When I talk to people about my book-reading-quest of 2018, they almost always marvel. “How do you find time to read so much?!” is the most common question (accompanied by a baffled face) that I receive. Yes, I’m a lawyer by day, a traveler when I can, a supporter a charities, a baker on the weekends, and a turn up queen every second of my life. I also read more than a book every week last year. So, tips, you ask? Well . . .
- Read shit you like. The first way to read more is to read what you like. Don’t struggle through the latest biography of Ulysses Grant if you don’t give a damn. Boredom makes you put the book down faster and pick it up slower. I fully understand that sometimes you want to branch out and expand your horizon, or try out the book recommendation of a friend, and you should! But it is a rare person who can power through works that they find to be dreadfully boring, and if you aren’t that kind of person, but you want to finish a book within this rotation around the sun, just start with stuff you like. If that’s Degrasse’s scientific theories, great! If it’s Tom Clancy mysteries, that’s cool too!
- Read during your commute. This won’t work for everyone, particularly those who are not in big cities with public transportation like me. But, if you do commute by bus or train, take some of that time every day to read instead of just cruising Instagram or listening to music. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you’ll be surprised at how much you read during even a 20 minute train ride.
- Listen to books on tape. My dad was the person who introduced me to books on tape…back when they were really on a damn tape. He used to bring the cassettes with him when we hopped in the car for a long-ish ride, and would insistently listen to them over the objections of my sister and I, who would have loved to listen to something more upbeat. But then again, one of these car rides was my first introduction to Zora Neale Hurston, and I will never forget how her prose touched even my elementary-school soul. I don’t much listen to books on tape (I only listened to one on Audible in the last year), but that’s because I have no problems picking up the good ole former-tree version. For those who struggle to find reading time, you can listen on jogs, commutes, or when you’re just chilling at home! I listened to We’re Going to Need More Wine through my Alexa while I was cleaning my house . . . and enjoyed it.
- Read on the toilet. Or really just during any down-times like this. Listen, sometimes, you gotta spend more time on the toilet than otherwise would be the case. I’m lactose intolerant . . . and I like cheese . . . so I get it! Well, that’s a reason why people have magazine holders in their bathrooms. I know, in the age of Instagram and Twitter, it seems like there are more exciting things that you can do in the bathroom to get your juices flowing (couldn’t help it). But, if you get in the habit of taking your book with you to the bathroom, you may find yourself chilling on the toilet long after your own action dies down because you are in the grips of a page-turning chapter. Not speaking from personal experience or anything.
- Get a Kindle. I’m giving another recommendation for something I don’t necessarily do myself, but different strokes for different folks. I love paper. I love the flip of the page. I love the smudge of the ink on my thumb and the stains from an old meal on the pages where I got overly excited by the plot. I love dog-earring the parts I want to revisit. I just love books. But, not everyone wants to pop a bulky book in their bag or pocket when they are heading out of the house. Cool! Kindle to the rescue. You can also download and read things on your phone, if you don’t think that the small screen will strain your eyes. The only thing I’ve read in electronic format was Les Miserables on my phone, and it got the job done.
- BONUS! Learn how to read. Now, I’m saying this only partially snarkily, but, whew chile! Some of y’all can’t spell, let alone read. And yes, you may think that as a grown person you have the necessary skills to read and comprehend with ease. But, you’re wrong. Or, at least, a good number of you are wrong. Reading Twitter all day has done nothing for your analytical abilities, and that one English class that you took in college apparently did not teach you the difference between “their” and “there.” Don’t fret, though! Just put in some work. For example, I have my Alexa set to give me a “word of the day” every morning to help expand my vocabulary. I also will frequently read reviews and analysis of books online, even when I think I understood them pretty well, just to see if others picked up on themes or nuances that I missed. Not to mention, just reading more challenging things will naturally hone your skills. Challenge yourself, push ahead, read new things, but please, also sign up for the School for Kids Who Can’t Read and Want to Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too if you need it.