Fluctuating bouts of reading and not reading have long been a problem of mine. I have often found that life simply got in the way of reading (for pleasure at least). There are stages where I may take three months just to read a single book, and others where it takes one week to read three books. It’s meant that I go through stages where my TBR piles up and leaves me feeling daunted by the prospect of getting through the stack of tomes in front of me, or alternately spending the bulk of my paycheque on books that will inevitably end up on the heap after my reading spurt stops.
Over time, and certainly since my studying days, I have found it a little easier to make the flow of my reading a little more uniform, but this didn’t necessarily lead to an increase in my overall reading. If I was to settle down to something like The Satanic Verses then it may take me, through the course of reading 30-50 pages a day and with weekends often being a disappointing anomaly, two or more weeks to get through a wonderful, if convoluted, book. I have tried a variety of different things to improve my reading habits and have come to varying degrees of success with each of them. Here are some of my favourites.
Read more than one book at a time
This one tends to split opinion, as a lot of people don’t feel that theyt can concentrate on more than one book at a given time. My response to them is normally “Do you only ever watch one TV series at a ime?” If they respond that they do and have difficulty following a few different narratives simultaneously then they probably have a point – reading more than one book at a time may not be much good for them.
It was a concept with which I struggled at first. While I was able to follow the different plots simultaneously and keep track of who’s who in which book, I felt a pang of disloyalty to my ‘main’ book. Whenever I am reading more than one book at a time (I’m currently reading 3) I will always have one predominant book that I consider my main read. Sometimes the secondary gets promoted once the main one is finished, other times it lingers in the background never quite elevated to the state of primary reading material.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to do this is to have a secondary book on your phone using an app on your phone or an e-reader such as the Kindle. My Kindle very rarely ever leaves my back pocket when I’m out and about, and if I have left it it’s backed up on my phone which I always carry with me (who doesn’t?). This means that in those situations where you are in long queues, waiting rooms or grabbing a coffee on your own, you have the company of your secondary book and can squeeze in a chapter or two.
Sure. it’s not for everyone, but try it first by re-reading an old favourite, or a simpler book, or a book of short stories. It’s a really great, time efficient way of reading more.
This one is subjective, but having my battles with demons in the past, I’ve often found myself without the motivation to read. Whether it’s the required reading of a university course, the pull of the beer garden, or the ease of just flicking the TV on, there are occasions where I quite simply don’t feel like reading. These are now becoming fewer and further between I am glad to say but I feel that a large part of that is down to the motivations that I find. There are a great deal of ways to motivate yourself to read more (or better, but that’s an article for another week) if you only look to find them.
This blog has been a huge motivator for me for example. As I am determined to put out a pairing every fortnight, I need to read at least one book every fortnight and still have time to review it. It’s been refreshing to have deadlines to read to, but even more so when it’s books I get to choose to read.
Lists or challenges I mentioned in an earlier article, are another great way to encourage you to read more. If you write down what you want to read, and set a challenge for yourself to read those books, which chances are will be more varied than your norm, then it sets in motion a great urge to get on and read them. Book clubs, similarly, encourage you to read to a deadline in anticipation of witty and academic discussions at the local library or pub.
List Challenges is another great site for motivation. Admittedly, it may only serve to increase your TBR pile, but it holds an excellent, interactive, database of thousands of book, film, food and life lists compiled either by the LC community or taken from better know, more respected outlets such as the BBC. It’s great to see your progress going up and up in those ‘1001 Books You Need To Read Before You Die’ lists!
Okay, it’s not technically reading more is it? Well, I would argue it is. It’s an excellent way to really boost your reading numbers, without it really taking all that much effort.
This is certainly the newest way of reading more that I have delved into and it’s undeniably taken some getting used to. I haven’t ‘read’ anything new on it as yet, but I have gone back over some old favourites, including the Harry Potter series, 1984, and currently Trainspotting. It’s been a wonderful way to revisit these books I may never have seen myself having time to go back over without putting an extra burden upon my proper ‘reading’ time. They’re great in the car, while walking or even just doing odd jobs around the house. They’re a real boredom buster.
I can’t wait to go on to listen to some new books and that’s where I can’t applaud Audible enough. Their one month subscription got me hooked, and it becomes cheap and easy to build your library. I always have a listen to the samples before actually purchasing the audiobook though as you need to enjoy the voice of the narrator, other wise it becomes something of a sludge. It’s well worth giving the free trial a go as it is easy to cancel if and when you decide to.
Take a well-earned break
This one may sound counter-intuitive to begin with but it’s actually the most sensible one on the list. It’s probably a fairly common observation that when people go on relaxing holidays – either at home or abroad – they tend to read more. Okay, this may not be the case if you go on a city break where you are walking around all day, but if you are spending time on the beach, at a pool, or even just in the countryside, chances are you will go through more books.
Being switched off from the world is a glaring gateway into relaxation and immersion in a new world where characters jump out of the page and into your imagination. It allows you to forget more readily the upcoming workloads and deadlines and focus solely on enjoying what you are reading. My mum, for example, is not an avid reader. She will much more eagerly flick through Facebook, or browse Amazon than sit and read a book. That is, until she gets on holiday. There, she will go through at least a couple of books, possibly more when she is on a true, poolside holiday.
Shutting off the outside world is, in my opinion, a skill which is somewhat difficult to obtain but utterly invaluable once mastered. This not purely being for the purpose of reading more of course, it is vital to your mental, physical and emotional health. Reading just emphasises these benefits.
Hopefully, you will have found something here that might work for you, improve your ‘read’ list on GoodReads, and generally make you a more rounded reader. Sorry that it might cost you a bit more in books though!
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