Fall in love with reading again
Diane Hahn, MSLS, Information Services Librarian & Bad Apple Book Club Advisor,
For some people, the early weeks of stay at home orders and quarantine presented golden opportunities for their reading habits. Suddenly, they had lots of time to catch up on all those books they’ve been meaning to read for months. Book lovers could spend whole days reading and avoiding people without having to feel guilty. It’s hard to deny the lure and magic of a good book. There are few ways better than reading to take a break from real-life stresses and escape for a while. Books can also help you make sense of changing world or introduce you to a new idea or different perspective.
I’m a little jealous if you’ve been able to read these past few months. I’ve been in a reading slump for years, one so bad, that apparently not even a global pandemic forcing me to stay inside could shake me out of it. Twelve-year-old me, she who was forged from the Pizza Hut Book-It challenge, RIF (Reading is Fundamental) program, and Scholastic flyers and Book Fairs would be really disappointed. She became a librarian, no less, and here we still are. Although, I’m pretty sure me not reading regularly isn’t the only 2020 event twelve-year-old me would be appalled by.
I’m not alone. I've heard from coworkers and friends who didn’t exactly find the comfort and relief in reading they expected to these last several months either. Sometimes just making it through the day uses up everything you have and there’s nothing left to give to a book, no matter how magical that book may be to someone else or at a different time. Maybe you weren’t a regular reader even before all of this. I’m not sure what is worse, not reading at all or forcing yourself to read when you absolutely aren’t enjoying it. Finding the right book, at the right moment, to create the magic that keeps you reading, can be challenging.
There are some things I do when I’m having a tough go of reading that usually get me through one book enjoyably. Knowing that one day, that one book will be the end of this slump gives me hope.
Try a different genre or format
Having something you can finish in a sitting or two or can spend just a few minutes with at a time can be a great spark. I usually turn to graphic novels, young adult titles, essays, and short story collections when I need a boost. Despite their often shorter length, they don’t sacrifice plot, characters, or other elements of a good story.
Listen to the audiobook and read the print or eBook version
Listening to a book while my hands are occupied with chores or exercise can get me invested in the book enough that I just have to keep reading when I'm done and it’s time to relax. This also works if you’re returning to your commute. Audiobook in the car, while the print or eBook keeps the story going between drives.
Reread an old favorite
Revisiting an old friend is low risk (you won’t miss anything in case your mind isn’t always focused on the page) but you’ll still get that finished book gratification and momentum at the end. It can also remind you what you like about reading in case you’ve hit a string of not so great books that are affecting your motivation.
Join or participate in a book discussion club or group
They can be intimidating. Yes, they might make you read a book you usually would not. Not all will be the right fit or an enjoyable social experience for you. But when you find the right one, with the right people, the benefits far outweigh the effort. Reading outside of your comfort zone can be a good thing and help you grow as reader and a person. For me, there is nothing more motivational than knowing I have a deadline to meet and I’d be letting my fellow members down if I didn’t finish. Whether everyone loved it, hated it, or felt something in between, dissecting and talking about a book with others can be just as fun as reading it.
Keep adding to your To Be Read List
I still scour new releases and save recommendations from reviewers and friends for books I might read later. Their enthusiasm and love of books can be infectious. BookRiot, LibraryReads, and the IndieNext List are my go tos, not only for hot off the press titles, but also for backlist ones I may have missed when they first were released. Year-end best lists (like GoodReads Choice Awards 2019) and mid-year best books so far lists (like USA Today’s) are also great places to look for your next favorite book.
Set a daily goal
Make it attainable. 5 minutes is usually suggested. It can grow and spiral quickly from there. A good day to start? Why not National Book Lover’s Day – August 9?
Northampton Community College's Bethlehem Campus Paul and Harriett Mack and Monroe Campus ESSA Bank & Trust Foundation libraries maintain a diverse collection of materials to support the educational programs of the college. A comprehensive collection of books, periodicals, newspapers, audiovisual materials, and electronic resources provides students with both intellectual and cultural enrichment. Find more information here.