It’s 2016! It’s a New Year! And a new you…riiiiight? If these words scare you, you aren’t alone. Many people make grand plans to stick to their New Year’s resolutions which never come to fruition. You know what they say about best laid plans…but have no fear, I’m here to help! Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to read more? Is your dream to become one of those “well-read” sort of people?
With these easy tips you will be well on your way to entering into any conversation about books and blowing away your friends and colleagues. Becoming a better reader is a rewarding experience, but the road there can be rocky. For some it doesn’t come naturally. If this sounds like you, it's time to read!
1. Start small. Try reading a new book every month. If you are feeling ambitious and are going from proficient reader to expert level, a new one every week. If a whole book goal seems like too much too soon for you and you just said to yourself “this woman is crazy. I have a life,” start with page goals. Commit to reading five pages a day or even ten pages a day. The key is to do whatever makes you comfortable and what you can realistically handle.
2. Choose a genre or subject you will enjoy. Don’t like fiction? Well, then stick to non-fiction, biographies and autobiographies. Hate romance? Don’t read it. Never try to force yourself to become a certain kind of reader. Although I read everything, even I have certain genres I enjoy more than others. You would be surprised to know how many people naturally gravitate to certain kinds of books. Follow the pull!
3. Commit to the process, not the end goal. So you didn’t finish a book a month or even a book every three months. It’s ok! No one became a reader overnight. I may have felt like I was born a reader, but that would be wrong. Like any skill, it takes practice to sit and quietly absorb information for a certain period of time. Committing to the journey of what you’re doing (reading more) and less the end goal (finishing a certain number of books or pages) makes your reading experience more enjoyable. In essence, don’t be so hard on yourself when you don’t achieve something every single time.
4. Learn that breaks are good! Along with committing to the process not the goal is the idea that if it is getting too rough or it’s just too much, take a break! No one ever said you had to read for a year straight. If you can do it for three months, take a break for three, then go back for three more and repeat, you will have already done more than you were doing before. Just because you aren’t doing something consistently, no matter what anyone tells you, doesn’t make it not worth doing.
5. Never give up. Because you are committing to the process and not the end goal does not mean you give up at the first sign of trouble. You can’t even do pages? Well, then do lines. I can’t stress enough that anything, and I mean anything, counts towards your process of reading more.
6. Adjust your goals. Suddenly, you’ve been reading for three months and now you breeze through five pages like it’s nothing. And yes, it is possible to get faster or better at reading. Now what do you do? You have to push yourself. Adjust your goal given your current ability. Challenge yourself. Make it ten pages or if you were already doing ten make it twenty. No matter what keep track from where you are currently and not only where you were. That is how you achieve goals. It keeps you on your toes!
7. Don’t let people discourage you. The stuck-up, snobby co-worker who has read every book under the sun thinks your New Year's resolution is “so cute” and makes comments that it pales in comparison to the vast library of books in her head. So what! Don’t let negativity stop you from achieving what you have set for yourself. Remember, even if you don’t reach it always, you are way ahead of where you used to be as a reader.
8. Get a support group. If you know of anyone else who said they always wanted to read more, now’s the time to tap that resource. If you both are on the same skill level, then you both can set the same goal. You can even have a book club to discuss whatever goal you set. Who made the rule that a book club has to be a whole book? No one. Meet for chapters, pages or lines. It’s an opportunity to really delve into what you read, enjoy friends, and get you ready for that water cooler discussion!
9. Keep it interesting. Any genre is only good for a certain amount of time. I can stick with historical fiction for a long time, but then I switch it up because I get bored. Yes, I too get bored reading the same genre. In order to keep your attention, switch gears. I said above not to force yourself to like a certain genre, but the reverse could also be said. Don’t force yourself to stay away from genres. You may get comfortable only reading chick lit, but there is a whooooole world of books out there. Step out of your comfort zone and explore that horror novel you had an inkling to dive into or read that new autobiography someone told you about that sounded interesting. Change is good in most things and that goes for your reading diet too.
10. Reward yourself. Yay! You finished that book that everyone’s been talking about and now you can finally chat about it. Invite some of your friends out! Take the time to celebrate that achievement and go to a nice dinner where you can have an intellectually, stimulating conversation about the new “IT” book. Patting yourself on the back for a job well done is always a good thing.
Do you have any tips for someone who wants to become a better reader? Please share! Follow me on Twitter @TheBookaholicBee or comments below are always appreciated!
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