When I tell people how much I read – occasionally upwards of three books a week; often less if I’m reading a heavy classic, there’s an automatic assumption that I happen to be a quick reader or have mastered the art of speed reading. Unfortunately neither is true; for me, speeding through a book would completely defeat the purpose of reading; and while I can’t profess to have enjoyed every book I’ve read, I certainly wouldn’t want to rush through those that I do.
It’s very easy to blame a lack of time as a key reason for not being able to read as much as one would want to – I’m certainly guilty of doing so when I find my reading flagging; but as a seasoned bookworm used to squeezing in pockets of reading whenever and wherever I can, I thought I’d I’d share my tips for anyone wanting to up their book game.
1. Get up earlier: Much has been made in recent months of the benefit of rising early. Indeed, scores of some of the most accomplished people – from Richard Branson to Anna Wintour, to best-selling novelist Kate Mosse (who begins her day at 4am when writing a book) – attribute their success to the habit of rising early. For me, the time I wake varies between 5.30 and 6, and the silence and serenity of the early morning affords me the perfect time to read. I love being the only person awake in a still and sleeping house and get a huge amount of satisfaction from making a cup of hot, strong tea and settling back into bed with a book for a solid hour or two of reading and escapism before the chaos of my daily commute to work.
2. Turn off the TV: After a long day at work, it’s all too easy to collapse on the sofa and idly channel-hop in the hope of finding something that grabs your interest before settling on some inane drivel that lacks in both substance and stimulation. I’ve lost count of the amount of hours I’ve wasted on TV that would have been better spent head down in a book. Take it from one of the best-loved writers of all time, the wonderful Roald Dahl: ‘So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.’
3. Switch off social media: Given that I work in social media, I understand the temptation of being glued to your phone at all times, lest you miss an important status update. The past-time of scrolling through Twitter news-feeds or Instagram galleries is an addictive one; and not conducive when it comes to upping your reading. The best way around this? A simple one: log out of your social media accounts, leave your phone or lap-top in a different room and get your head down in a book.
4. Reclaim your lunch break: Encouraging their readers to make the most of their lunch hour, Stylist Magazine recently launched a ‘Reclaim your Lunch Break‘ campaign. The ethos is a simple one; rather than grabbing a salad-to-go and remaining glued to your computer screen, leave your desk for the full hour to partake in a new activity. Be it a walk, a cooking lesson, or a lunch-time concert, the list is of options is endless. Why not try using your lunch hour for a blissful sixty minutes of reading?
5. Set yourself a goal: Perhaps the biggest incentive for me when it comes to the amount I read is that I’ve publicly declared to anyone who will listen that I intend to read the BBC Top 100 in full before my 30th birthday. By setting yourself a reading challenge it will give you the extra imputus you need to fit your bookish endeavour into your daily schedule; and that extra bit of satisfaction when you complete it.
6. Multi-task: There are a number of ways in which I manage to slot some reading into my day without it effecting my time. However long or short your commute, it’s the perfect opportunity to squeeze in some reading and if you’re a fan of the treadmill, why not kill two birds with one stone and nourish your body and your mind in one fell swoop? From standing in queues to waiting in coffee shops for a friend, ansure you carry a book with you and these slices of time can be filled with reading.