2020 has been a very, very odd year, to say the least. I suppose a global pandemic will do that, eh? Whether you were like me, who suffered a serious reading drought when all of the stay-at-home orders went into effect or you’re one of the lucky ones who were able to continue reading like nothing was happening, I think we can all agree that the last 5 months have been some of the toughest in recent memory. If you’re struggling to get back into the groove of things but want to finish your reading year strong, here are some tips to help you manage.
1. Read something easy and fun!
Yes, everyone’s definitions of “easy” and “fun” vary, but you should always try to read as much literature that keeps you entertained as you as you can. For me, I consider horror novels easy and fun, so the first time I tested this out was when I read Paul Tremblay‘s Survivor Song (oddly enough, also about a pandemic, but at least ours doesn’t have zombies!) and it really helped me stay focused on what I was reading. If thrillers or rom-coms or middle grade fantasy novels are more your speed, try to put the serious stuff aside for a bit and just get lost in a book.
2. Read something different!
When all of this pandemic stuff started, I had such a hard time getting lost in a book. I would read about 20 pages and just get totally lost. To combat this, one of my friends recommended that I try to read something that was totally outside of the genres I typically read. Enter Julietta Henderson‘s upcoming novel The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman, a lovely, heartfelt, emotional book that certainly did the trick. I typically read very sad, very serious things, so it was nice to take a bit of a break from that for once. So, it might be worth a shot for you, too! Typically read thrillers? Give historical fiction a try. Historical fiction fan, too? Why not try out a sci-fi title? You never know what you’ll discover!
3. Shorter books are your friend
If you’re struggling to get lost in a book, why not try some shorter books on for size? I’m a staunch advocate of books being under 300 pages, and, especially right now, I want my books to get right into the story from the first page. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I can’t recommend Helen Humphreys‘ Rabbit Foot Bill enough. Coming in at 240 pages, you’ll fly through this one.
4. Challenge a friend
We all know peer pressure is a bad thing and I’m not about to argue for its merits, BUT some good ol’ fashioned buddy-reading might be just the thing you need to get back into the swing of things. If you’re challenging a friend or even just reading a book alongside them, you’ll likely feel accountable to that person and won’t want to let them down. In doing so, you might just get your mojo back.
5. Commit to reading 50 pages a day
I know this is a difficult one, but try your best to set a daily reading goal for yourself. Whether it’s on your lunch break or right before you go to bed for the night, tell yourself that you will read X number of pages and commit to it. Set alarms, set reminders, have friends text you… whatever it takes! By staying committed to your goal – which could be as little as 10 pages or as many as 150! – you’ll be able to see the progress you’re making firsthand, and that’s a remarkable feeling, especially during these times.
6. Get off Twitter and turn off the news
I’m serious. Twitter isn’t exactly a wonderful place right now, and the news isn’t much bad. There’s a lot of negativity out there and, if you’re anything like me, you can really feel the effect that it’s had on you. A couple days ago I committed to taking a break from Twitter to work on my own mental well being, and I don’t have cable so I can’t watch the news. Instead, I’ve been trying to fill up the time I typically would’ve spent doom-scrolling on Twitter with books, and I can already feel a bit of the emotional fog lifting. These are stressful times and no one is expecting you to be 100% all the time, so make sure that you’re taking time for yourself and prioritizing your mental well being.
7. Don’t be afraid to DNF a book
There are a lot of books out there. If you pick up a book and you’re not digging it, don’t be scared to ditch it! I give myself 50-75 pages. If a book hasn’t gripped me by then, I set it down and pick something else up. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a “bad” book (though I don’t believe that’s actually a thing), but rather it just means that I’m not in the right mindset for it just yet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled to get through 50 pages of a book, set it down for a few weeks, read something else in the meantime, and picked it up again at a later date, only to fly through it.
8. Read the books you want to read
I’m going to say it again: there are a lot of books out there. Whether it’s social media or bestsellers list or curated lists or Goodreads, we are seeing so many books in our day-to-day lives. But, just because someone says a book is a “must-read” or because you’re seeing a book everywhere doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Similar to point number 7, don’t be afraid to shy away from the chart-topping mega-bestseller if you don’t think it’s in your wheelhouse. There is no pressure to read anything that doesn’t appeal to you, especially if you’re having trouble focusing.
That’s all we have, Savvy Readers. Do you have any tips for your fellow My Book Pledge-ers? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader!
Happy reading (and take care of yourselves),