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Shelf Life – Prep Your To-Be-Read Pile

Shelf Life – Prep Your To-Be-Read Pile

Resources to build your book list for 2017.

Consider me one of those stereotypical New Year’s resolution people. I love to set three or four major goals for myself and see if I’m up to the challenge of accomplishing each feat. This will be my fourth straight year setting my favorite resolution: read more.

I’ve held myself accountable by remembering the wise words of one of my favorite authors, Stephen King: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Since I kinda write for a living, I think it’s important to read anything I can get my hands on: not just magazines, but great fiction, nonfiction, blogs, articles, anything. It’s essential to my growth as a writer and as an editor — after all, if I don’t know what good writing looks like, how can I bring it out in our writers?

Beyond that, though, reading has brought me joy on so many levels throughout my life. It’s good for the brain, it’s good for the imagination, it’s good to know how to entertain oneself and get lost in another world, and it’s good to get away from the TV. But sometimes we need a push, and setting a goal is good pressure to pick up a book.

My 2017 goal? Read 40 books.

It helps to have some resources to plan out what books I’m going to read so that I always have a pile to pick from. Here are some of my favorite online resources for staying up-to-date on my hunt for good books. – A great resource for finding articles about book genres or topics. You’ll find lists of great unknown mysteries, best books set in certain time periods, etc. They’ve also got book news so you can stay fresh on the next best book.

Book of the Month Club – This is the most anticipated gift on my Christmas list this year. You subscribe to BOTM, and each month you can choose one of five books selected by rotating judges. It’s $15 a month and shipping is free — most of these books seem to be hardback, so it’s kind of a deal. Don’t like one of the five books offered? You can skip a month. There are also great reviews and book articles on the website.

NPR’s Book Concierge – Each year, National Public Radio compiles a few hundred books that NPR staff and critics loved. This is a really user-friendly service, as you can search by genre (mysteries, family stories, music, etc.) but also by other great categories, like book club ideas, eye-opening reads, tales from around the world, and more. 2016’s list should be out soon, but they also host all their picks going back to 2008. It’s a great way to catch up on the best fiction you missed over the last few years.

Staff picks

The COMO Living team also suggested their favorite books to inspire your new year.

Megan Whitehead’s Must-Read:
“Almost Famous Women”
by Megan Mayhew Bergman
This book, while not outwardly appearing to be an inspirational one, gave me a much needed kick in the pants. These stories of women who were on the cusp of fame or reaching their dreams helped push me to follow my own dreams.


Brenna McDermott’s Must-Read:
“I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai
Malala’s story is nothing short of miraculous. Persecuted by the Taliban for refusing to quit school, Malala is now a world leader in the efforts to provide education for every woman around the world.


Matt Patston’s Must-Read:
“Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon” by Ed Caesar
I’m not a runner, but I am a big fan of British journalist Ed Caesar. He’s written an outstanding book about distance running, East Africa, and pushing yourself to try the impossible.




J.J. Carlson’s Must-Reads:
“Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins
Tony’s way of using the power of words to motivate has been immensely successful for me. My immediate response to some of his core concepts is: “Yes! I can get behind that and take action because of it.”

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