Reading books can be a relaxing way to pass the time and escape reality but for many, it’s tough to stay focused when there’s so much around to distract you. Here’s what you can do to ease yourself back into reading consistently.
The coronavirus crisis was supposed to mean we’d have time for the finer pursuits in life — reading, learning languages and creating things. We were supposed to have all this extra time to finish hobby projects and be above the lowly time-sink that streaming content is. I’m here to tell you it was all a bloody lie.
The doom of the world’s news sites and our coronavirus-induced isolation made anything more than a couch streaming binge a tough ask. It’s meant all those books I purchased at the start of the End Times are still sitting on the shelves, collecting dust because, by the way, cleaning is hard to keep up too.
Australia’s situation has thankfully improved for now and it means we can safely venture back to our bookshelves without the fear of failure again. If your book reading muscles haven’t been flexed in a while, here are some simple tips to get you back on track.
Start with shorter books
When I first started reading again for the fun of it after a long hiatus during the start of uni, I found it tough to even look at a 600-page book. Instead, I opted for shorter books or non-fiction articles under 100 or 150 pages to get me back in the swing. Once I could conquer those confidently in a few days, I upped the limit to 200 or 250 pages and so on.
A thick book like Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life is one I’d love to read but if you’ve been off the book wagon for a little while, it’s going to take a lot of willpower to get started.
Set a realistic page goal
There seems to be some sort of competition between avid readers on who can read the fastest and I’m the first to say it’s pretty bullshit. If you can only manage to get through 20 pages in an hour, that’s completely fine. Reading is not a race and if you get to the end of a 300-page book in a day but remember very little of it, you’ve just wasted a whole lot of time.
Instead, you can aim to get through a reasonable amount of pages over a single day or week. Once you set a realistic page goal you can achieve consistently, you’ll realise how simple it is to keep going.
Set aside some time
This is probably the simplest but hardest tip. Saying you’ll read that book isn’t enough, you’re going to have to force yourself to do it. For some, that’s commuting on public transport but with coronavirus likely to be around for some time it’s probably not possible for all.
The best time for me, now that commuting has been crossed off indefinitely, is before bed. It helps me to stop looking at the endless scroll of Twitter and calms me before sleeptime. That’s not going to work for everyone but finding the time, whether it’s on a lunch break, after dinner or first thing in the morning, is how you’ll stay committed to getting through your book pile of shame.
Know when to ditch a book
Ditching a book was hard for me to do. I used to use Goodreads to track my progress on books and the anxiety of being perceived as a slow reader whipped me to race through books. This was even harder to do when a book sucked (
like The Alchemist) but I felt like I had to finish it off to include it in my book challenge total.
You really don’t. Some books just won’t be your type and not finishing one isn’t a failure, it just tarnishes the fun of reading. So ditch away and feel the shackles of a shitty book holding you down disappear.
Reading is a great way to mix up your social-distancing routine, plus it helps you slow down and fully absorb yourself in new ideas and worlds. Buying physical books might be on hold for a bit (although you can still order, and should, ideally from an independent bookseller). Luckily, ebooks are a safe and mostly worthy alternative to the real thing.Read more