I’ve never been the most disciplined reader. In terms of my reading speed, I actually think I’m far below the average for my age. I remember when I was 14 years old, I was in English class and the teacher told us that by now we ought to be reading a page a minute. I still haven’t reached that level of efficiency. My roommates Aaron and Anne-Marie are voracious readers; they go through books like locusts through a crop field. It’s a skill at once intimidating and envious. But reading- much like writing- is a craft, something that can be honed and tuned. I often liken being a writer to being a basketball player, and I similarly think of reading in athletic terms. Recently I’ve been bulking- going hard as it were. Just because one gets older, that doesn’t necessitate better reading speed or endurance. In recent years I think I have been deteriorating. But this year I have been getting strong. My reading levels now are as high as they have ever been. I’m closing in on my page-a-minute target. My biggest hurdle at the moment is consistency and navigating distractions. What I want to do in this post is reach out to other readers and share my reading journey. Here are a few tips that have helped me immensely- and I want to stress that I was a very weak reader just a few months ago. But these methods helped me, and with luck they will help you too!
#1 Seek a bigger font size
Getting back in the swing of things is key. If you are struggling to finish a book, then don’t pick one written in tiny print. Help yourself out. At this point in the journey, all that matters is building momentum. Don’t worry- it gets easier!
#2 Grab a book with short chapters
I’ve always contended that I can read any book, no matter how long or how complex, if only it had short chapters. For me, the way a book is divided makes such a difference. Psychologically, a book with fun-size chapters is much less intimidating. You’ll find yourself more motivated to read because you’ll be squeezing out a chapter in between tasks. If your issue is that you can’t get enough time to read, then pick a book with short chapters!
#3 Building a momentum
Whatever book you choose to read, make sure you give it some love as often as you can. Even if it’s literally one page to show for the day. It keeps the narrative fresh in your mind. Treat reading like a lifestyle, just like cooking and showering. This will prevent you from losing touch with the story, which is why a lot of people give up. Stick with it, and incorporate it as much as you can, or as much as your schedule will allow.
#4 Don’t be afraid to change things up!
I feel like a large part of my reading success this year is due to the fact that I’m not just sticking to a tried and tested genre or author that I identify with. There are excellent stories in every genre of fiction, from every corner of the Earth. So far this year I have read science fiction, erotic fiction, mystery fiction, literary/experimental fiction, and children’s fiction. Keeping a variety of texts has worked wonders for me. It keeps me from getting fatigued and burnt out, and honestly it makes each book seem fresh and exciting. I also suggest changing up the lengths and styles of the books you are reading. If you’ve just read Anna Karenina, I wouldn’t jump immediately into Crime and Punishment. I think at this stage in my reading I would get burnt out- what I would do instead is read something short and light, like a children’s novel, in between the heavy Russian tomes.
#5 Hold yourself accountable to a blog!
What worked so well for me was keeping a reading blog. That’s how this blog started. The blog wasn’t for you, not at first. It wasn’t for anyone. It was a way of holding myself accountable and it worked. I suddenly had gotten into a routine of reading a book a week. You don’t have to make a blog if you don’t want to, but even just posting your reading adventures on Instagram will help. I got the idea to create my own website when I realized that I was writing too much in the captions for the books I posted on Instagram.
#6 Join a Reading Club- or start one of your own!
Again, this has worked for me and it is essentially the same principle as starting a blog. It’s a way to keep yourself accountable to something and make the experience of reading more fun. Sharing a book and discussing it with some buddies is a good time. In order to maintain my reading efficiency- no, to revitalize it (since I felt my intensity waning) – I just started an informal reading group with my roommates. Currently I’m reading a novel my sister Anne-Marie lent me, and it’s been such fun discussing it with her as we drink mimosas in the pool; me speaking in breathless tones about how “Tess seems to be moving on with her life- if you know what I mean”. It’s also seen me read faster than I have in years. It’s a 420-page book and I’m about 260 pages through it, whilst still tending to my other work.
#7 Read groups of words, not individual words
This is the advice I so often run into online, and it’s what they try to teach kids in schools. I’m not embarrassed to say I needed this advice. I was behind the standard I needed to be at, to where I wanted to be. I don’t know if it’s anything to do with the disappearance of my youth, but now all of a sudden I have an urgency to read all the books! To read as many as I can. When reading you should absolutely keep the pace going- avoid returning to the previous sentence or re-reading something. Use your mind to help put the sentences together; don’t be passive. Read in groups of words and then lines.
#8 Don’t beat yourself up
Your initial targets should not be too ambitious. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Small steps. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t worry about how much everyone else is reading. The ultimate goal here is to get you reading and reading healthily. Take it one book at a time and put any other books out of mind.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this piece and want me to do more of this kind of stuff, then consider giving me a Like or Subscribe! I would love to hear your suggestions. And please comment below to share with me your own reading experiences!