Although I loathe and despise the idea of “new year’s resolutions”, I unintentionally made one last year (and, yes, I write these articles quite far in advance) when I suddenly started to get back into reading regularly (after 2-3 years of infrequent reading) a day or so after New Year’s Day. Which, incidentally, is why several book reviews have been appearing here over the past month or two.
And, although I’ve already written about how to get back into reading regularly, I thought that I’d offer a few extra tips for reading more this year if you’re interested in doing so.
1) Challenges and scores: In the other article, I talked about intrinsic motivation (eg: make sure you actually want to read more) and following your instincts when choosing books (eg: read what you enjoy). Even if your instincts lead you to different things than you used to read, follow them nonetheless.
For example, when I got back into reading a month or two before I wrote this article, I ended up blazing my way through about eight thriller novels by Clive Cussler (and various co-writers) before I returned to my more traditional mixture of sci-fi, horror, thriller and detective novels. I wanted to read gripping thriller novels, so I started by reading a few of these before my tastes returned to normal. These thriller novels were the thing that got me interested in reading again. So, follow your instincts!
But, expanding on this, another way to get intrinsic motivation is to set yourself challenges, keep score of how many books you’ve read etc… Although this may sound petty or pointless, keeping score or challenging yourself to finish a particular book within a particular number of days (be realistic though) can be really useful for building intrinsic motivation.
In short, keeping score means that you feel proud of yourself and challenging yourself to read quickly means that you not only keep reading but it also means that you can start reading new books more regularly too.
2) Keep a book nearby: This one is really obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Simply put, keep your book nearby! Put it somewhere where it is easy to get to and can be picked up at a moment’s notice. Or, if you can, try to put it somewhere that you normally associate with entertainment too.
For example, after I got back into reading regularly, I put my current book next to my computer in the same way that I ususally did with the DVD boxset I was watching at any particular time. Not only did this mean that the book was easy to get to, but it also meant that I ended up thinking of reading in a similar way to binge-watching watching a DVD boxset. This then led me to think of books as being more like a cheaper, more immersive and more reliable equivalent of a DVD boxset, which made them seem more appealing to me.
Likewise, make sure that you’ve already worked out what you’re going to read next before you finish your current book. You can always change your mind if you find a more interesting book in the meantime, but having an idea of what you’re going to read next means that you won’t be frozen by indecision or put off reading the next book.
3) It gets easier: Although reading regularly might seem like a bit of an effort at first, it gets easier! So, keep at it!
This change in difficulty can happen in an interesting way – if you keep reading books by the same author (like I did with Clive Cussler novels), then you’ll get used to the writer’s style and will eventually think “I want something a bit different” or “I want something more challenging“.
This will probably lead to you reading something different and, if it’s a bit older or more complex, you’ll feel like you’re back to square one again. I mean, I was feeling fairly confident about breezing my way through Clive Cussler novels… then, after a couple of other books, I read “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson. Needless to say, the novel’s complex narration made me feel like I was reading at half my normal speed. But, I stuck at it. And, soon, I was reading it more quickly again. And that isn’t even the best part…
When I returned to reading horror, thriller etc.. novels, I found that my experiences with grappling with more complex narration meant that I was able to read these novels even more quickly. It’s kind of a bit like gaining experience points in an old role playing game or like how a bodybuilder builds their muscles or something like that.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂