How ready are you for the Year of Reading?

(Note: This post is mostly geared to the residents of the UAE, but most are generic reading habits for everyone.)

Ever since the announcement that 2016 would be the Year of Reading here in the UAE, it’s hard not to notice the bustle.

First the unanimous rejoicing of bookworms everywhere, and taking to their social media accounts to share their current reads and challenges (yours truly included).

Second was the government retreat that took place earlier this month, which consisted of government officials and different sectors pitching and brainstorming ideas for what initiatives should take place this year.

Though the Year of Reading has already begun, there’s no doubt that things will pick up — a blur of activities will soon be coming our way.

Fortunately, one of the many things bookworms love to do (besides finding endless amount of time to read and judging people for not doing the same) is to share the love of reading.

As an avid reader (who is slowly losing her edge), I wanted to take the time to list a few things that worked for me and a few of my friends, and which could help you gear up for the Year of Reading.

Join a Book Network

Even though reading is a lonesome activity, it’s always fun to be where all the readers are — to share what you’re currently reading, what you want to read, and what you’ve read. You never know what you’ll be exposed to when you friend people with the similar interests to yours.

While there are a few of those book community platforms around, the best one that’s still standing is Goodreads.

One of my favorite things about Goodreads is the annual reading goal counter that members have to set for themselves. The counter automatically tracks your progress, and notifies you if you’re behind, ahead or on the right pace. There are also authors on there that readers could get in touch with or read their blogs. Goodreads also has an app, with a cool scanning feature that brings up review details about a book you’re interested in.

Alternative book community networks include Shelfari and Librarything.

Graphic Works

Seconds by Brian Lee O’Malley

This may be a surprise to some people, but reading isn’t limited to only prose and poetry. Graphic novels and comics work too as they are considered forms of storytelling, and does count as reading material. Many books are being turned to graphic novels anyway — so do your research and pick one!

Beware the Slump

Experienced readers will sometimes tell you about the Dark Times of Reading; better known as the reading slump. Reading slumps are awful. It’s when you’re stuck on one book for too long, either because it doesn’t interest you, or the book gets boring all of a sudden, or because you’re so adamant to go through it despite all the signs telling you that are over this book.

This is normal. And the cure is — put the book down. Bid it farewell, and start something new. Being stuck on one book can take a toll on your reading pace, and you don’t want to slow down when there are better stories out there.

Give Thanks to Second-Hand

If you’re one of those new readers who are budget conscience, you’ll appreciate the little treasure troves that sell second-hand books.

There are two places where you can get your hands on used books:

1) Thrift Books (Abu Dhabi): This place is an unorganized bibliophile’s cave. At first glance, it feels claustrophic to be in such a tight place, but then the sight of hardbacks and paperbacks stacked from floor to ceiling is enough to make you forget where you are.

2) Book ‘n Bean Café (Abu Dhabi): Located at Ace Hardware store on Yas Island — I haven’t yet traded with this place yes, but you can bet I’ll be visiting it often!

Others that I know but haven’t been to:

- House of Prose (Dubai)

- The Old Library (Dubai)

On the Go

My favorite time to start browsing my unread books is during travel time. It’s usually the first thing I start packing… Okay, fine — it’s always the first thing I start packing.

All the waiting time at the airport and during flights is time well spent when you have a book in hand. It’s also a lifesaver during long road trips, or even in the morning, during breakfast.


It used to be that reading requires some heavy-duty work. Have you tried carrying a hardback around? It can be a pain! But things have become as easy as just carrying around your phone. That’s right — apps like Kindle or iBook have made it easy to access books any time, anywhere. So whenever you find yourself bored in class or in a meeting, use your time wisely and bring up a book.

Stay on Track

This can be as daunting as trying to put a resolution every year, but it really isn’t. Setting a goal for yourself can be fun, especially when you work through your list. You don’t have to put for yourself an outrageously big number — you can start small, and pace yourself from there. Once you reach your mini-goal, you can increase the number, and keep going.

A really cool app for this is called Bookling. Or, as I mentioned above, Goodreads works quite well too.

The Commitment Game

That’s right. While reading has it’s fun and upside, it can be hard sometimes to find the time to read. Especially with such a fast-paced life as we know it, and full of other modes of entertainment. But like most things, you need to find the determination to stay committed to your reading.

You can make an appointment to turn off all electronic distractions and focus on the task at hand. Allocate a specific amount of time for some undisturbed reading — even 10 minutes as you sip your morning coffee before starting work counts towards something! You can also arrange reading dates with friends, meet at a café or someone’s house, and start reading together (in silence).

The Book Plan

Okay, so you don’t have the time to go out and pick a book. Maybe you don’t even know where to order online. Guess what — there is a monthly book plan!

One that I’m currently signed up for is OwlCrate, which delivers internationally. OwlCrate sends a box on a monthly basis, and consists of book swag and one Young Adult book. So if you don’t know where to start — start with this. Reading a book a month is better than none at all.

As you can see, there are plenty of things to try out for the Year of Reading — and this is probably just me scratching the surface. But my advice to you is — try any of these combinations and make it a habit.

And with that, I welcome you to the pragmatic life of a bookworm.

Happy reading!

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