When the term starts and the wave of reading for classes comes, it is hard to pick up a book to read for fun. Between time management, personal motivation, and prioritizing, reading for personal benefit typically takes the back burner. After taking Young Adult Literature during Winter 2018, I’ve collected some ideas and tips for how to get some reading-for-the-soul in without having to wait for the term break.
Making Your Lists
The biggest thing that has helped me simply keep track of my books through Goodreads. This is how I keep track of books I have read before, the books I want to read, the books I’m heavily anticipating, and pretty much any other list of books you want to keep. Being on Goodreads, finding friends, following authors, and following other book-reviewers is an amazing way to find more books you’ll likely love as well as finding new books, similar to others you love, that you probably wouldn’t be drawn on your own. If you feel so inclined, I would love to connect over Goodreads and share reading ideas.
Having my own lists has helped me keep track of books I’m waiting to get published, and books that I want to eventually buy for my own classroom. It’s always hard, as an avid reader, and as an English-teacher-to-be, to keep track of every book that’s recommend to me for any topic. I’ll get recommendations for books for myself, for my students and my classroom-library, and quite frankly it’s all too much to remember. So I just add them all to my Goodreads, so I have them at a later date when I’m ready to read!
Picking A Book
This is quite possibly the hardest part of reading. Personally, I will check my ‘anticipating’ list to see if there are any new releases I need to be reminded of. These take priority in my reading lists, and I will most likely buy these books the day they come out. (One book, for instance, I actually pre-orded directly from the author 6+ months in advance. But, this will be shipped to me with priority shipping and will have a genuinely signed copy of the novel. It’s well worth it for my own personal collection and to share with future students of mine.) Outside of my ‘anticipating’ list, it’s just a grab in the dark to see what sparks my eye.
I have a small pile at home in my desk and on my bookshelf who await my hands, and these take the number two spot for me. These only do because I physically own them already. If from these there is a book that personally strikes me or reminds me of a book I want o read, then I’ll choose it! Sometimes this means having to pop down to my local library and finding the next in a series or searching out for a book I was reminded of, but it’s usually well worth the little bit of effort to find it.
What if I can’t find something?
And, in the end, if there isn’t a title or cover that really sparks my interest I will just float through Goodreads or Youtube recommendations on books that are similar to ones I’ve enjoyed before. Another favorite of mine is going to the ‘new’ sections in the library to see what’s new. I have found some of my favorites by doing this! There isn’t really anything in particular that I do when judging a book by it’s cover, there is a felt sense from the title, font, colors, cover, and anything else within the first minute I have with a book that tells me to take it home with me or not. It’s a personal skill to develop, to see what commonalities are between other books you’ve enjoyed and how to identify what it is you love and to quickly find it.
Timing is the tricky part here. As college students, we have to manage our time pretty carefully. It’s hard already to get all the reading done for classes some week anyways! One of the biggest things that helped me find the time to read a book a week for Y.A. Lit. was carrying the books around with me. And not just in my backpack, I carried these books in my hands wherever I went. So the few minutes you’re waiting in line for coffee, or you’re waiting for the bus, or you’re waiting for class to start you can just read. It’s not necessary to scroll through Facebook or Intagram for the umpteenth time today, it’ll be there later too. By this, I don’t mean to completely cut yourself off from your phone or other social interactions, I just mean to cut a little bit out in your moments of boredom and turn a few pages. Even prop your book up next to you when you’re eating your morning bowl of oats. Just a few pages at a time adds up quick!
The last thing that has helped me get more books in during my day is audiobooks. At first I had signed up for the first free month over at Audible to help read a book for Y.A. Lit that I was struggling to focus on. After that first month, I decided to pay the $15 a month for one audio book a month. Most of these audiobooks run $15-30, and I had a few books on my ‘to-read’ list that I wasn’t sure if I really wanted a physical copy or not. So, once a month I have a few days on my commutes to school and at work where I just get to listen to a novel while working on other things. It’s been so wonderful because I can do something relaxing, I can do some self care, and I can also consume a novel. I have been working very hard to make – and beat – my Reading Goal I set on Goodreads at the beginning of the year. Being able to listen to books while walking between classes and driving from Momnouth and Salem has been a gift to myself, and it has been well worth it. No thanks to being able to pick out a series I reluctantly wanted to read, and then fell head over heels for.
Why Should I Even Bother?
Reading is not just for academic gains. Reading is something that can nourish the soul, if given the right book or number of pages to get lost in. Reading is something to escape in. Reading is something to learn from and grow in the heart. Reading is something that can being much reprieve from the stress of life. It is imperative to the soul to bring yourself some self-care and escapism; so go open Goodreads, make some lists, borrow a book from the library, and fall into the pages.