Relax, rest and up your reading quota.
Last week I asked what you lot wanted to see in my October ‘An Edited Life’ newsletter (it dropped this morning btw so check yo’ inboxes because Mailchimp should have done it’s thing by now). Amongst a tonne of questions about how I store my jewellery which could be answered with just one link*, the other most frequent request was to give you my advice on how to up your reading game. Now this is a topic that requires a little more than just the one link, however it’s also a topic that’s been covered in the newsletter before. So I thought I’d dig my tips out of the archive and share them here, along with some new ones about how I’ve taken my reading list from a measly one or two books a year, to currently 26 in 2019 and counting. If only I could have done the same when I was at Uni, eh?
Reading is my medicine. It chills me out like no other and in a world where I pick up my phone way too often, and scroll way too much, it’s a moment to press pause. I remember begging my parents for a chair in my bedroom when I was younger, so that I’d have a place to read books and I’d pretend that I was an adult who’d just got back from a long day in the office and that my bedroom was in fact my studio flat in the city. I’d curl up and read my book in my chair and sip my water pretending it was wine. Back then it made me feel like an adult and now it takes me back to my childhood; either way it’s a hobby that pushes the scales towards some kind of balance in my life and it’s important to notice that. So here’s how I’ve made it a priority for me over the past couple of years…
SET YOURSELF A CHALLENGE. Because I am a teacher’s pet people-pleaser I love to succeed at a challenge (I AM SO FUN). My inner-boffin struggles with failure, so sometimes setting myself a challenged that I’ve vocalised to others, is the only sure-fire way to get me to see something through to completion. Case in point: my Goodreads 2019 reading challenge. 30 books in a year, for my 30th year on this planet. It’s doable, but there’s an air of caution to it and because of that I’m treating it almost like a work task (hear me out as I promise it’s still enjoyable!). I’m making it a priority, not feeling guilty for taking time to read everyday, keeping notes of what books I’m excited to read next and updating my Goodreads diligently. The more I take it seriously, the more I read and the more chilled out I become in many aspects of life – WIN, WIN.
JOIN GOODREADS. Speaking of which, I highly recommend a Goodreads account even if you don’t fancy setting yourself up with a yearly challenge. It’s like any other social media platform, but for books so you can follow your mates, celebs or other bloggers on there and see what they are reading, what they want to read and get inspiration for what you fancy adding to your list. It’s a really good place to share recommendations too and read reviews. I’ve just logged in and seen that someone I follow is reading ‘Ask Again, Yes’ by Mary Beth Keane* which sounds right up my street and I’ve added to my list immediately. Next time you’re feeling stuck you can just consult your list. Neat, tidy and it keeps all things reading in one place.
READ ALL-DAY. Now I don’t actually mean read all day here. More just read at various points throughout the day, instead of your typical pre-bed routine. Personally I love to read before bed, there are few greater delights than feeling your eyes getting heavy and not really remembering how you fell asleep. But for those who fall asleep the minute they read the first word on the page (a.k.a Mark – bless him), it doesn’t make for the most satisfying reading experience. So why not read in the morning first thing when you wake up, or on your commute, or in your lunchbreak, or before you start making dinner in the evenings, or instead of your Netflix binge? I’ve started to reward myself with little 15 minute sessions once or twice a day when I finish bigger tasks and it’s really helped me to up the book ante.
TRAVEL IS INCREDIBLE. I do most of my reading in bed or at home nuzzled up in-between the two centre pillows of the sofa which is my happy place. But I also do a large amount of my reading on trains and on planes. If you have a commute or any international journeys taking place anytime soon then do not let this opportunity just pass by with aimless phone scrolling – READ. My latest book was over 700 pages long and it would have taken me yonks to get through had I not spent every minute on the flights to Lisbon, Mallorca and back chowing down on pages. I still don’t believe I ever would have got through ‘A Little Life’* had I not been lucky enough to be invited on a trip to Vietnam. It’s a golden reading opportunity, so make the most of it. It’s even better if you’re a bit freaked out by flying. Find a book and make sure you’re ‘into it’ before you take off – it’s the perfect distraction.
READ WHAT YOU WANT TO READ. I used to love reading as a child and would visit the library with my Mum every couple of weeks to slowly work my way through every Sweet Valley High and Babysitter’s Club book they had. Then University took the joy out of reading for a solid three years. THANKS UNI. Since then I dabbled, picking up non-fiction and self-help books mostly, reading halfway through and losing interest. I LOVE CHIC LIT DAMMIT. So I returned to my roots, reading page-turning fiction; love stories, tales of relationships, breakdowns, your twenties, your thirties, funny stories, sad stories, psychological thrillers. Turns out when you have a pile of books or a list on your Kindle that you actually *want* to read and you’re excited to read, you might actually do it.
JOIN A BOOK CLUB. Joining a bookclub will officially make you feel like an adult (FACT), and it not only gives you a monthly social guarantee, it also makes you accountable for the one book that you need to read in the given timeframe. If you need a bit of a rocket up your arse then this is the option for you. Ask around for local groups, or scour Facebook for ones in your area. If you fancy an online version then have a look for my Instagram stories, where I share my monthly book club series ‘The Book Edit‘ – snappily named right? *rolls eyes at self* Find the book, read along and then at the end of the month we’ll all chime in with our thoughts. You in?
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Photos by Mark Newton