“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
I’ve come across this tip for writers by Stephen King in many places, but I’ll never forget the first time I came across it in his book On Writing.
Since then, I’ve made reading a priority in my life. Sometimes it’s hard. I’m busy. I’m occupied. I’m distracted. If I want to get any reading done, I have to be proactive about it. I have to force time in my schedule for it.
Here are some suggestions for being proactive about reading. It’s not for everyone. Some people might say, “I just want to be casual about my reading.” Nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t work for me. I have to be deliberate about reading or I won’t do it.
Ways to read:
Print – I have a shelf of print books I need to read. Most people I know stick to reading in print. When I read in print, I need a stiff, but comfortable chair to sit in. I use to lay on the couch, and not matter how into the book I was, I nodded off.
Digital – I’m one of those, who, if I have to chose, prefer ebooks over print books. I still love print books, but with my Kindle Fire, I never have to worry about finding enough light in the room to read. Also, I read a lot faster if it’s an ebook. One thing about ebooks is that I’ve collected a couple thousand of them on my Kindle. Lots of free books. Sad to know I won’t get to all of them.
Audio – As it turns out, most of the books I “read” I actually listen to as audio books. Whether it’s a book I’ve checked out from my library’s website, or something I’ve purchased from Audible, I find I can incorporate audio books in my life more easily than print or digital. Usually I’ll have either a print book OR an ebook going, but rarely both at once. I always have an audio book going. I listen to one on my 20 minute commute to and from work. And, if I’m doing something at my desk that doesn’t require deep concentrating, I can listen to an audiobook while at work. I’ve discovered that books I found hard to read are easier to listen to.
What to read:
- The simplest way to figure out what to read is to just brainstorm books you’ve been meaning to read and list them. Read them in whatever order you want and mark off the ones you finish. No pressure to complete the list by the end of the year (unless you want to); just take the ones you haven’t read and move them to the next years list with new additions.
- Deliberately read in different genres and types of books. Try to cover at least one book in the following suggested areas: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, biography, textbook, play, children’s book, classic, graphic novel, spirituality, history, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, science and technology, young adult fiction. I add categories specific to my own interests (I.e. graphic design/art and writing instruction). Dare yourself to read wisely.
- Deliberately read in just one category. This is the opposite of the previous plan. Pick a genre or category (ex. Science fiction) and read only in the genre for a year or six months or whatever. Read both well-known and little known books in the field of your choice.
- Instead of listing specific book titles, list authors you want to read for the upcoming year (Hemingway, Shakespeare, Atwood, Rowling, etc.). Pick one or two of their books to read.
- Read The Charlie Collection from the novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Here’s the list.
- Read my checklist of American Literature. Here’s the list.
- Take the Goodread’s Reading Challenge.
- Customize your own reading list for 2020. There’s no hard-set rules.
Or you can customize your own reading list for 2020. There’s no hard-set rules. May the force be with you.