How do you read so many books?! How can I read more books too?
These are the most popular questions I have gotten since I started this blog mid-2016. However, the truth is before May 2016, I was reading an average of 4 books a year. Not that I was keeping track.
So, how did I go from that to reading 70 books in an 8 month period?!
I will be sharing a few tricks that helped me fall back in love with reading, and I think they can be helpful to anyone who has made a resolution to read more books this year.
Read on your Smartphone
I will be the first to tell you that eBooks are not real books; but they can be very effective tools when you have been out of practise for a long time or just trying to cultivate a habit of reading.
You know you’ll reach for your phone when you get a little downtime, i.e. standing in line for the bus, waiting for a friend or just as a security blanket in a strange place. Now instead of losing yourself on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, read a chapter of that new book.
I admit that reading on your phone for extended periods can be harmful to your body, but you can minimize the danger by dimming your screen or just reading in night mode.
Set a Daily Reading Goal
This takes away the intimidation of reading big books. Rather than just saying, “I’ll read one book per week”, Why not be a little more specific and say 3 chapters a day or 30 pages a day? or just commit a specific amount of time to reading every day.
That 40 minutes downtime on the bus (this is why I love Lagos BRT by the way). The 30 minutes during your lunch break could be put to better use; Instead of catching up on office gossip, experience a combination of 2 of the greatest pleasures every known to man.
Read Before Bed
Research has shown that reading before bed is a great way to de-stress and wind down after a hectic day. It is also easier to make reading a habit when you associate it with things you already enjoy doing.
One thing: avoid the phone or eReader if you really plan on sleeping. A 2015 survey found that participants that used eReaders within 1 hr of their bedtime, “Took longer to fall asleep, had reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock, reduced next-morning alertness than when reading a paper book.”
Name Yourself Book Bosomed
Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott coined the phrase BOOK-BOSOMED to describe someone who carries a book at all times. The phrase first appears in Scott’s celebrated 1805 poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel.
Taking your current read wherever you go serves as a visual reminder of your goal. Put it in your bag, take it to work, school, wherever. Bring it out of your bag, put it on your desk, on your coffee table, your nightstand.
Doing this makes sure that when you have a little free time on your hands, you instantly remember you have a beautiful book waiting to be read.
Which brings me to the most important thing I’ll tell you today,
Read What You Love (and know when to let go)
I know a number of people who say “I don’t enjoy reading, so I won’t” or “What if I don’t like it? I’ll have to finish it once I start, I’d rather not”
Let me tell you a little known secret, listen carefully:
YOU ARE NOT CAPABLE OF READING EVERY SINGLE BOOK EVER WRITTEN.
I cannot stress this enough; Life is too short to read books you don’t like. Not when there are literally millions of books out there waiting to be discovered by you.
There’s really no need to get emotional about it.
Personally, I follow a 100 page rule; if after a 100 pages I still haven’t connected with the book. It’s time to let it go (Please don’t do this if you are getting paid to read said book). It’s important to note that your mood or circumstances can also affect your enjoyment of a book. Some books are worth going back to, the point is to not make reading a chore.
If you are trying to fall in love with reading, you need to read what you enjoy. Not what is fashionable or makes you sound smart or hip. Read the books that make you lose track of time, the books you get lost in. Yes, those books you can’t put down, the ones that make you feel like yelling when you get interrupted.
If you don’t know what you like, experiment across genres. Don’t feel pressured to read a certain kind of book. You may find that you enjoy comics or memoirs, fantasy, literary fiction, chick lit, whatever. The important thing is to be honest to yourself.
If you don’t like it, drop it. Even if it was a Man Booker Winner or Chinua Achebe endorsed it from beyond the grave. Even if your bfffff wrote it. You have to let yourself love reading, build the habit and associate reading with pleasure.
Oh, but what will your pastor say?!
I know Nigerians looove their Inspirational and self-help books. If I asked 10 people on the streets of Lagos what book they couldn’t live without, 7 of them will feel obliged to say The Bible. Even though, we know the layers of dust on their Bibles are thick enough to build a sculpture.
The fact is there is only so much self-help you can assimilate and successfully apply to your life, and you can get proper life lessons from fiction as well.
Fiction is alive, it has characters (when the writer is really good they are super relatable). Fiction lets you see the world from the point of views of others, travel to exotic places, teaches you history, psychology etc., gives you an escape from that reality you need so much help with.
Have you ever read a book so engaging you couldn’t wait to get to a place where you could read it without looking like a crazy person?
While this is not exactly my cup of tea, (The one audio-book I have, The Confidence Code, I got in 2014 and while I find the subject matter fascinating, I haven’t made any real headway. In fact, I forgot all about it until now.) I get the appeal and I know a couple of people who swear by it.
Make Notes and Highlights; Keep a Reading Journal
I currently use a little notebook to keep track of my current reads and thoughts as I go along and after finishing a book. I tried to get a proper journal this year with no luck and I have decided to make my own this year.
Would you buy my reading journal?!
Another way to keep track of your reading is by starting a blog… or contributing to one. If you would like to do this but don’t want to go to the trouble of starting your own blog. Indicate your interest in the comments.
Finally, you can join a book club. I’m not one for collaborative reading but a book club can help you stay on track and make friends with similar interests in the process.
I didn’t expect it to be so long but there you have it, my tips for smashing your reading goals this year.
Do you have a go to trick for reading more books? Share with us in the comments.