Well, after seeing an article which suggested that choosing longer books are a way to read more (and disagreeing with it because reading too much of one author too quickly can make you bored of them!), I thought that I’d offer a few tips of my own about how to get into reading books.
After all, although I only got back into reading novels regularly a little over a year ago (after about 3-4 years of not reading much), I used to read for fun quite regularly during my teens and early-mid twenties.
So, here are a few random tips about how to get into reading novels if you’re interested in reading more.
1) Go for books you’ll actually enjoy!: It goes without saying but, reading books is meant to be fun. There are literally millions of thrilling, funny, scary, steamy, cool, quirky and/or fascinating books out there that will never make it onto any official reading list. Talking about them won’t make you sound sophisticated and they aren’t famous or “classical” enough for most other people to even know what you’re talking about. But, they are the books that you want to read, because they are the books that will make you want to read more books.
I’m talking about the fun books, often snootily referred to as “genre fiction”. The thriller novels, horror novels, detective novels, urban fantasy novels, sci-fi novels, romances etc… with the really cool-looking cover art and the author names that you’ve never heard before. Unlike the turgid “classics” you probably had to read at school, these books are actually designed to be read for fun. They have humour, suspense, gripping fast-paced writing, intriguing mysteries, cool characters, really cute couples, better “special effects” than you’ll see in a movie etc…
But, if you’re totally new to novels, then start with modern genre novels that were published within the past two decades or so. I cannot stress this enough! Modern genre novels are often written in a fast, informal and streamlined way that is designed to be more interesting than social media, films, TV and other such distractions. Yes, there are lots and lots of really awesome older novels too, but save them until after streamlined modern novels have shown you how genuinely fun reading can be.
And, regardless of your favourite genre, start with something that you know you will enjoy! If you aren’t sure where to start, go online and see if there are any novels based on your favourite TV shows, movies or videogames. Some of these will have the advantage of being a re-telling of a familiar story that you already know (so you know that you’ll enjoy it), not to mention that many novels based on TV shows will often tell new spin-off stories, which are kind of like extra “lost episodes”.
Regardless of what types of stories you like, there are literally loads of fun books out there that you probably haven’t heard of. So, go looking for them!
2) Reading is rebellious: Although I come from a book-filled house and I did read books when I was a child, I only really got seriously interested in reading when I happened to find an old copy of an ultra-gruesome 1980s horror novel on a market stall when I was thirteen. It was nothing like anything I’d read before. It seemed exactly like all of the cool horror movies I really wanted to watch (but didn’t look anywhere near old enough to buy on VHS or DVD). Needless to say, I felt like such a rebel!
And, since I felt like such a rebel after reading this “shocking” book, I found more horror novels (eg: James Herbert’s “The Rats“, Shaun Hutson’s “Erebus“, S.D. Perry’s “Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy” etc..) and then I got interested in dystopian sci-fi novels, then “edgy” literary novels, then detective novels, then… Well, a lot of books. I also got interested in writing fiction too. Depravity and corruption, indeed!
And all because I found a “shocking” horror novel that felt rebellious to read. So, yes, one reason to read is because books are rebellious. It doesn’t matter what the genre is, novels will have a lot more individuality, variety, creativity and personality than you’ll often be able to find in other entertainment mediums.
For example, if you want a very “non-Hollywood” sci-fi novel that focuses on culture, characters, places, empathy etc… more than technology, then read Becky Chambers’ “The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet“. If you want something that is like a hilariously funny late-night punk version of “Doctor Who”, then read Jodi Taylor’s “Chronicles Of St. Mary’s” novel series (starting with “Just One Damned Thing After Another“. Seriously, read them in order).
If you want a a “heavy metal music in book form” historical dark fantasy zombie apocalypse thriller novel, read “Anno Mortis” by Rebecca Levene. If you want a thriller story (with horror and fantasy elements) that is also set in a cyberpunk sci-fi future, then try reading “Working For The Devil” by Lilith Saintcrow.
I could go on for a while, but one of the cool things about books is that they have so much freedom to try unusual ideas, to rebel, to tell quirky stories you won’t find on TV etc… Seriously, books are one of the most punk storytelling mediums out there. They are anything but boring!
3) Don’t be afraid to abandon books you don’t like (and get lots of books too!): Finally, following on from the first point on this list, if you start reading a book and find that you don’t enjoy it, then there is no shame in putting it down and reading another one. Seriously, it’s ok. I do this and you should too. It is why there are no one or two star book reviews on this blog. If a book is that bad, I’ll ditch it and read something better instead.
Remember, reading should be fun. So, if a book doesn’t grip you or interest you in some way, then put it down and read one that does. You are not required to finish every book you start! In fact, if you can’t finish a book, then this is usually either the fault of the author (for writing a boring book) or it is just because you aren’t “ready” for the book yet. When you find a good book, you’ll want to finish it. You’ll want to binge-read it instead of binge-watching TV shows. Trust me, you’ll know this feeling when you experience it.
If you’re new to reading novels and a book doesn’t make you feel like this, then put it down and pick up another one. This is also where building up a book collection comes in very handy. You should always have several books nearby, so that there’s always a choice of books to read next. If you don’t have a gigantic budget, then this is where things like second-hand books, charity shops, libraries and possibly even those trendy e-reader subscription things come in. Regardless, build up a collection of interesting books so that, if one doesn’t interest you, then more books are only a few seconds away from you.
And, yes, keep your current book nearby. One of the cool things about books is that unlike TV shows, movies and modern videogames (with checkpoint saving), you can easily pick them up for just a couple of minutes and then “save” your place with a bookmark whenever and wherever you want. Of course, if a book is good enough, then “just a couple of minutes” will usually turn into hours without you even noticing or caring.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂