TIPSY TUESDAY | How To Be a Better Reader - Candice from Magnolia Reads
Hello friends! My name is Candice, and I am a book blogger based out of YEG.
I LOVE reading and have been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. I started reading early and my parents were always more than happy to indulge my never ending thirst for more books, the next story, a new set of adventures. I avidly collected The Babysitters Club books, then the Sweet Valley Junior High novels, and of course eventually graduated to the Sweet Valley High adventures. Elizabeth and Jessica were my wonderfully unrealistic expectation of high school (all the more so considering I went to a high school in a tiny summer village where the grand total of students topped out at around 47). I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have a book on hand.
This casual hobby of mine followed me right on in to adulthood. I would read books and trade recommendations with friends, and it was never something I really thought about to hard. Until I joined Instagram.
Suddenly this brand new world opened up to me – there was a whole COMMUNITY of people who were dedicated to reading books, reviewing books and chatting about all the bookish things. I was hooked on Bookstagram from the beginning – think of all the new books I could find out about, and tips and tricks I could pick up for how to read MORE! One thing led to another, and before long I found myself running a book blog of my very own and reading advanced copies of upcoming books for authors and publishers all over the world. It has been a BLAST.
Somehow this has landed me as an unofficial reading authority, and I often get asked some of the same questions over and over again – how do you read so many books and how can I start reading more in my own life? Let me let you in on some bookish secrets…….
First, and most importantly, full disclosure: one of the biggest factors of why I can read so many books in a year (I average between 125-150 books a year) is because I am a natural speed reader. Chalk it up to genes or practice or a combination of the two, but it there is no magic trick to what I do. It’s also important to remember that reading fast does you no good if you aren’t retaining what you are reading, which is why I will always adamantly tell new readers that speed DOES. NOT. MATTER. Read at your own pace, this is not a reading race!
There ARE however, ways for just about anyone to become a BETTER reader:
1 – Practice
Honestly, practice makes perfect. The more I read, the better I become at it. It’s working your brain in a very specific way, and like working any muscle, consistent and repetitive action will make it stronger. I can assure you that if you start reading consistently even a few times a week, you will find your reading pace picks up in no time.
2 – Consistency
I read every single day. I might not read a lot in a day, but I read every day. This is because reading is my personal key to unwinding in a day – I would much rather pick up a book than turn on the TV or stare at my phone, but that’s not to say that is everyone’s preference. You don’t need to read every day to be a better reader, but finding consistent time in your week to dedicate to a bit of reading will certainly help. This can be in any small way – read a chapter with your morning coffee before your day starts. Maybe you take your book with you, and read while you have your lunch at your desk. Or my personal favorite, reading right before bed.
Science already tells us that staring at screens before trying to go to sleep is incredibly disruptive to our sleep patterns, but reading a book before bed?
No problem at all! (Well….unless the plot pulls you in and suddenly its 2 am and you are waking up your partner to explain that you NEVER SAW THAT TWIST COMING. But this is a risk that is worth taking!) Just make a choice to dedicate some set, non-negotiable time to read in your week. Before long you will have a reading habit on your hands, and making time won’t seem like such a hard bargain into your schedule. You might even end up with your own book blog!
3 – Preparedness
I always have a book on me in some form, because I NEVER KNOW when I might find myself with a few spare minutes to jump in. This is so easy because books come in every conceivable form in this day and age. I might remember to grab my physical book on the way out the door, or I have a Kindle that I could be reading on, and it’s easier to pack along. And if my Kindle isn’t with me? I have the Kindle app on my phone which syncs to my Kindle at home, so I can just pick up where I left off. NO PROBLEMS HERE!
How often do you find yourself in a day, with little chunks of time to kill? Getting your oil changed? Reading time. Waiting for your lunch? Reading time. Kids hockey game hasn’t started yet? Reading time. It may seem like you have no spare minutes in your day, but when you start looking for them, you will find them cropping up EVERYWHERE. The biggest hurdle to this one is not giving into the natural reflex of scrolling through your phone in those time chunks. Instead grab your book and squish in a couple chapters. You will be amazed by one, how productive you feel, and two, how quickly you find yourself finishing books all the sudden. Plus, there is the added bonus that you are cutting way back on internet zombie hours in your day, stopping you from taking the 37 th Buzzfeed quiz of the week about which Mean Girl you are most like.
4 – Find your format
Personally, I prefer a physical book. To be more specific, I prefer a trade paperback above all else (the slightly bigger, floppy kind). That is the most comfortable format for me to read in, and what I am drawn to most often. But as I mentioned, I have a Kindle, and I have gotten much better at reading on it in the last two years. It might not be as pretty, and it lacks the new book smell, but it really IS so convenient especially if you are a) reading in the bathtub or b) trying to eat/breastfeed/walk the dog/vacuum at the same time.
I’ve also started dabbling in audiobooks this year, which are great because you can listen to them while ACTUALLY doing a second activity including driving, cleaning your house or cooking dinner. Plus, I must admit, some of the voice work done on audiobooks has completely enhanced the experience of the book for me in a way I never would have considered had I read it myself. This is to say – find the format (or formats) that best work for you. You’ll be more compelled to read if you are comfortable doing it.
5 – Read what is interesting to YOU
This is the great trap that readers regularly get caught in. You feel like if you ARE going to dedicated your valuable time to reading, you should be reading something specific – maybe a professional development book, or that hot new mystery thriller that you keep hearing about (even though you hate mysteries), or possibly a classic because you really haven’t ever actually read anything by Ernest Hemingway, despite the fact that you were very excited to visit the Hemingway bar in Cuba on vacation last year.
Don’t. Do. It. This is the quickest way to sabotage yourself because I promise, you will NOT enjoy reading that book you don’t really want to read, which means you won’t make time to read, which means bingo bango, you aren’t becoming a better reader. There is literally no wrong book to read as long as it sparks an interest for you. Maybe you want to completely disconnect and read a trashy erotic romance novel – DO IT. Perhaps you have endless interest in reading true crime novels – GET THEM ALL. Hell, maybe you are the person who just devours leadership books like M&M’s – FILL YOUR BOOTS. The key is never WHAT you read, its that you are READING. Reading for pleasure should be…..well, pleasurable. If it’s not, you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. Put that book right on down, and find yourself something else that sucks you in.
It is as easy as that. A few quick tricks and within days you will be feeling like an unofficial reading authority, just like me! Joking aside, there is one last secret to let you in on – you are ALREADY a reader. You’re reading this aren’t you? Exactly. Don’t be so hard on yourself. A book might take you a day, or a week or a month to finish, and that is JUST FINE. You might not finish every book you start because it wasn’t the right fit for you as a reader and that is JUST FINE. You might fall completely in love with reading and how it makes you feel, and pick up MORE books, and that too, is JUST FINE. Reading is the easiest thing to fall in love with, so let those books do the wooing. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
Candice S | Magnolia Reads