With the launch of the 2017 Read & Watch Challenge yesterday (have you joined yet?), I wanted to take today to focus on this month's theme word--BEGIN--in a different way. Some of the most intimidating things about reading challenges are the tasks of a) choosing which book to read and b) getting yourself to actually pick up the book and read it. So I thought it might be helpful to talk about creating a daily reading habit and what I'm personally doing this year to help with that.
I know that for some of you, I'm probably preaching to the choir. You don't need help beefing up your reading time. You're a power reader. (But read on anyway because I'm going to apply this technique to tackling that towering TBR pile I know you have.)
I used to be a power reader too. But each year, with all the things that go along with being a writer and running a business, I find that my fiction reading has suffered more and more. In 2016, I read 45 books, which is nothing to complain about, but it was my lowest count in years and a third to half were non-fiction reads.
So this year, two of my areas to focus on, habit-wise, are to get back to reading more fiction AND to tackle my completely out-of-control TBR pile. With both of these, I've found that often the hardest part for me is just taking the time to pick up a book. To BEGIN. My phone is a distraction, chores are waiting, work is always there, etc. It's easy just to leave the book on the coffee table and forget to pick it up.
But then I read this article over at Fast Company: How I Became a Morning Person, Read More Books, and Learned a Language in a Year. It's a fantastic article about starting small with habits, and it tackled what is often the hardest thing--beginning. In the article, the author talks about how she had a goal of reading 1 page a night minimum. Just one. She could read more if she wanted to, but she could check it off her habit list if she made it through one. So it lowers the intimidation factor of picking up the book and helps you feel accomplished, but also, more times than not (if the book is good), you'll end up reading more.
The 5-Page Daily Habit
So I decided to take on this technique, but altering it to five pages because it takes me about that long to get into a reading something. And I'm a fast reader, so five pages is nothing. The method is simple: Read 5 pages minimum every night.
Last night, I employed this technique and ended up reading 100 pages. The book captured me and I enjoyed an evening of reading. And I probably wouldn't have picked up the book last night at all if I hadn't told myself, I only need to read 5 pages.
Applying the Method to the Towering TBR Pile
So then that got me to thinking about my crazy TBR pile. Hundreds of books, people. Shelves and shelves of print and a Kindle full of ebooks just waiting for me. It's been a regular struggle for me to focus on the TBR. Each year, I set a renewed goal for it and fail. But often it's because I'm overwhelmed at the thought of which book to read. I think this 5-page technique can do wonders here, too.
You pick up a book you think you want to read from your TBR and read 5 pages (or 10 or the first chapter, whatever you want your litmus test to be). If it doesn't capture you, put it aside. Go on to the next one. If a book's been sitting on your shelf for more than a year and the five pages don't grab you, well, you're probably never going to read it. Life is too short to read books that aren't hooking you.
For instance, last night I was trying to decide which book to read for the BEGIN theme this month in the challenge. I had two contenders. I decided I'd read the first five pages of each and then decide. Well, I read the first five pages of The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and I never picked up the second book lol. I ended up reading a hundred pages because the author hooked me. :)
So, if you're intimidated about starting a reading habit this year or joining the Read & Watch challenge, or afraid you'll never put a dent in your TBR pile, then maybe give this a try.
Anyone have any specific reading habits they're tackling this year? Am I the only one drowning in my TBR pile?