Sunday, 12 February 2017

My new reading rules


I love to read, but I can often forget exactly how much I love to read. When I read on my commute, I feel like I've used the journey much more productively than when I scroll through my phone for 45 minutes, and while I've been living in the flat with Phil it's been hard to find a quiet space to read when we only had 3 rooms. 

Now we're back at my parents I've been determined to not lose my momentum with reading and get back into the habit of finding a quiet space to read for pleasure, so here are my new reading rules and goals to help me to read as much as possible, and find more books that I love...

1. Pick books that sound good, not just the ones with good reviews
I'm really terrible for picking up a book, reading the blurb, then going straight to Goodreads to see whether it's "good" or not. And "good" for me means whether it's got a rating of over 3.8. Under than and I might not bother. Which is ridiculous, because I have read dozens of "good" books with solid 4+ ratings I've hated, and when I look through my favourites list on Goodreads, some of my favourite books would have failed this system (Haunted only has 3.58, The Informers, only 3.38 and my favourite book in the last few months, Olive Kitteridge, only 3.77). So I need to make better decisions myself about what sounds like a good book to me, or maybe read the first few pages to see if I like the writing style (I have an English Lit degree, so I cannot read anything that's badly written), rather than trawling through the reviews of strangers.

2. Use the library
Since moving jobs in April last year, I'm no longer around the corner from Manchester's Central Library, which has an amazing catalogue of books. I am, however, round the corner from Stockport library, and although I have a card, I often don't search for books there because I "assume" they won't have the book I want. Often I'm right, but not always, so I need to get back into the habit of checking there first. Or at least give Phil my library card to get me something from Central on his lunch break!

3. Stop skimming!
Another Goodreads thing I have a love/hate relationship with is setting a reading goal. This gets in my head a bit, and I can find myself rushing through a book just to add it to my "read" list. Again, stupid. 

4. Put down books I don't love
I had an awkward altercation last week when I bemoaned rushing through a book I wasn't loving just to finish it so I could start something else. Everyone on Twitter told me to stop, even the author of the book in hand herself (!!!!). But I stuck with it and finished it and I am glad I did, but I do this far, far too often and you know what, life is too short to read books I don't love.

5. Research the authors I like
As soon as I start to finish a book, if I don't have my next one lined up, I get very panicky. I always worry that with every good book I read that's one less great book left in the world! So I'm going to start being better at researching the authors I love to find other things they've written. This feels like a very easy way to grow my reading list, but something I always forget to do!

6. Donate books I didn't love or won't read again
It's easy to think of my books as a collection, but as I mentioned with clothes, I have hundreds of books and so many of them I know I wouldn't read again. So why not donate them to someone who might be absolutely thrilled to find the book they've been looking for in a charity shop? I love this idea, and I love that it means helping a charity too. I don't need to keep every book I've ever read in my life - I'd rather just keep the ones I love.

7. Pick up a book more than my phone
I've mentioned before that when I'm in Spain, I turn my phone off and put it in a drawer, and spend all the time I'm away reaching for my book instead of yet another scroll through Twitter. I always have a book in my handbag, so I need to get into a better habit of picking it up at the times I'd normally reach for my phone, even if it's only for a couple of pages.

8. Make time to read
With a half-hour commute each way when I was living in Manchester, I got plenty read each week to and from work, and I absolutely loved this time. Now I'm back at my parents, my commute is quite a bit shorter, so I need to make sure I make the time to read. To read well, I need to be on my own and it needs to be quiet, so I need to get into a routine where I can make this happen, whether it's before bed or in the morning. Reading calms me down and makes me happy, so it's important that I make time for it every day.

9. Keep an open mind
As I mentioned before with my degree, I can be pretty judgey when it comes to books (I took an amazing class in my final year called Reading and Popular Culture which had a lot about how we determine "high art" and "low art" when it comes to books), but I really need to keep an open mind more. Not everything I read needs to be the best book ever, and nor does it need to be the best-written book ever. If I can enjoy a chick flick as much as an independent film, I need to learn to be more open to books that are good fun, even if they're not well written.

10. Buy more second hand
I've been buying most of my books lately either from charity shops or from Abe Books, rather than looking straight on Amazon for Kindle books. It's cheaper and I like the idea of my money going to independent bookshops. Simple as that! I've managed to get so many books for under £3 from Abe Books!

11. Visit bookshops more - and buy something!
I am 100% that person who loves a wander around a bookshop but will then see if the book is cheaper on Amazon. I KNOW I'M TERRIBLE. So my plan from now on is to actually buy from bookshops because I know if I don't, they'll die and I'll be devastated, which leads to...

12. Buy more books on a whim
Like I mentioned with clothes shopping in this post, I very rarely buy a book on a whim. I tend to have a list of all the books I want, both on Goodreads and in my phone, and I'll wait til I'm about to finish a book before I buy anything new. But buying books is a wonderful experience, especially when you just pick something up that you fancy, so I want to do more spontaenous book buying, just because.

13. Set a book-buying allowance
I always feel weirdly guilty about buying books, and when I asked on Twitter I found a few people had a dedicated spend each month to buying books, which I love the idea of. So every two months I allow myself a bit of spending on books. This means I feel less guilty about the books I don't finish and I get to enjoy the love that is buying books! Because buying books is buying happiness and knowledge and you just can't put a price on that, you know?

14. It's okay to have a few books on the go
I'm usually a bit rubbish at having a few books on the go, and end up giving up on one and having to start from the beginning again when I realise I can't remember what was going on, but I've recently found I've liked having a fiction and a non-fiction on the go. I've been reading quite a few books to help my anxiety and I can find them a bit overwhelming to read more than a few pages of at a time, so it's nice to have a mix of fiction and non-fiction to work through at once.

Book recommendations for me? Just want to stalk my reading list? Follow me on Goodreads!

Charlotte x

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