I keep seeing these articles popping up about the place, regarding how to read more. Which is obviously attractive to any bookish sort, because there are so many books and we have so little time in which to read them all. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be able to read less, although my parents probably disagreed back when I was devouring everything I could get my hands on, and books weren’t so easy to come by where we lived. If e-readers had existed when I was a wee small thing, I think my parents would have had a much easier time of things, but, on the other hand, it might then have taken me until my teen years to encounter Stephen King and Peter Straub, so I might not have been so happy…
Anyhow, in these days of bookish plenty, the ability to read more is always tempting. Unfortunately, none of these articles have so far revealed any secrets. Read faster. Well, yes, but I already read as fast as I’m comfortable with. Any more and I might miss some lovely little jewel of language, some new word or twist of phrase that catches my attention and makes me stop for a moment to give it proper consideration. And for me, these are part of why I read.
Watch less television, get off social media, etc etc. I think we all know that. Not exactly a breakthrough there.
Carry reading materials with you at all times, so you can read in the queue at the supermarket, on the bus, on your lunch break. Excuse me, what sort of monster doesn’t? I admittedly cheat and have kindle on my phone so I can either have a specific snatched-moments-book on the go or can jump to the book I’m reading on my regular kindle.
“Have a towering TBR.” This is an actual item in a list I ran across, and all it suggests to me is that the writer of said list is not addressing dedicated readers. Every serious book lover I know lives in constant danger of death by toppling TBR.
So, with that said, allow me to present my own list on how to read. Because I can.
How to Read More
- Ensure isolation. Silence your phone. Better yet, turn it off. Inform your family you are not to be disturbed. Invest in a food dispenser for your pets, or just put the whole bag of food on the floor and tell them to knock themselves out. They can’t eat it all, right? (Correction, they can. Or they’ll try. This is why we have a food dispenser for Layla-cat. Put enough biscuits out for a night away, and she’ll eat the lot before you’ve walked out the door). Consider camping out in the bathroom, or investing in a port-a-potty. You don’t want to run the risk of someone thinking that since you’ve emerged from your reading room you can be interrupted. Consider renting an isolated cabin or a desert island.
- Lay in supplies. Particularly important if reading cozy mysteries of the dragonish variety, which have been known to spark cake cravings. Look, I have a disclaimer about it, okay? No responsibility is taken for attempted dragon adoption or excessive consumption of baked goods. If you’re reading James Herbert you’ll probably be safer, but grab some energy bars and protein shakes to keep you going. Otherwise, I recommend a tea station in the room and a full cake tin. You don’t have to eat the lot, after all. But no one would blame you if you did, either.
Ensure you have adequate supplies laid in.
- Wear appropriate clothing. If it’s hot, light breathable wear is recommended so you don’t become too sleepy. Consider installing a fan and/or use of a spray bottle or hose (applied with care in order to avoid soggy pages or glitching screens). Reading in the pool is not recommended for extended periods due to the risk of interruption by thoughtless swimmers, and sunburn. Cold weather presents its own problems, in that finding the correct balance between blanket-swaddled comfort and becoming one with the sofa forever more can be difficult. Some experimentation may be called for.
- Stockpile appropriate reading material for every mood. Now, this should be self-explanatory, but it’s worth mentioning that just because you decided to read the collected works of both Fyodor Dostoevsky and James Joyce doesn’t mean you might not want a bit of farcical sci-fi or dragonish cosy mystery to break it up. Or instead of. You know, for when you’ve got about a quarter of the way through Ulysses and are wondering why you read at all.
This is not an appropriate reading spot.
- Create a fort out of said reading material (a little trickier with ebooks. I’d suggest printing the covers out and forming them into a marquee). Fortify your fort (heh) with all the books on the list of this year’s must-reads, as well as all the classics you should have read, because if you haven’t then you’re just not a serious reader. Arm yourself with last year’s must-reads and all the titles you have to read by the time you’re 30/40/50, and pelt anyone who comes near with them.
- Look at what you have created. Look at it! It is glorious and wonderful! You will protect your book fort against all comers! You will never come out! You are the supreme ruler of bookdom! You are the ultimate reader! You are— Hang on. Go to point seven instead. I think I got sidetracked.
- Ignore all lists found on the internet that tell you how you should be reading. In fact, ignore most lists on the internet that tell you how you should be doing anything. Read what you want, when you want, as much or as little as you want, and if anyone tells you you’re doing it wrong, throw Ulysses at them. That’ll shut them up.
Now tell me, lovely people – do you read a lot or a little? Do you read whatever catches your fancy, or do you have reading lists and goals? If you do, what’s on them for 2019? Let me know below!