The best way to read
Is to simply not
Guilt, shame, and remorse are three of my besties, and embarrassment is another. Yes, because of that one time I waved back to someone who wasn’t actually waving to me.
But mostly because I can no longer read a book to save my life.
Once I was quite the perfect, pretentious little reader. Flashlight under the covers, all the money I made babysitting funneled into Barnes & Noble, blowing off church to read in the parking lot (the most rebellious phase I ever had, besides finally refusing to go to church altogether, and getting tattoos).
Now I struggle to focus for 5 pages, for 10. Books I’m thrilled about in theory become a chore once I actually open them. I can’t find a good time to read—too wired in the morning, too tired at night, too busy or distracted in the day. In the Before Times, I snatched as many pages as I could, whenever and wherever I could, especially on my commutes to class or work.
And I loved it. My blood was on fire with the joy and the thrill of reading. I laughed; I gasped; I wept. I read new releases as soon as they graced store shelves, and reread old favorites not because they were comfortable but because I wanted to learn how to write. I even took aesthetic book photos.
My commute now is the short trudge from my bedroom to any other empty room in my parents’ house. And when I get there, instead of reading before starting the day’s silly little tasks, I write. It’s disgustingly earnest. 300 words (at least) on a story, a bite-sized obligation that isn’t too hard to chew but is easy to overindulge in, leading sometimes to 600- or 900-word sessions in just an hour. Even if I manage only 301 words for the day, and even if they’re so horrendous my eyes bleed as I write them, I try to be proud of myself. I have 301 more words than I had yesterday.
Though I am marching diligently towards my goals (oof), exchanging the pleasure of reading for the challenge of writing is a sacrifice too. There are only so many hours in the day. I have Sims videos to watch, you know?
So I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s entry to my best tips on falling in love with reading again—at whatever cost.
First, make a social media account and engage with a community. This may sound counterintuitive, for as all we know that the Internet is a sucking black hole, but Goodreads and #booktwitter are gold mines of recommendations, in-depth reviews, themed lists, and most important of all, drama.
Whether you want to read an enemies-to-lovers romance, a retelling of the Trojan War through the tragic voice of a prophetess doomed to always speak the truth but to never be believed, or a horrific magical school story that will melt your brain like it’s the finest Camembert, Goodreads has it all for you!
Twitter, too, has its offerings.
Now, once you’ve chosen a book, you must make time in your busy schedule to read. Anything works: devoting twenty minutes after waking up and before beginning your day, cramming in a chapter with dinner, or flipping as many pages as you can while the blood of your enemies cools in the bath. (Skincare is so essential.)
On that note, maximize comfort. I’ve found that a couch with lots of pillows is best for optimum reading posture. And don’t neglect your needs! Make sure one of your harem spouses is there to feed you grapes and refill your wine glass.
Similarly, ambience is important. Spotify has plenty of inspiring playlists and soundtracks. I recommend “Classical Reading” or the Pride and Prejudice OST. Birdsong or unearthly shrieks work wonders, too.
Before cracking the spine, stroke the cover like a lover’s face, or your own reflection.
And whenever your time is up and you must move on to other things, kiss the book goodbye. Otherwise it’ll get sad, and you’ll find the tear-stained pages very difficult to read the next day.
Don’t be afraid of the voice that speaks through the ink. It’s seductive on purpose. It has secrets to tell.
Let yourself dream and pine for the life you might have had if the world contained more wonder, or if you were a necromancer in space.
Most of all, avoid your phone and your computer at all costs. Don’t look them in the eye. They know you are straying. They fear your literary willpower and seek to destroy it.
And lastly, just do it! :)
Feel free to reply with your success rate following these tips and whatever recommendations you may have, as I’m always looking for more books to buy and abandon. And while I gleefully ignore my own advice, add me on Goodreads and follow my unpopular and unsuccessful Twitter.
I almost just typed “Best,” ???