I’ve been getting so many people asking me how I am able to read so many books in such a short time. I felt like I should share my reading experience to help others read more books, because at the ending of the day, reading is fundamental!
I have to admit that during this unprecedented times of Covid-19, and being under lockdown, I have found a lot more time to read. I don’t think I would have been able read as much during regular times.
My Own Reading Journey (Skip below to next part if you want the answer)
My love for reading began when I saw my elder brother reading books by Stephen King (The Stand, IT) and I started off from there. I was particularly drawn to horror books as that’s my preferred genre. However, I started reading current fiction books, which led me to read more Middle Eastern centric books (as I was based in Saudi Arabia/ UAE). Not all genres excite me- even though I try reading through them.
Then came a time when my reading really slowed down. I kept on buying books, but never found the time to read them. I was always caught up in one thing or other (work, family etc) that reading just took a backburner.
Then at the age of 35, my desire to read bounced back, and from then onwards, I just started reading like crazy. Today, it literally takes me between 1 to 3 days to finish a book, depending on how heavy it is.
My preferred genre nowadays is psychotherapy/ mental health as that’s my current field. So I like to keep myself abreast of all the different knowledge out there. However, I do try to still keep myself up with my horror reading, non-fiction and some philosophy, and then anything else that grabs my interest.
How Can I Read As Much?
Here are some quick tips:
Pick up a book that interest you. Don’t read a book because everyone else is reading it. Don’t read a book just because it’s been rated best seller. A lot of people I know go on and on about Russian literature and Haruki Murakami. I tried Murakami and didn’t connect with him. Which is fine. So I pick up which I know would interest me. If a book isn’t keeping you interested, then you won’t be able to read it. If you love science fiction, then read books about science fiction.
If you find yourself losing interest while reading book, dump the book. Leave it. Perhaps come back to it later, and if it’s still not keeping you engaged, just don’t feel the pressure to finish a book you started. Move on.
B. Don’t feel the need to read every single line
One of the biggest pressure we put on ourselves is to read every single line. Don’t. It won’t make a difference. When we take time to read every single sentence, we actually slow down. I don’t read every single line, but I glance over it.
C. The Big Picture
One of the things that help me to read a book is to understand what the big picture. So I go online, and read up on the general synopsis of the book– not the spoilers. This helps me keep in mind the big picture of the book, and so I am able to keep track. If it’s a complexed book, I write down the names of the characters inside the front cover of the book to keep me on track (One Hundred Years of Solitude is one such book!)
This also helps me decide whether I should read the book or not.
D. The First Line and the Last Line
One of the things about reading is that usually the first line and the last line of a paragraph generally sums up what the paragraph is about. Read the first line of the paragraph as that will tell you what the paragraph is about. Read the last line of the paragraph, that will sum up what the paragraph is about. If you miss the chunk in between, you won’t miss out on a lot.
E. The Art of Skimming
There is reading. Then there is something called skimming. I have learnt the art of skimming. I am able to read over the words and yet still comprehend what I am reading. This is something that can be learnt with frequent reading. Skimming is defined as: “the action of reading something quickly so as to note only the important points.” Keep in mind, there is nothing wrong with slow reading– in fact, research has shown that one can comprehend and store more information with slow reading.
Here are two examples of how we can read faster:
F. Schedule and Habit
I schedule a time to read (it’s mostly before bedtime). I don’t read at random moments. Once I am done with everything else from my planner, I take time out to read. When I know I have a scheduled myself some me time to read my book, it helps me get through my book faster. One major thing, my phone is kept aside and because of that, I am not distracted.
G. Make it Fun!
Most importantly, make reading a fun experience. Sometimes when I am reading a horror novel, I imagine playing the entire story in my mind as if it were a movie. Then I assign movie actors to the characters, and that makes a fun experience for me. This helps me keep my reading experience a fun experience.
I also look at reading as way to travel the world. When I read a book about a boy talking about his life in Libya, his escape and his eventual return, I take his experience as an opportunity to travel to Libya. Reading foreign literature is always about traveling for me.
A Gentleman in Moscow took me to Russia. The Architect’s Apprentice took me to Istanbul. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings took me to the Southern American. Convenience Store Woman took me to Japan. Midnight’s Children took me to India. So I love traveling the world through books.
If you are struggling to read, make it a habit to read at least one page a day. Once a habit is formed, you will be on your way to reading frequently. Keep the above tips in mind and you will rediscover the joy of reading and enriching your life experience.
At the end of the day, I will say to keep reading fun!