Reading Lists: For Past and Future Creative Inspiration

Happiness largely comes from having something to look forward to. Keeping track of books I want to read in the future is something I wish I would have done much sooner in life.

As someone who has studied bibliotherapy, I have learned the amount of planning I put into my reading is directly proportional to the amount of inspiration I get out of it. 

Don't Let a Book Pass You By!

Maybe you can relate to this. Someone recommends a book to you. You overlook it or forget it and then come across the book years later. Then you think - why didn’t I read this sooner?! (This just happened to me with Patti Smith’s book Just Kids  - recommended to me by at least twenty random people. Until I got the hint!)

Of course, some people are happy to read casually and pick up a book here and there. For me? It’s the closest I’ll come to an Olympic sport. I desire to keep better track of what I have read, the notes and insights coming out of the experience, and the direction I’m going next with my reading.

Reading Lists and Reading Logs

Reading lists aren't just for kids! Maybe you were asked to create a reading log at an earlier stage in your life before you knew yourself as a reader. For some it went like this - writing down what you had supposedly read in an attempt to prove it to someone else or receive a grade, thus missing the point of falling in love with reading. 

I still use reading logs in my teaching practice, but I deeply wish to avoid the above scenario. Therefore, I’ve recently been thinking through how to make the process streamlined for kids and adults - and make it more about looking forward to reading in the future while also keeping track of the past.

Of course, keeping track of the past has to do with looking for patterns in your reading. Finding quick ways to assess your enjoyment or practical use of the books being read can aid you with future creative endeavors (such as writing your own books or songs).

Reading Trackers: How Complicated Do They Need to Be?

When I first started keeping track of my reading, I used a Google Doc. Slowly, I realized I wanted more tables, columns, and organization. Maybe even a place to give the books a rating? (It’s clearly one area where I desire to create a reusable printable for myself and then offer it as a PDF for others.)

One key component to my organizer? Keeping a “Books to Read” list as the focus.

Having a list like this literally leaves me excited to wake up each day, start each year over, and live my best life.  If the internet ever crashed and everything was lost in my Google Docs, this is probably the item I would miss the most. That’s why I want to take it offline as a printable.

Looking Forward: Time For Some Books!

If you are interested, here’s a list of books I’m deeply looking forward to reading. Some of them are more obscure than others. Let me know if you spot one of them that should rise to the top of the list!

  1. Taboo Tunes: A History of Banned Bands and Censored Songs by Peter Blecha

  2. Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News by Kevin Young

  3. Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong

  4. Why We Do What We Do by Edward Deci

  5. Punished by Rewards by Alfie Khon

  6. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

  7. Maverick by Ricardo Semler

  8. Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh and Melissa Sweet

  9. Happiness: A History by Darrin M. McMaHoon

  10. The Substance of Style by Virginia Postrel

  11. Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination by Daniel Boorstin

  12. The Image in the Age of Pseudo-Reality by Daniel Boorstin

  13. Ingredient by Ali Bouzari

  14. Greatness: Who Creates History and Why by Dean Simonton

  15. The Innovators: Leonardo da Vinci, Franklin, Einstein, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

  16. The Michelangelo Method by Kenneth Schuman and Ronald Paxton

  17. The Van Gogh Blues by Eric Maisel

  18. Creativity in Context by Teresa Amabile

  19. Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham

  20. Timelines of Everything by DK Smithsonian

  21. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

  22. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

  23. The Starving Artist’s Way by Nava Lubelski

  24. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

  25. Art and Intimacy: How the Arts Began by Ellen Dissanayke

  26. The Soul Food Cafe by Heather Blackey

Let me know what you think!

Do you have a “Books to Read” list? How do you organize it?

Based on the common themes you spot in my reading, do you have additional recommendations?



8 Replies to “Reading Lists: For Past and Future Creative Inspiration”

  1. As you know, I’m an insane book worm. The only thing better than reading is planning what I’m going to read! My tracker is nothing more than the Notes section of my iPad. Each year, I upload those books to a larger Excel spreadsheet. Just name & author – nothing fancy.

    In terms of planning, I keep lists in a number of ways – either as tagged books in my Libby app, whishlist on Kindle, as well as notes and photos whenever I see a book in a shop or someone recommends one. For example, I just screen shorted your list above.

    Oddly, I just read Pressfield’s “The War of Art” and was surprised to see that it was analogous to my recent “Working Muse Project.”

    1. Nice! You sound more organized than me – should’ve written this post (ha). The notes app has been my go-to lately because I have no time to sit at a computer! A screen shot of my list is flattering! I hope you enjoy the books. Some are obscure but I’m really looking forward to them. Can’t wait to check out Pressfield’s War of Art!

  2. we’re very lucky to have a good friend who owns a used book store right in the neighborhood. i don’t usually go in there but just read what kristi recommends when mrs. smidlap visits over there. she kinda curates my lists and we usually have a small stack lying around in case i start one and don’t enjoy it. i’ve read a lot of english spy novels this year by ken follett and john le carre. some are classics and i’ve learned a lot of history from them from the cold war era to southeast asia in the 70’s.

    just kids was a good book.

    1. If I had a friend with a book store I’d probably be quite annoying to them:) I love the idea of someone knowing me well and curating lists for me if I really trusted them. Otherwise when it comes to books (and movies) I almost spend more time finding them and committing to them than I do reading the actual books! I like the idea of real history being in spy novels. Will have to check it out!

  3. Have you heard of Goodreads? It’s an awesome way to track your reading (and to-read) list. I like to go back and look at my stats on how many books/pages I’ve read each year. Couldn’t recommend it enough!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I have heard of it but never looked into it before. Will take a look one of these days.

  4. I love this and totally can relate! I keep a books to be read list in my phone, normally have 120 books on there. Rule is I pick the top 10 books on the list. Normally takes me 6+ months to get to the books and its a fun surprise to see what I put on there months earlier. Also use the Good Reads app for tracking all the books I read – great app as you can also rate the books.

    1. Thank you for your input Kelli and for visiting the blog! Lately, I like the idea of moving my favorites or top 10s to the top and tackling them first. As of now, I usually go with the books that are “easiest” to find, but then some really good ones just stay far down the list. Having a random top 10 and finding books I put on there months ago sounds kind of fun too. There’s time for all kinds of different approaches!

      I keep hearing about the Good Reads app. I like the idea of being able to follow or find the reading lists of people I respect. That sounds like a great way to find more books! Let alone keep track of my own reading!

Comments are closed.