Thirteen relatively easy, tried and true favorite ways to bridge that reading void.
1) Return to an old-favorite.
There is a reason why we always feel like we are returning home again, use that nostalgia, excitement, and passion to get you back to being the reading machine you truly are!
2) Make an achievable goal.
Many of us use the Goodreads annual Reading Challenge as an impetus to get that reading in, but are we being realistic with the number that we goal ourselves with? Set an attainable goal that makes sense for your life; this way you will feel on task, rather than always miserably behind.
3) Keep a reading record.
This goes hand in hand with suggest #2, but by keeping a record of the works you make your way through in pursuit of achieving that awesome goal, it will be a marker of what you have read. Who doesn’t love looking through all of the texts they read in a month, a year, or more? I sure do!
4) Discuss the work online.
Whether you Tweet, Review, or Blog about what you are reading, some feedback from the online reading community may be the boost you need to: Finish That Book!
5) Write about the text.
While #4 looks at the inspiration dialogue can have in helping you, this suggestion focuses on the magic of writing and vocalizing ideas that the text you are reading brings to you. This too can be accomplished by tweeting, reviewing, or blogging about the work. It can also be an act just for you if you write about it in an unpublished format or in a journal.
6) Incorporate your reading into your journal.
This can be done a multitude of ways. You can have a specific Reading Journal, you can utilize a Bullet Journal and have a section for reading there, or you can add entries in your personal journal where you see fit. The latter is the option that I have utilized for the last few years. I record a quote I loved from a text after I finish it. Not only does this create a great list of quotes that I can flip through when I am in the mood, but it also creates another reason for me to want to finish that text: I have multiple goals at work.
7) Interact with what you are reading.
Are you reading closely? Are you reading too quickly and not absorbing information? Assess how you are reading and make sure that you are actively reading.
8) Turn this read into a personal project.
Luckily for us readers, there are so many excellent and fun projects that we can turn our latest reading adventure into. You can engage in a simple annotation project, which will force you to read closely and actively. You can use the text as inspiration in a “creative annotation,” where you create some form of painting, sculpture, photograph, drawing, graphic design, etc. off of it. I do both of these projects with my college students with marvelous results.
9) Read with a buddy.
Whether that buddy lives near or far, whether you take turns with the book or read it at the same time; having a friend who can motivate you and then gush about the details later can be both a fun and rewarding experience!
10) Create a reading project geared towards a reading buddy.
Once in a summer break from college, I decided to reread The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and to have my then-boyfriend read it. We were living in our home states for summer break and I was feeling the angst of being apart. What would be more romantic, the nineteen year old me wondered, then filling my book with notes of my thoughts? Adverse to actually writing in the book at that time, I used post-it notes to fill up the book with love notes and my reactions to different sections. This way when he read the book he could feel like he was reading it with me right beside him. Truthfully, it was a fun and whimsical project and perhaps one that I may one day replicate. New book, new man: next time!
11) Join or make a book club.
There are plenty of online book clubs, as well as many open to the public in your local community. This year my fiancé, best friend, her husband, and I all goaled ourselves to read or re-read (depending on the person) the Harry Potter series. I have read this beloved series countless times (I lost count), my best friend had read it once as a child and on through teenage years, but our men folk had never had the pleasure (I know, shocking!). We have formed an informal book club that has pushed us all to enjoy the books with people we love and can now go on long Harry Potter rants and discussions with.
12) Sign up to review a book or ARC.
I don’t know about you, but when I agree to do something for someone else (here a publisher, editor, or author) then I generally have a better chance of following through with that goal. There are so many books out there waiting for review, they are literally giving them away!
13) Do not narrowly define what reading means to you.
Too often we categorize reading as the act of working through a physical book. Yes, still in 2019, many people still turn their noses up at e-books, audiobooks, and other new-fangled (not that new-fangled anymore) formats to consume texts. I am embarrassed to admit that until a few years ago, I was one of those snobs (and book snobs can be the worst kind—we know so many words and allusions). Yet, now I use my time when I am unable to physically read a book to listen to audiobooks. The more text I enjoy, in any format, means that the higher my excitement will be and then the higher my reading tally goes.
Regardless, make time for yourself to enjoy reading. You deserve it!
Bekka Lee Trapp is an English Adjunct Professor at two colleges in New Jersey. Some of her poetry is featured in the fall 2014 edition of East Coast Literary Review. Her work has received two awards from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and she has also been awarded a prize from the New Jersey College English Association 37th Annual Conference.