Some statements addressed to me by friends, family, and other folk:
“Wow Thomas, I see you with a book all the time! How do you even find time to read?”
“Thomas, as a busy college student, you must really have no friends or no life to read as much as you do.”
“Why am I writing this blog post when I could be reading Game of Thrones? Why do I do anything when I could be reading Game of Thrones?”
Okay, the last one belongs to me – but I do have a sincere reason. With 2014 approaching, I see more and more people making cool and challenging reading goals for the new year. I thought it would be helpful to share some tips and tricks to maximize your reading time beyond just “procrastinating less” or “becoming a nun but secretly reading instead of doing whatever nuns do.” At college I’ve learned to value time spent reading, and while it is true that I do not possess a life or friends, here are some techniques for those of you who do.
Make it a habit. When I first started working out, I forced myself onto a treadmill every day for two weeks. After that, my body would just feel weird if I didn’t sweat to inappropriate pop music on a daily basis. Perhaps start with a goal of getting through 20 pages a day, or reading for 15 minutes every day – adjust it to your standards, and give yourself breaks along the way, like one day off per week. Humans prefer routine and in the end you cannot lose yourself in a book if you never pick it up in the first place.
Read everywhere. Literally, everywhere. I don’t know why people think it’s rude to read at restaurants when so many patrons end up staring at their phones during conversational lulls and awkward silences. When my dad and I have nothing to say to each other, we read – but if this makes you uncomfortable, there are plenty of other places you can read. You can read while working out at the gym, you can listen to audio books while walking to your next class or driving (though that might prove a safety hazard), you can read while waiting for your bus or train, you can read in the tree that rests near your dorm or house, etc. Basically, disregard what society says and use idle time to your advantage.
Stop wasting time. I know I said I would avoid advice that pertains to avoiding procrastination and the like, but I’ll share this one because I suffer from it too: get off Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, your crush’s MySpace from 2003, etc. and read a book instead. Why examine what your ex got for Christmas when you could experience the magnificent character development of a Neal Shusterman novel? Why post that narcissistic selfie when you could bask in the glorious and intense plot of the George Martin series we all know and love? In fact, I only have one more tidbit advice before you can stop reading this post and get to reading a novel.
It’s not you. It’s the book. If you find yourself forcing the pages to flip as your eyes glaze over and dreams involving Joseph Gordon-Levitt arise, consider your choice of novel or nonfiction. If a book isn’t capturing your interest, don’t feel bad for pausing or abandoning it and switching to a new one. I tend to always pair my nonfiction and classic reads with a young-adult fiction or fiction novel to keep myself engaged – you can choose from a variety of strategies to make the most of your reading time.
What advice do you have about finding or making time to read more? Do you use any of these strategies or variations of these tips? I hope this post has proven helpful or at least entertaining to read to some extent – now I’m off to continue Game of Thrones. If you’re interested in my brief thoughts UnSouled by Neal Shusterman or To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf you can find them here and here respectively, and I hope everyone has a great start to the New Year!