My wife and I never help my daughter eat candy. We don’t have to because she loves it. If it’s there, she will take it. She doesn’t need deadlines or challenges. She only needs to reach the candy to consume it.
When it comes to books, this is how I am at heart. Practically speaking, however, I have my days. You know, those days when the “candy” is in gripping reach, but you have no desire for sweets. It’s a funny thing.
Last year, I experienced a lot of those moments. It wasn’t that I lost my love for books, but there were feelings of distaste and tiredness towards them. I recall picking up an aesthetically wonderful book with a gripping subject, even feeling warm fuzzies with it in my hand (I call it a book high), but never bringing myself to read it.
This year, I’m determined to overcome that. I’m setting reading goals. I’m telling myself what to read and when to read it. I’m giving myself deadlines and schedules. I’m recording it on my calendar and creating reminders. I’m helping myself eat books—because my love for them sometimes isn’t enough.
Additionally, I’m giving myself some rules and reminders. And, if you’ve found yourself in the same situation at times, these just might help you. I’ll call them “the five tips for accomplishing your reading goals” because I’m too tired to come up with something more creative.
Tip #1: Read intentionally.
I thought I should flesh this out for us both. Having reading goals will not quench your love for reading. In fact, I think it will deepen it. It’s like putting an exercise fanatic on a schedule and plan. It’s intentional reading. It’s planned enjoyment. It’s being serious about your love. Oh yeah, you like it already.
Tip #2: Read contextually.
I invented (until someone tells me otherwise) contextual reading to solve my retention problem. I often have multiple books in my reading schedule. Sometimes they overlap subjects and styles, causing me to confuse books. I fixed it by only reading books in certain contexts. This gave me a “world” for each book that I could walk in and out of easily. Here are some ideas on that.
Tip #3: Read affectionately.
Be honest: some books are just not interesting. We all have our tastes. We all have our seasons. Some books are dull at times. Admit it and don’t feel badly about it. I used to force myself to finish a book, and it made me miserable. You too? Stop feeling miserable. It happens. Put the book back on the shelf and find another.
Tip #4: Read quietly.
This one might be hard, but do your best: get somewhere quiet. I know it’s hard. I have four children and only one has an inside voice. Quiet places are hard to find, but they exist—in your car, in the backyard, in your closet, in your restroom. Here’s the catch: you have to be quiet, too. Shut your phone off.
Tip #5: Read seriously.
This last tip will hurt you. Shut—the—TV—off. If you’re really hardcore, cancel your cable. Maybe everyone in the house will start reading. Or, just tell yourself that you must read before bed, after dinner, before breakfast, or whenever the boob tube is stealing your time because it’s time to get serious.
Have any tips to add? I’d love to hear them. Put them in the comments below.