I don’t want to be a quitter, so I used to always finish books I choose to read. However, as my responsibilities grew with marriage, motherhood, and full-time employment, I changed my reading policy. Now I’m more than glad to drop a book I don’t like.
Gretchen Rubin, the best-selling author of “The Happiness Project,” has a similar policy. In an article she wrote for Publishers Weekly, number one on her list of tips for becoming a better reader is quit reading. “When I let myself abandon a boring book, I have more time to read what I love,” Rubin wrote. I couldn’t agree more.
Five Reading Tips
Summer is the time I catch up on my leisure reading because it’s when my family goes on vacation. For last week’s trip to Turks and Caicos Islands, I brought four books to read: two literary novels, a suspense novel, and a contemporary romance. What could be better than reading a book on a sugary beach in the Caribbean? You can bet I was in reader’s paradise!
Below are my “rules” for reading, which allow me to read more books I like and appreciate each book better. How about you? I’d love to hear your reading rules. Leave a comment below.
#1 Give a book a three-chapter chance. I no longer feel guilty about quitting when a book fails to engage me. Life is too short to waste on a boring book. If a book is really bad, I have no problem quitting after the first chapter or the first page. If I’m lukewarm about a book, I will give the author a fair chance by reading up to chapter three. After that, I make my decision to continue or quit. I can still quit at any point if the book doesn’t get any better.
#2 Make a distinction between serious and light reading. In Rubin’s list, she advised readers to skim. I do it as well. From the get-go, I will decide whether a book is “serious” or “light” reading material. The books I’ve reviewed on this blog belong to the former category. Making this distinction helps me set the number of hours and the amount of effort I will spend in reading the book. For example, the suspense and romance books I brought for my Caribbean trip were meant to be read in four days. I started reading the suspense book the minute I finished TSA inspection at the airport. I don’t linger on a word or a sentence if it’s light reading, whereas I will jot down notes if it’s serious reading.
#3 Always bring a book to read. Whether it’s digital or hard copy, don’t get caught without a book. The time I spend waiting after getting an allergy shot (a monthly ritual) is an important reading time for me. At work, I get a prompt to update my computer’s software regularly. The updates can involve one application or 37 applications. I end up reading a chapter or two of a novel while waiting.
#4 Keep a reading list. This is number five on Rubin’s list. I have a list of books I want to read. Some of those titles are two years old, but I plan to read them eventually. Now that I’m part of Goodreads, I can transfer some of those titles to my “to be read” or “currently reading” lists. It’s one of the things I like about Goodreads. A list of books provides a framework for my reading. Besides, it feels good to check off one title from the list after I finish reading.
#5 Set aside a time to read. I admit my reading time has gotten shorter ever since my debut romance book was acquired by a publisher last year. There are unending tasks involved in publishing, apart from actual writing, rewriting, editing, and proofing the book. Blogging and maintaining social media presence are part of it. Nevertheless, I try to reserve at least 30 minutes every day for reading. I simply can’t go to bed without first reading a book, whether it’s only three pages or three whole chapters is beside the point.