Is reading more books one of your New Year's resolutions? Ours too. Here are nine ways to cram more reading time into your busy schedule and make the most of it...
1. Don't start a book you won't finish
We’re opening with a slightly controversial one. According to Bill Gates, who’s famously a voracious reader himself, you should never start a book that you just know you won’t be able to follow through with.
So, if it’s 700 pages long and you just know it’ll sit on your night table for months, don’t even pick it up. If there’s one thing worse than potentially missing out on a good book, it’s not giving it a proper chance by not considering the author’s vision in its entirety. Life’s simply too short for half-read books!
Try to keep your mind open and make your reading diet as varied as possible. Don’t just stick to what you know. Explore genres, authors, poetry; have a diverse selection of fiction and non-fiction to choose from.
In fact, if you’re the type of person who can swing two or three books at a time, try and keep them as different as possible: delve into a riveting thriller on your morning commute to work, and end the day in bed with a fascinating biography of that actor you love.
And no, we don’t mean setting deadlines or pages-per-day limits. As with any New Year’s resolution, it’s always better to go easy on yourself and achieve your goals in baby steps, rather than plunging right into the deep end with crazy restrictions and military self-discipline.
However, keep yourself on track with a basic list of the essential titles you definitely want to check off your to-read list this year, be it an author whose work you’ve been planning to introduce yourself to; or that bestseller everyone was talking about last year that you never got round to reading. Keep it realistic, stick to it and don’t buy any other books until you’ve finished everything on your list (see also point 7).
4. Take notes in the margins
Reading a book always feels more satisfying when you retain the things you learn. But with our hectic modern lifestyles filled with constant distractions, it can be tricky to concentrate and let that information sink in. Here’s where notes come into play.
By taking notes, you’ll be thinking about the book much harder than you normally would, and you can always come back and revisit your musings whenever you feel like refreshing your memory without having to re-read it again. Just use a pencil!
5. Find a reading buddy
Whether it’s your friend, colleague or even a member of a book club, it’s much more fun to read with someone else. Not only is it a great way to discuss your thoughts on the book with someone else, allowing you to see it from a different perspective, but it’s also an effective method of motivating yourself to finish the book, since you’ll have someone to hold you accountable. Who knows, you might even make a new friend!
6. Join an online community
Similarly, you can make reading a much more sociable activity by joining sites such as Goodreads—a “social cataloguing” website and the holy grail of book reviews, discussions, polls, blogs, ratings and finding literature you like as well as like-minded bibliophiles.
You can track your reading progress, share it with your friends on social media, recommend books or compile and exchange reading lists. Again, the social aspect will boost your motivation levels when it comes to finishing a book you started, as well as potentially get some unusual, unexpected or obscure recommendations you wouldn’t normally come across!
7. Don’t get over-zealous in bookshops
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a bookshop when you’re surrounded by all those shiny, colourful jackets, promising exhilarating stories and fascinating characters just waiting to be discovered. However, you need to exercise self-restraint, as this is the quickest road to a forever growing book pile on your bedside that gives you anxiety whenever you look at it.
Pace yourself, get only what you came there for, or stick to no more than one or two titles if you’re just browsing for something new (And don’t forget to bring your list from point 3!).
8. Find out what your idols read
Emile Zola. Image via wikipedia.org
There’s nothing more fascinating than discovering what inspired your favourite authors to write in the first place! You’re bound to come across some interesting similarities in their style, common themes or even learn how these authors helped shape their unique worldview.
But don’t stop there; try and find out what other influencers from various fields like to spend their time reading. Did you know, for example, that Kate Winslet is a fan of Emile Zola, or that Elon Musk adores The Lord of the Rings books?
9. Take your book EVERYWHERE
Because you never know when you might get stuck in a long queue at the doctor’s or waiting for a friend who’s running late to your dinner date. It’s always more fun to spend that time in the company of a book. Happy reading!
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