I read books like my life depended on it. Reading is something between my favorite past-time and my refuge from everyday life. [Even if she loves London, a girl might often need to escape to New York in the 30s.] In 2017, I promised myself to read 24 books, i.e. 2 books per month. I wanted a goal that would be doable but not stressful. By the end of December, I had managed these and a handful more. For 2018, I decided to raise the bar higher and aim at an ambitious 35! Let’s see how this works out.
One question that I’m always asked is how I get so much reading done. I’ve been a speedy reader since I remember myself, walking around with my nose stuck in a book at all times. However, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that could do wonders, if your 2018 resolution was to read more:
- Always carry a book with you. This is a piece of advice from my mom who’s infamous for (often) carrying more than one books with her. Truth is that there are so many opportunities throughout the day for you to read, may that be a dozen lines or an entire chapter. [More on that below.] Having a book with you at all times will ensure that each time you find yourself in the tube or waiting at the post office/a friend to show up for dinner plans/a doctor’s appointment, you have a book to keep you company instead of checking social media on your smartphone. Speaking of which, the Kindle app for smartphones can be a lifesaver in such occassions – an entire library at your fingertips! I’m devoted to paperbacks but reading on the Kindle app is perfect for a) commuting during rush hour, and b) going out. Geeky confession time: I could be on my way to a club/date and I will still be squeezing in some reading on my way there. #SorryNotSorry
- Have a list of books you want to read – both mentally and physically. Besides having a to-read list of classics that is as long as my arm, I never fail top pick up book recommendations from friends, colleagues, Instagram flat-lays, podcasts & articles. This saves me the hassle of “what to read next?”, taking me to the other end of the spectrum: the guilt induced by having several unread books lying around the house and never failing to persuade myself to buy a new one. As a result, even if I finish a novel in the middle of the night, there’s always something around to keep me reading.
- Create little “reading windows” within your day. You might have seen this sentence online a bit too often, but it’s perfectly true: it’s not about having time, it’s about making time. Unfortunately, I still have only 24 hours in my day – where do I sign up for more? – but, since reading brings me so much joy, I make sure to carve out small periods of time to for me to read. For instance, I wake up earlier than needed to have a leisurely breakfast while reading my book. I read on my way to work and back, and I always read a few pages in bed as it relaxes me and helps me fall asleep. [Tip: if you feel like giving reading in bed a try, switch from your non-fiction day read to a novel. A good story plot helps me unwind more easily than real-world stats and facts.] Geeky confession time: sometimes I leave the office during lunch time and hit a nearby cafe for a brief tête-à-tête with my latest read. Similarly to taking a brisk walk, it helps me de-stress and return to my desk with a subtle glow that leaves my colleagues wondering whether I’d been on a date instead.
- Feel free to leave books unfinished. If you’re like me, you probably have (or have had) a tough time coming to terms with the notion of leaving a book unfinished. It took me a long time to realise that when I’m stuck with reading a book that I do not particularly like, I usually tend to avoid the book itself and read everything else that might be available instead – from my flatmate’s postgrad class readings to the Domino’s leaflet she’s lovingly stuck on our fridge door. Here’s my suggestion: place the book back on the self and return to it at a later time, only when you feel ready. I wholeheartedly believe that there’s a right moment in our life for each book. To give you an example, I devoured Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life within a week only to stop thirty pages short of finishing it, and refused to read the ending. I hid the book in my desk drawer and forgot about it for more than a year. I re-discovered it while moving desks and finished it within a matter of hours…
Have you set up a reading challenge for yourself in 2018? I love keeping track of everything I read using Goodreads – you can find me here. In case you have any reading tips of your own, I’d love to hear about them!
Studious (as always),