Creating My Own DIY Autumn Reading Program

This year was the first time I joined our library’s adult summer reading program. Reading programs have gotten so cool since I was a kid – when I was in grade school, we’d get a brightly colored paper apple or something and we’d write our name and the book’s name on it and then we’d slowly paper the walls of the children’s section with them all summer.

I did once win 117 pieces of bubble gum at the end of a summer reading program, so that was pretty good, but other than that, I think the new kinds of programs are so neat: I got “points” in an online system whenever I read and reviewed a book, as well as when I tried out features of the library. Since the theme this year was “Build a Better World,” you could also get points for recycling, using reusable bags at the grocery store, and walking to work – it was lovely.

However, it ended on August 1st, and as work ramps up for me, I’m having a tough time getting motivated to keep reading. When I’m in a summer reading program, I persist through books that I am not super excited about, on the off chance that the ending is good and so that I get to get my points. I want that feeling again, since for the past few weeks I’ve been starting and stopping a lot of books.

So I’ve developed my own Autumn reading program. It runs until Thanksgiving, and while it doesn’t have a cool app for my phone that gives me points, it does do a few things:

I have to finish the book to make it count. This doesn’t mean I won’t set down books, but it does me that I’ll either quickly judge a book and decide to move on, or I will persist through to the end.

Every 5 books, I get a prize. I’m still working out the prizes, but instead of being entered for a raffle at the end of the summer, I’ll have guaranteed rewards for each set of 5 books I reach. Some possible options include a trip to my favorite nature preserve, an afternoon nap, or a new smoothie blender, because these are all things I put off doing/buying and would feel better about if I had a special occasion to get them.

I get my friends involved. I’m going to bug other readerly types I know to do this with me, which works on two levels. One, other people feel motivated to read a lot, and two, I have an easy, exciting question to ask them when otherwise we’d resort to sorta boring small talk. I love getting to talk to other people about what they are reading, and I never like bringing it up just to hear “Oh, I haven’t had any time for reading lately.”

I will figure out ways to make programming happen. I am starting to look at local community arts centers to see what shows are coming to the area this Fall so that I can read the book versions before I get tickets to see the little theater version. Hometown shows are often no Broadway affair, but it gets me out of the house and it is more interesting to see a stage interpretation when I’m already somewhat familiar with the story.

I’ll still get to stop eventually. As much as I miss the summer program, it was good to have an end date and get a break from intense reading focus. After all, there are other fun things to do with my time, be they listening to podcasts, cleaning my home, or getting out to exercise occasionally. It’s nice to see yourself as in a sprint, pushing yourself, but it is equally nice to relax a little afterwards.

An Incomplete List of Extra Challenges for the Autumn Reading Program:

– Drink a cup of hot cider while reading

– Make pumpkin pancakes and have a lazy morning reading

– Rake some leaves while listening to an audio book

– Attend a library event this Fall

– Attend an indy bookstore event this Fall

– Carve a literary themed pumpkin

– Dress up for Halloween as a storybook character of some kind

– Host a bonfire and stay up late talking about books

– Read in flannel pajamas

– Roast pumpkin seeds and eat them like popcorn… while reading.

Find details for our favorite reading challenge, Read Harder, here. 

Do you like podcasts like This American Life, RadioLab, or Planet Money? Annotated is kinda like those, but for books. Go here to find out more, or click the image below:
Laura Marie: Laura Marie is a writer and teacher in Ohio. She reads one or two audiobooks every week, loves falling into a good cooking memoir, and debates feasibility of tech from sci-fi books with her husband.