Monday, January 26, 2015

4 Ways to Boost Your Reading

As a person whose sole job in the world is not "reading books," my reading habits are sporadic at best. I empathize with people who say they've "just had to let reading drop" while real life happens. I understand that person. Sometimes I am that person. But though I forget it sometimes, reading is truly one of life's greatest pleasures. I don't know how I manage to forget it because reading used to be my sole passion in life. I cannot tell you how often as a child I read and read and read until I was pulled out of the book by the call to chores or a meal or bed. I can still get back that intoxicated, bleary-eyed bliss if I let myself sit without a bit of technology in a quiet place with a good story for an hour. Just an hour. Just an hour and I can find my Paradise lost of childhood reading. It's a beautiful feeling and I can be drawn in by the champagne tones of a light old favorite, the wine-heavy tongue of a Dickens, the brandy-flavored wording of Mark Twain, or the gin-and-tonic Wodehouse. It's easy for me to admit that I'm a "book drunkard," as Lucy Maud Montgomery had it. Now that I've waxed poetic and probably showed my ignorance of all forms of alcohol (interesting fact: the only times I've had it were accidental doses of Communion wine), I'll get on with the body of this post. Ways to Improve Your Reading Times. Because we all know that it's much harder to read than it is to talk about reading. I even find it ironic that I'm sitting here blogging with an ignored copy of Chesterton's The Innocence of Father Brown at my elbow and Captain America: The Winter Soldier playing on the TV across the living room from where I sit. I ought to be reading my book instead of blogging or watching a (very good) action flick. Maybe later I will. Just bear with my hypocrisy one moment longer. Below, I've compiled a list of tactics that help me fit in consistent reading even when life gets shockingly busy.

1.) Use a bookmark: if I can't find my spot in a book, I am much less likely to go back to that book if I have only a few moments. It takes too long to figure out where I left off and get back into the story. On the other hand, if I have my place clearly marked, it isn't hard to pick up the book and read a paragraph or two. Which leads me to my next tip...
2.) Don't wait for a free hour to start reading: I feel as if I've mentioned this before, but I recall reading about some Englishman who ended up making his way through a massive collection of law volumes in his lifetime by picking them up every time he used the bathroom. Don't judge me. Bathroom time is essentially the perfect time to sneak in a paragraph or two of a book. It's quiet. It's private. No one will bother you and no one will shame you for taking a while. There are other good moments to sneak in reading time...waiting to pick up a sibling from dance practice? Take a book along. Have a half-hour at the coffee shop? Read a book instead of browsing Facebook on your phone. Now for Tip Three...
3.) Be not so attached to technology: Sometimes the best way to free up time you thought you didn't have is to leave your phone, tablet, or iPad in a different room. I blush to think of how many hours I would have to devote to reading if I decided to disconnect from the WiFi and devote my attention to my book rather than my messages. I have this obsession with clearing notifications. If I see a notification pop up on my phone, I have to type in my password, open the app, check the notification, and clear it off the list. I hate seeing un-looked-at push-button notifications. Come to think of it, I ought to turn that setting off and see how it helped me.
4.) Read a book with a friend: I'm not saying you have to start up a book club. I'm not even sure what you're supposed to do at a book-club. But when I know a friend is depending on me to text quotes back and forth with her from a book we are both reading, I'm much more likely to keep at it. I will now give an embarrassed shrug to my friend Joanna who is waiting on me for a Pride & Prejudice re-read. Author Clara Thompson and I are all set to begin reading Ivanhoe together whenever she manages to get a copy. It's double the fun of reading alone: you get to read a book, and you get to share your experience of that book with a friends. It's like live-time Goodreads.

This is just the beginning of many ways (some cleverer than mine!) that there are to improve the consistancy of your reading schedule. Leave your favorite method for frequent reading in a comment below and share with the rest of us your method to a happy reading life.

7 comments:

Ana @ Butterflies of the Imagination said...

Turning off all the devices is very important to getting my reading time in. Otherwise, the call of the Internet becomes too great to resist. I also read in my snatches of time because what with school and extracurriculars, my life can get very busy.

Rebecca said...

Wow! Turning off technology is DEFINITELY what I need to do!

Suzannah said...

Don't look at me funny, but I also set page quotas. I'm a fast reader, so I can get through 60 pages or so in an hour or so. If I have a lot on my reading plate I will focus on knocking out a daily quota every evening just before bed. That tends to work. Also, I read at mealtimes a lot :D.

penandfire.com said...

Great suggestions! I definitely feel you. Books were one of my first loves, but now Life keeps getting in the way. Even writing, as wonderful as it is, can derail me. The nooks and crannies in our schedules make for a good and fruitful time to pick up our books, and YES, it is too true that technology can be such a distraction.

I've made it a resolution to read much more this year and one thing I've done is written up a list I'm aiming to get through (helps me be intentional too). It may be overly ambitious, but I figure the push will get me farther than I would otherwise.

- Dana

Rachel Heffington said...

Suzannah: well that works! What an interesting idea...page quotas. I sort of tried that last night: I made a goal to finish the last three chapters of a book and was able to do so before bed.
Dana: a list is a very good idea! I make lists of books I finish, but books I would like to read is an interesting way of doing it that I will think about trying. Looking forward to seeing you beat this New Year's Resolution. ;)

Abby said...

I like your tips! I probably spend too much time on the internet, but I do spend a good deal of time reading too. I read at meals, and yes, in the bathroom and online too. When I get a new book, I have a hard time stopping. :) But it can be hard to get started sometimes.

Sofia Marie said...

Hey,Rachel! "Bookmarks" are made easy by kindle, lol. :) It's cool that you don't have to find your place each time. "Don't wait for a free hour to start reading" - true. Sometimes I read when I'm riding the stationery bike. :) What's your reading goal for the year?

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