Fiction books have always represented love, inspiration and comfort to me. They have enabled me to live many lives, have many loves, and visit many places far beyond my real life experience. Welcome more reading into your life with these 15 ways to read more fiction.
As a child and teen, I read a LOT. When I was 14, for example, my New Year’s resolution was to read a book for every day of the year – and I made it.
Something started to happen as I got older, however. When I had young children, I couldn’t cope with anything much longer than a magazine article. When I studied at university, my brain got so full with academic writing that it seemed it lacked the space to accommodate any personal reading. Even now, the thought of sitting down all day with a book to read seems like an indulgent luxury.
But we should make time to read. After all, as discussed in this article on the importance of reading, reading continues to develop our vocabulary, our empathy, and our memory throughout our lives. Perhaps most importantly to me, it also creates a single-minded focus that is often missing in life. When I am reading, it’s one of the few times that I’m doing just one thing. It therefore improves my concentration and helps me relax.
Knowing something is important, however, doesn’t mean we actually DO it. This year I’ve made a concerted effort to increase the number of books I read, and that’s why I share with you 15 ways that can also help you to read more fiction.
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READ MORE FICTION BY KNOWING CONTENT IS KING
1. Choose books you actually enjoy
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen non-readers turn into readers by simply finding the right book. My own son was a big fan of Horrible Histories, Horrible Scienceand Murderous Maths, but I couldn’t get him to read fiction himself until we stumbled onto John Marsden’s Tomorrow when the war began series. Then he was off. My husband started reading fiction when I put him on to Lee Child. Now he’s working his way through the Game of Thrones series. Reading something you actually enjoy makes all the difference.
Finding these books that you enjoy can be challenging, however, which links us to the next few points.
2. Know your genre
Chances are you have genres that appeal to you more than others. Those genres will replicate themselves from the big screen, to the small screen, to the book. So start off by identifying what you like to watch at the movies and on television. Crime and suspense are my main passions – I watched every single episode of CSI- and when you look at my bookshelf you see those same passions there. Having a genre identified gives you a place to start when you go into a bookstore or library.
3. Know your author
Oh the giddy joy of finding a new author that you love- especially when they have 1) a large backlist and b) a series. I LOVE series so much, as you have a whole world you can co-exist in and revisit again and again. If you don’t have any favorite authors, then google “best [insert genre] writers. I did this as a test for suspense and four of the top eight mentioned are four of my faves. If the offerings look a bit dry or ancient, then add the year or even the decade and that will help come up with some popular picks.
4. Reject all judgement
Look, I don’t know about you but I read for fun, not to impress others with my opinion on the latest Man Booker recipient. Nothing makes me more annoyed than people who denigrate other’s choice of reading material by labeling it as trash. Fiction is fundamentally for entertainment and there is nothing wrong with that! Own your book choice and don’t feel compelled to read something because it’s won literary awards.
5. Stop when you’re not having fun
Nothing makes you like reading less than reading a book you’re not into. This year I limped my way through the novel Wool by Hugh Howey, a New York Time’s Bestseller which many of my friends absolutely loved, but I was left untouched by. It’s not really a surprise when you think about it- it isn’t a genre I enjoy at all. I finished it, but it took me over three weeks to read it, which seriously interfered with my goal for the year, which I discuss below. The worse thing is that I knew about a chapter in that it wasn’t going to work for me but I find it VERY hard to stop reading a book once I’ve started. Don’t be like me- if you want to read more than you need to quit when you’re ahead and get rid of the books you don’t like.
Now that you have a selection of books that make you excited to get reading, it’s time for the next step.
READ MORE BY LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT MOMENTS
6. Read before bed
Reading before bed has been the main way I’ve kept my reading habit going, but I earlier this year I realized I was spending more and more time in bed at night browsing on my phone instead. My husband and I made the call to remove the phones from our bedroom in an effort to stop this habit. The bonus was it had a massive improvement on our sleep (if that’s something you’re struggling with, check out 10 tips to a better night’s sleep). Get into bed 30 minutes before you need to be asleep and read.
7. Read in the morning
This isn’t one I do much of to be honest, except for the weekends. However James Clear claims the secret to his reading success is to read 20 pages at the start of every day, which he says can be achieved in about 30 minutes. If it works for him, it’s definitely worth trying!
8. Use wait time
We have many times in a day when we’re waiting for things. Maybe we’re waiting for our coffee at the café or at the doctor’s waiting for an appointment. Maybe we’re at the hairdresser’s waiting for our color to set, or at our daughter’s dance lesson waiting for her to finish. Rather than pulling out our phones or reading magazines, seize the opportunity to read your book instead.
9. Double down
When I was younger I read literally ALL the time. I could read in the car without getting sick, so every journey was a chance to get me some more book. I even recall walking to the bus stop with my nose in a novel, and then reading on the ride to school. From these examples I could see that I didn’t so much stop everything and read- I took activities I was already doing and added reading to them. What things do you currently do that you could add reading to? Commuting is perhaps the easiest way to do this, as well as other forms of travel such as flights. I hate to say it, but sitting on the toilet is another winner. If you’re a fan of audiobooks, you could try listening to them instead of music when you go for a walk or run.
10. Switch out your mindless internet browsing for reading
If you’re like me, there’s a chunk of dead time most evenings when you go to Facebook, head on over to Twitter, then round up with a few articles on Pinterest before repeating the cycle. Try switching out this time by reading your book instead.
If you’ve read these last five suggestions, you’ll see one super important thing- to make these work, and to read more, your book needs to be near you. Keep your book in your handbag. When you get home, take it out and pop in on the couch. Proximity equals convenience which means it’s much more likely you’ll turn to your book than your other usual options.
READ MORE BY TYING READING TO GOALS AND REWARDS
11. Set a goal for the year
Setting goals for your reading can be a great way to motivate yourself to read more. This year my goal is to read 50 books, 10 of which I wanted to be non-fiction (you’ll notice I haven’t talked much about non-fiction here, as the kind of non-fiction I read is usually related to personal growth. I can’t read these kind of books without taking notes, so I view them more as study than reading!). I’m currently up to 36 which is a little less than I’d like to be – caused in part by the book Wool I mentioned above and also that I read A Clash of Kings (from the Game of Thrones series), which, at almost 800 pages of small type, took me over six weeks. While I won’t meet my non-fiction target, I’m still hoping to reach my overall goal. I record what I read and the date I finished it, and it gives me pleasure to look back and read my list.
12. Read as a reward for unpleasant tasks
When you complete an unpleasant task, or something you have been procrastinating on, give yourself 10 to 15 minutes reading as a reward. This helps to reinforce in your brain that reading is a pleasure and something to be valued.
13. Buy books to treat yourself
90% of my books are second hand- I only keep those books I love and had such a massive stack of ones I didn’t, that trading them in for “new” ones kept me going for several years without having to hand over a dollar. However I DID allow myself to buy those books I was collecting, which were usually ones by my favorite authors or particular series. Those purchases felt special and waiting to read them filled me with anticipation.
14. Have a tempting TBR pile
I have my TBR (to be read) pile on my bedside table. If I don’t have three or four books on there, something feels wrong. I love reading a book but also knowing that I have some super exciting ones coming up as well. This increases my anticipation, as mentioned above, and motivates me to speed through what I’m currently reading.
15. Join a book-club
I’m not a huge fan of book-clubs because you lose that element of personal choice. However they do give you a target and also the discussion can be really interesting, particularly if you’ve picked something a little controversial. If you can’t make a physical bookclub, there are virtual ones you can join as well.
Reading adds a whole dimension to your life. A good book will take you to another world like nothing else can. Through books I have learned that I am never alone because other people have experienced the same emotions and events as I have. You deserve the pleasure that is an excellent book. I hope these tips help you add more reading into your life!
P.S. In case you’re interested – these are my top five picks from my reading list so far in 2017!
- Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton. Now I haven’t actually READ this yet (in fact I bought it today) but I can guarantee it will be on the top 5. This is Grafton’s penultimate book which started with A is for Alibi. I read A is for Alibi around 1989 when I was 15 years old. It was a freebie with a Cosmo magazine, and I’ve been a follower of the series ever since, so that promotion worked! The series features a tough female private investigator in the 1980s so all her sleuthing is done the old fashioned way. I can’t believe the series is almost at an end!
Update: Unfortunately Sue passed away in late December 2017, meaning that, for all us fans of the series, “the alphabet ends at Y”. Thanks for all those years of pleasure, Sue. At those times in my life when I was very lonely, reading a new novel by you gave me all the comfort of being with an old friend.
- After You by Jojo Moyes. I loved Me Before You. I found it challenged my thoughts and beliefs on life as a quadriplegic and also on assisted suicide. So it was great to revisit Louisa in particular for the next stage in her story.
- The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I had no idea the main character in this was an alcoholic, and as someone who had a drinking problem, some of this brought back some uncomfortable memories. However it was also a reminder of the above- that you are never alone – someone else has experienced what you have, even if that some one is a character in a book. Knowing this gives you a strong degree of self-compassion. All that aside, the story was believable and gripping.
- The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbo. This book is part of the Harry Hole series. He’s a Norwegian detective, who interestingly also battles with the drink. I’ve tried reading Nesbo’s book The Redeemerseveral times before and not been able to get into it – I think it’s because it’s a little clunky in the beginning- this time I tried with The Devil’s Star, and boom! I was hooked. I read another two in the series after this, so have lumped these all together.
- My fave for the year has to be Home by Harlan Coben. Harlan Coben is my favorite author and Myron Bolitar is one of my favorite characters. I was so disappointed when Coben said he wouldn’t be writing any more Myron books- and then came this one- and it was everything a fan could hope for. I can totally recommend this series- start at the beginning with Dealbreaker.
What books get you fired up to read? Do you have any reading hacks to share? I’d love to know!
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