Building A Reading Habit
To be a writer means to be a reader. This is the first thing every “How to Become a Writer/Author” page will tell you. There might, of course, be exceptions to this rule, but I believe it to have a lot of truth in it. Since I started writing myself, I realised that my reading has changed, too. I read a piece of dialogue and wonder how the author managed to clearly signpost who says what without writing “he said”/”she said” all the time. I read the first chapter of a novel, marvelling at that catching opening sentence.
While writing has made me read differently, it hasn’t made me read more yet. I’ve always liked reading, but I had to remove it from my priority list because there were other things that were more important to me in the last few years. However, now that I’m getting more serious about making writing my job in some way or another, I must move it up on my priority list. Thus, I’m trying to build a real reading habit and here’s how I do that.
Getting Into Goodreads
I had heard of the Goodreads website a lot, but I never saw a reason why I should use it. But as I was exploring the world of readers and writers, I read so much about the amazing community over there, so I got myself an account. In addition to the three standard bookshelves, which are ‘Want to Read’, ‘Currently Reading’ and ‘Read’, I added one custom shelf, ‘Reading List’, which includes all the books I need to read for my English literature exam next semester. This organisation by shelves provides a great overview and it makes it easier to decide what to read next.
‘Want to Read’
On this shelf, I obviously keep the books I want to read. However, as I also have my ‘Reading List’ shelf, this one mostly includes those books I want to read personally. In order to keep my motivation for the English classics up, I alternate Reading List books with leisure books, so as I’m reading one for myself right now, the next one in line will be Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.
Again, the title basically says it all. I usually have two to three books on this shelf, meaning that I read several books at the same time. I do so because I’ve got a course on 20th Century Plays at uni, which means that I have to read a play every week. In order not to disrupt my flow of ‘actual’ books, I read several things simultaneously.
All the books I read end up on this shelf. I’ve got it linked to the sidebar of my blog so that everyone can see my recent reviews and ratings.
I’ve recently written a post on the advantages of e-reading over on Stepabout. One main advantage of e-books for me is that I have them with me at all times. I never leave home without my iPad anyway, so my books are always with me and I can read a few pages whenever I have a minute to spare. Even if these intervals are short, they do add up!
Reading Every Day
One of the main reasons why I stopped reading regularly during the last few years was an acute lack of time, and I guess that is it for most people. However, reading just a few pages a day adds up and will get you through a book in a few weeks, even if you have just 15 minutes a day. And 15 minutes is something everyone has, you just need to find out where they are in your case. You might find your daily 15 minutes on the toilet, on the bus, during breaks between classes or before going to bed. Maybe you have three times five minutes — that adds up to 15 minutes, too.
So this is how I’m currently trying to build my reading habit. Are you an avid reader or do you, like I used to, think that you just don’t have the time?