Tips to Make Your Reading Life the Best it Can Be
Make it something that brings you as much joy as possible
I’m so glad you are here, and I’m even happier that you enjoy reading. If your reading life feels a little off for some reason, it can also make the rest of your life feel a little off. I know that I use reading as an escape when I get stressed by work, and if I’m not happy in my reading life, I’m not a very happy person. Wanting to make your reading life better is different from a reading slump or finding time to read, as I wrote about before; this is about doing small, easy things to give you even more enjoyment from your reading life.
We are all in different places in our lives; some of us have kids, some have a spouse/partner, and others, maybe all or none of the above. Some of the tips may not work for where you are in life right now; perhaps you will need to do a little planning to make others work. These tips don’t cost money and take very little time, but the rewards will help you make your reading life the best it can be. There’s nothing new here and no great revelations, just little tweaks to help you get as much enjoyment from your favorite pastime.
Now, on to the tips:
Take your time and savor what you read - Don’t speed read. Reading books, like eating good food and drinking wine, should be done at a pace to enjoy what you are reading and remember what you just read. Sometimes you need to just sit with the book and savor it. Use the time to reflect and understand why the book means so much to you and what made it such a great book.
Journal your reading - Write in your journal what made the book so special to you. Was it the author, the plot, or the characters, or did it maybe take you somewhere you haven’t been before? Perhaps it took you back to a time in your life that was important to you. Use your journals in the years to come to remember how a book made you feel.
Read the extras in the book - Always read the introduction, prologue, epilogue, author’s notes, and even the book club questions. Be careful, as sometimes there is spoiler information in one or more of these sections. Having additional information can sometimes shed light on characters or plots that you hadn’t thought of before.
Don’t save the book you’ve been excited to read for “some later date” - If you had the opportunity to eat your favorite food for dinner tonight, would you choose to eat something else instead? Read the book that you were so excited to read when you bought it or put it on hold at the library. Enjoy the experience you knew you would have with this book. Delayed gratification is not helping your reading life.
Don’t hesitate to quit a book that’s not holding your interest - If it’s a genre or author you usually read, it just may not be the right time for that great book. If you ventured out of your comfort zone and tried something new, then it may be the book. But for now, set it aside and pick up a book you are excited to read and start reading it.
Write in your books - If you own the book, the book police won’t come and get you if you write in your books. Take notes in the margins, underline/highlight passages, quotes, or things you want to remember. Get involved in the characters; write things down that help you remember how they are related to the other characters. Note in the margins places you want to travel to, things you want to see that the book reminds you of. If you can’t bring yourself to write in your books, this is a good use of a journal.
Find someone to discuss the book with - I love talking books with others, and I enjoy talking about all the nuances of the characters and the plot. We think we have it figured out why something happened or why a character did what they did, but getting someone else’s perspective can shed new light on the book.
Look through the author’s backlist for your next great book to read - If you read something by a “new to you” author and loved it, check their backlist to get your next great read. I often do this when I’ve really enjoyed the book I just finished and didn’t get enough of it.
Treat yourself to a “date night” with a book - Pamper yourself. Set aside time to read by gathering up your favorite book, pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage, sit in your favorite place to read, and just enjoy. Pre-planning may be needed for something like this, but treat yourself occasionally to a special time with a book.
Find some Bookstagram creators to follow - I love bookstagram; I love looking at what others are reading. I enjoy seeing pretty pictures of books in staged and natural settings. The creativity of some of these people just amazes me. Find a few people that have similar reading tastes, and you’ll never run out of suggestions for your next book to read.
Listen to podcasts about authors and books you love - If you like podcasts, this is a great way to add fun and interesting information about books and authors you enjoy reading. If it’s a new release, you can usually find an episode with the author where they talk about the book, their writing process and often learn all kinds of fun things. I’ve written about podcasts in the past here and here. A podcast can help you put the cherry on top of a great book by learning more about the book and the author.
Reading challenge - A great reading challenge can expand your reading horizons and introduce you to books you might not have picked up otherwise. Several bloggers and podcasters create reading challenges at the beginning of the year that focus on specific goals such as diversity, classics, or any number of other targets. Reading challenges can be related to genre, locality, authors, you name it, and you can even create your own challenge based on what you want to learn more about in your reading life.
Join a book club - Last but not least, joining a book club can open new doors to your reading life. A book club allows you to connect with others and talk about the books you love. It also puts books into your hands that you might not choose for yourself. I’ll admit that it is often difficult to find the right book club, and you usually have to try out several, but when you find the right one, it can give so much meaning to your reading life. I’ve got some tips on helping you find the right book club in an upcoming newsletter.
I hope I’ve given you a few ideas to make your reading life even better. To turn the last page in a book and be able to say, “what a great read” is just the best feeling in the world for readers. While reading is a solitary venture most of the time, I love connecting with other readers and learning more about what makes their reading lives great. If you’ve got some tips on how you have made your reading life even better, I’d love to hear them.