I imagine like most people, high school took the fun out of reading. You were assigned a book you weren’t particularly interested in, and then proceeded to comb through every detail of imagery, symbolism, and author’s intent. Right?
I very much felt this way after leaving high school, and especially with starting university, I felt I didn’t have time to invest into reading anyway.
What I learned from my delve back into reading in 2018 is that it wasn’t about ‘having nothing to read’, or ‘not having time to read’ that was preventing me from reading at all. In fact, the secret is this: having accessibility to books and reading resources.
At the beginning of 2018, I set myself the ambitious goal of wanting to complete 50 books by the time 2019 rolled around. I actually ended up completing 68 books. I will freely admit that around 30 of the books I completed were comic volumes, and there’s nothing wrong with that! (We all have to start somewhere).
For the books that weren’t comics, I picked up a few tricks to make my reading time easier, and make it something I could look forward to.
Libby, by Overdrive
If you’re active in the book community or are just looking for free alternative to the Kindle store app, you may have heard of an app called ‘Libby‘. Libby is one of my absolute favourite apps out there. Period.
It’s available for iOS, Android, and Windows, and only takes a few minutes to set up. All you have to do to get started is have your library card number on hand.
What’s great about Libby is that it takes the hassle out of making a trip to the library just to return and check new books out. Not only can you use Libby to borrow books, but the books you have checked out are also returned automatically on the due date, unless of course, you’ve decided to renew it.
If you’re anything like me and have a busier-than-most schedule, or just can’t find the energy to pick up a book after a long day at work, audiobooks may be for you! As I don’t personally have experience with using services like Audible, I usually download them from my local library using (you guessed it) the Libby app.
The beauty with audiobooks is the ability to change the speed at which they are read. I personally like to have the speed set to x 1.75, especially when reading non-fiction books. Increasing the speed of the narrator means the time it takes you to read the book is shorter, allowing you to spend your time reading more books.
I do have an exception when reading audiobooks where I will listen to them in their original speed, and that is full-cast recordings. These recordings are too good for me to be speeding through, and provide a more engaging, and rich narrative than what I would usually get listening to a narrator read through a novel.
My all-time favourite audiobook is the full-cast dramatisation of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere’. The entirety of the story is still being told, but in the format of a radio play, where the dialogue is a little less chunky than what it would be if it were on the page, and each scene is acted out beautifully.
Amazon Kindle app
I know for a lot of people, purchasing digital books, or even purchasing books (rather than borrowing from the library) just isn’t for them. I however, can’t get enough of digital books! As a university student, having to lug around a heavy bag all day, and bringing a weighty paperback with me on top of that just isn’t practical. At least with storing all my books digitally, I can have my collection in reach at all times without destroying my back for it!
Over the course of 2018, I found that having such easy access to my books meant that when I had little moments of downtime, be it between classes or on the bus, I found myself reaching for a book.
What I like about the Kindle app is that I can have access to my collection, and buy new books all within the same app (I understand that iOS users are unable to purchase books from the app, however Android users will always have the benefit of this functionality).
Buying books digitally can also be a lot cheaper than their paperback counterparts, but the best part of the Kindle app is the daily and monthly deals. The books that go on sale here are usually dime-a-dozen crime/triller, and romance novels, but the trick is to know what books you want to read, so you can snap them up once they go on sale.
‘Riveted Lit‘ is a website created by Simon Teen (Simon & Schuster publishing). Each month they have a selection of full novels and excerpts for you to read completely free. It’s one of the resources I used quite frequently to get free access (legally) to current YA reads, as well as boosting the total number of books I managed to read in 2018.
The selection of novels each month is a good mix of newer releases, and more popular novels, and to read them, the overdrive reading UI is used (which if you’re familiar with using Overdrive or Libby, it’ll feel just like you’ve borrowed the book from your local library).
I think by now, almost everyone is using, or has at least heard of, Goodreads. If you’re new to this website, Goodreads is basically a social network for book lovers and book reviews alike. It allows fans to interact with their favourite authors, and they can even form their own fan-groups about their favourite series’, or just make a monthly book club.
I was first introduced to Goodreads when I was in Year 7 by my library teacher. From that day forward, I was hooked. I think Goodreads, along with the tools mentioned in this post (but Goodreads mostly) was what helped me to achieve my goal of reading 50 books in 2018.
It’s the motivation and encouragement from other users of the site that really helps you to stay on track with your reading goals. I found that adding books to my TBR list gave me continual excitement to read, as I was never faced with the conundrum of having ‘nothing to read’. Not only that, but it was the most satisfying to be able to log my % progress of a book as I read it, and see the reading challenge counter inch closer to my goal.
What tools do you use to help you stay on track with your reading goals?
That’s all for now!