.

As I’m adding books to my reading list from my wishlist, I immediately check my library’s website to see if they have a copy of it. If they do I am able to add it to my For Later Shelf on my library account so that way I can easily see it every time I log into the library’s website.

If I need to purchase a book I make a note of that on my reading list so I can plan to purchase a copy at some point.

4. Scan Your Bookshelves and your e-files


Since purging my own bookshelves a few years ago, I don’t have a tremendous amount of unread books but I do have some. I pull the ones that I want to read or re-read again off the shelf and write them down on my list. I try to keep those books together on a bookshelf so I can easily access them when I ready to read them.

Next I go through my Kindle Fire. I have a lot of books downloaded, some I’ve bought others I’ve downloaded when they were free. I spend some time sorting through those, deleting the ones I know I will never read, removing from my device the ones that I have already read (if it’s a freebie that I don’t want anymore I’ll delete it from my account), and uploading to my device the ones that I know I want to read this year. I write those titles down on my list, making a note that it’s on my Kindle.

I also have several eBooks saved as PDF files on my computer from Bundle of the Week purchases or when I have bought an eBook directly from the author’s site. They are already organized in files on my hard drive, so I spend a few minutes scanning through those writing down any titles that I need to read. (At some point I’ll share how to better organize all of those ebook files).

5. Make Reading Goals

By now I have a pretty hefty list of books but at least they are organized into categories. In the past I have then assigned books to different months but I’m choosing to not go that route this year.

Last year I was feeling pretty limited by putting my reading in a box and telling myself that I had to read certain books at a certain time. That might work for you, but I’ve decided not to do that to myself this year. Rather I’m assigning a certain number of books from various categories to read each month. I was really inspired from this post on Money Saving Mom of how Crystal is planning her reading this year.

For example:

  • January– Food and Health, Motherhood, Writing, and Fiction

My goal for January is to read at least one book in my Health and Food category, one motherhood book, one book on writing, and one fiction read. Most likely I will probably read more than that, but at least I am creating an attainable goal for me.

Your reading goal may look very different from mine. If your new to creating an intentional reading plan then just try to complete one book in one category, that way any other reading you accomplish will be the icing on the cake.

6. Track Your Plan

My type-A personality likes to type a nice list and place it in my planner or home management binder so that way I can cross off titles as I complete them (I LOVE to cross off things!), but you certainly don’t have to do that. For many a handwritten list is sufficient enough, or even just their own Amazon or GoodReads list.

Follow Victoria @ Creative Home Keeper’s board Books Read in 2013 on Pinterest.

Once I have read the book, if I haven’t already, I delete it from my wishlist. I then pin it to my Books Read in 2014 Pinterest board, but one of my other goals this year is to learn about and better utilize GoodReads to track my books so I’m still figuring that step out. I will say that it has been fun tracking my progress on Pinterest and seeing just how many books I have read (you can see what I read in 2013, as well as 2012).


This entire process usually takes me about an hour or two. I try and do it on an afternoon when the kids are occupied with my husband or with a grandparent.

I enjoy mapping out what books I would like to read sometime during the start of a New Year, but you can easily do this anytime. Maybe the thought of planning out books for the entire year seems daunting, then try to just do if for seasons like a summer reading list or a fall reading list.

I realize my organized planning system might not appeal to everyone 🙂 but I can honestly say that for the past few years of book planning like this, I have read a ton more books then I had been reading before.

Do you create a reading plan? How do you plan out what books you would like to read?

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  1. Wow, you are so organized! I’d like to read more and this seems like a great way to do that. I think I’ve had an Amazon wish list for at least 10 years, ha! I love it. I add all books or music I would like to buy on there. Perhaps eventually I will get more intentional about reading. There never seems to be enough time, sigh.

    1. Stephanie I may be organized in some areas, but there are plenty areas where things are in constant chaos! 🙂 Finding time to read is hard, I’m actually going to talk about that next time.

  2. Love your process! A lot of my books for this year were ones already in my house or my mom’s (actually at least a half of them probably came from her). Hoping the library will have the rest and if not I’ll interlibrary loan them. I’m hoping to track my books better on Pinterest this year. I too have a GoodReads account but have barely used it.

  3. Monica Leite says:

    I love that you planned out how to get organized. hee hee =) it’s one of my favorite things to do.

    I’ve always had a love for books. I haven’t been good about actually reading them but this year I’ve challenged myself to read 6 books. I wanted to keep the goal reachable so 6 is a good realistic number for me.

    I really the idea of reading books from different categories. I’m going to get planning my year out too.

    Thanks – monica

  4. Wow! What organization! I have never managed to stick my reading lists in the past, but never did more than write them down on paper

  5. Thanks for the tips and tricks! I’m so excited to start reading books for the year.

  6. Great tips – I have often thought of being similarly intentional with my reading list for the year, but it never actually happens. I tend to pick up books in the moment! Thank you for sharing this with Cozy Reading Spot!


  7. Nice ideas! Thanks for joining the Weekend Block Party! See you next Friday!

  8. When I saw this come through your enewsletter as part of “highlights from the blog” I knew I had to click through and read. I get excited about books to read but often find that I get overwhelmed with reviews, personal spiritual growth books, classics, etc. this is super helpful and I am going to create a list around categories as opposed to months. Can I keep you posted (for accountability on my part?!) and the Pinterest board idea? *STAR*!!!!

    Well done!

    1. So glad this helped Cristina! And I would love to continue to hear what you’re reading and into!!! 🙂

  9. Pingback: The Monday after #nosocialmediasunday | Filling my Prayer Closet
  10. Yeah I love to read, but I just can’t seem to MAKE the time! I know it is all about intention, but for me it is also follow through.

    1. Alyssa I hear you, different seasons of life make it super hard, you just have to make the best with the time you have and sometimes that means not getting a chance to read. This summer when I was super nauseous from this pregnancy I hardly read a thing and even now I’m slowly getting back into a reading routine. The other hard thing is that now I am so exhausted at night which was my prime reading time, I can barely get my eyes to focus on the page! 🙂

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