Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to guest post on my friend Val’s blog in her Fresh Start series. I wrote all about how I became a reader and how the thought of reading used to be so incredibly boring to me. Like stare-at-one-page-for-30-minutes-like-I-did-for-my-high-school-homework boring. It wasn’t until later in life that I became an avid reader, and I am a different person because of it. A better person. In fact, I’m a better wife, a stronger believer, a more informed citizen, a better manager of my time, a more focused business woman, an inspired photographer, a healthier person, and a more confident individual. All because of the books I’ve read!

Tips to help you become a Reader

1. Only select books that come recommended by a trusted source. (Need a few recommendations? Check out my Pinterest Pages: Books on Life + FaithBusiness, and Enjoyment. To follow along with my current reads, follow my Instagram hashtag #nancyrayreads)

2. Choose a balance of books that touch on every aspect of life:

Social Relationships

This allows me to mix it up and really stay sharpened as a person. I think you’re the best reader when you’re a well-rounded reader.

3. Read a little every day (I read at least 10-15 pages/day, during my morning routine. I occasionally read in the evenings, but usually I’m too sleepy!)

4. Read one book at a time (My husband disagrees on this one! I like the feeling of accomplishment it brings, and the focus it allows. But when it comes down to it, do what works for you.)


The first thing I do at the beginning of the year is set a goal for how many books I want to read. In 2014, my goal is to read 20 books. Then I create a list of  more-than-enough books to choose from. That way, I can have a variety of books to choose from throughout the year. I typically compile this list during the previous year through various recommendations I hear from friends, blogs, etc. Here is my booklist for 2014!

Nancy Ray Reads : 2014 Book List

– Descending into Greatness
Orphan Justice
Crash the Chatterbox
– Ordering Your Private World 

Rich Dad Poor Dad
Smart Money Smart Kids
– The Soul of Money

– Necessary Endings
Insanely Simple
Time Traps
Paid to Speak

Marriage and Family Relationships
Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After
Notes from a Blue Bike

Social Relationships: Book Clubs and Small Group readings
– Holy Spirit : An Introduction

Personal + Intellectual Development
– Boundaries for Leaders
Half Time: Moving from success to significance
The One Thing
Who Moved My Cheese?

Health (Physical Well-Being)
– Born to Run
The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Rest and Relaxation (Physical Well-Being)
– The Storyteller
The Glass Castle
– Labor Day

Want to read 2013’s Book ListClick here!

I’m considering signing up for Goodreads, to keep all of my book recommendations in one place. Do you have any thoughts on Goodreads if you use it? Where do you find your best book recommendations? I’d love to hear!

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[…] I’ve found great titles for my own list through Nancy Ray’s yearly reading lists (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017) and these posts by Valerie […]

[…] mind wanders elsewhere whenever I find myself within the pages of a book. After reading posts from Nancy and Valerie last year, I am determined to change that because I think there is so much growth to […]

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[…] in Wunderlist, and I add to it whenever I hear a good book recommendation from a friend. I create a yearly book list at the beginning of each year, in hopes of reaching my reading goals and keeping a well balanced […]

Love, love, love Goodreads! You should definitely sign up — I would love to follow you :)

[…] Color 5. Sharpness – Plan your images based on what you want to sell. – I have a new book added to my 2014 list: The Soul of Money. Can't wait to read it! – It's important to use money as a conduit to […]

Thanks Nancy! I stumbled upon Dave Ramsey thanks to you and have since been reading a lot of books that I first heard about through you sharing on Instagram, like The Martha Rules.

It’s wonderful that you are sharing your recs- I have really enjoyed all that I’ve read and first heard about through you posting!

I do have a Goodreads account, but I’ve never used it much – I think I was paralyzed by wanting to catalog all of the books I’ve ever read, even though that’s obviously not a requirement! My best book recommendations come from people whose taste I respect, including yourself (my sister, Dad, and brother-in-law literary agent are all good, too!). I actually get the majority of my others from O Magazine – they have LOTS of book reviews every month, and they’re usually spot on! I keep all of the books I want to read in a note on my phone, and for the last two years I’ve also kept notes for the books I’ve read each year. 100% agree that reading changes who you are in amazing ways – one of the things I am most grateful to my parents for is that they fostered a deep love of reading in me from a young age!

I love goodreads. It is not just helpful to keep track of what you’ve read, but you can add books to your “want to read shelf” and that feature has been great for me. (before GoodReads, I had an ongoing list on a couple index cards in my purse1) Once you put some books on there, you will be able to explore similar genres, and other titles by the authors as well. I LOVE to read, and often find my next book via a friend’s review. The Glass Castle is wonderfully heartbreaking. I didn’t even realize it was a memoir until I was halfway through, so moving. Labor Day was a wonderful quick read, and bonus, the movie is out now! (that is always my favorite thing to do, read the book, then watch the movie.) I just finished The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. So good. I am definitely trying to mix more non-fiction in this year as well. Happy reading!

I forgot to mention, I just finished a book called Uncovered by Susie Davis. It’s on love, sex and marriage. I loved it!!

I haven’t tried Good Reads yet but it sounds great!! Right now, I just have mine divided up into different categories in my Amazon wish list. I like the idea of setting an amount of books to read each year and listing what those will be. I have so many in my wish I think sometimes it paralyzes me a little. Having a plan might keep me better on track!

Your book recommends are always the best, love how you keep the balance! Glad you posted your 2014 reading list!

The Glass Castle is Wonderful! I also recommend reading her second book, Half Broke Horses. It really rounds out the story created in the first memoir.

I was a lit major in college, so I’m all about fiction. I’ve loved reading since I was a little girl and I agree with you – it’s changed my life!

And thanks to you, Margin in next on my list. Thanks for sharing!

I use Goodreads and LOVE it. It’s a great way to keep track of what you read/want to read and browse recommendations both from friends and the ones that are generated for you.

I love Goodreads! It helps me so much to know what my friends have thought of a book and overall how many stars its received! I don’t read a book before checking it on Goodreads. When you shared your recommendations I was hoping you were sharing a Goodreads link so I’d love to see your recommendations on there!

I love Goodreads! I use it to make book suggestions to my students (I teach High School English) all the time. I like that I can build my personal bookshelf and place it on my blog too.

I have amassed a pretty big library, so if I keep a record of the books I already own in Goodreads, it helps me to avoid buying duplicate copies.

I’m still very much in the process of building my profile, but it’s on my list!

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