(No pun intended there)
The pandemic and lockdown has ignited many hobbies and people have picked up on long lost interests and passions. Some baked, some painted. Many read. I am one of those people who went from reading no books in years to reading 12 books in 2020 and already half way through my 2021 goal.
What happened? Did I suddenly find free time which never existed before? Not really. There’s always time to do the things you really want to do right? Finding my love for reading and actually reading took time, effort and sustained efforts. Today on National Reading Day (yes, its a real thing) I thought I would list down the efforts and how I actively read.
Kick start your reading vibe
Having studied Literature for over 5 years of my educational life, reading books, speed reading, interpretation & memorising key parts of writing etc. comes easy to me. However for many years I was stuck in a slightly purist frame of mind. If a book was modern fiction, I frowned upon it. If it was not an award winning book, I scorned upon it. Kindle, blasphemy. The result of all this was that I was beating myself up for not being able to find the interest or drive to actually enjoy reading the book I had picked out of so-and-so’s list of recommendations.
So I got off that mighty horse! And I picked up a book, of which the summary section on Amazon.com appealed to me. I recalled that I enjoyed reading about women and their life journeys, people migrating countries & their struggles to fit in and find themselves. Elif Shafak and her book “10 minutes, 38 seconds in this strange world” ticked all those boxes for me. Once I started I found it unputdownable. I finished this book in a week. That was a big step for me, especially for not having read a book in I couldn’t even remember how long.
This basically was my kick-starter. I found confidence, I found joy & I was hungry for more. So I think finding that one right book for you, where you are not forcing yourself to finish it, but one where you find the interest & passion to keep turning the pages, is what will help you start on this journey.
Explore other mediums
Ask most people who don’t own a Kindle about what they feel about reading an e-book (do it subtly, “Hey I read this great ebook, what’s your Kindle Id? I’ll send it to you.”) and you will hear – “Oh, I love the feel of turning pages, the smell of paper, yadadada..” Yes I know, coz I was one of these people.
Oh but have you found the joy of highlighting texts, going back to a highlight summary, reading at night in bed, having access to all your books in your palm? Not sold yet? Well, I think, you just have to know the e-reading experience to get to love it.
And let me confess I started off as a pseudo Kindle reader. Well, it was Amazon’s fault. I remember buying a hard copy of a book once on Amazon and they said something along the lines of ‘Hey, We sent you an ebook version too so that you can start reading now & don’t need to wait for your book to arrive.’ “What??? You’d do that for me Amazon?” But I had no reader, no Kindle and certainly no fruit brand phone (read: Apple, duh!). I am a proud Android user. However I discovered in the PlayStore an app titled Kindle. Could this be that magical door to the free e-book? Yep it was. I quickly downloaded it, linked my Amazon id to the app and there was that free e-book. You got me, Amazon.
From then on, I read book samples (free), eversions of actual books I bought on my phone with a lot of painstaking effort. I absolutely loved the swipe to turn page feature. But the bottomline was that I was being converted into an e-reader.
Then when my brother gifted me (handed-me-down, cough cough) a real Kindle, I was over the moon. Several eBooks were bought and thus began my real ascension into the clan of Kindle readers. And I swear, if not for my Kindle I don’t think I would read half as much as I have done thus far.
So if you’re still feeling a little judgy about a book being a book only if it is paper made, think again. Try a pseudo Kindle reader and you may just love it.
Hey but eBooks are not the only medium I want to bring to your attention. Erm, have you tried listening to a story? Sure you have right, growing up – maybe a parent or teacher read a few pages out to you. Your friend excitedly may have read a few passages out to you, like when Catherine finally says “I am Heathcliff”?
So there’s this app called Audible where you can listen to audio books. Now I discovered the joy of listening to books thanks to the pandemic. Housework that was assigned to me during the pandemic was doing the dishes and this whole process took me around an hour. With my Audible app connected to the Bluetooth speaker, I would listen to books and get lost in the maze of Manderley or hear about girls who kick ass. And again, you can download the Audible app on your phone & buy audio books from Amazon. You even get credits for every book read and that in turn can be converted to buy a whole entire audio book. Win!!
Basically I found that using other mediums like eBooks or audio books greatly increased my reading rate, I read a page or a paragraph or two whenever I found a moment to spare. Now I cannot sleep without reading on my Kindle, I can’t do dishes happily without listening to a book.
Try samples before you delve into a book
So on the same topic of e-books, I found that Amazon allows you to read a sample chapter (or half) of any book which you judged from its cover. This sampler downloads to your Kindle app or Kindle itself. Like the sound of what you read, can relate to the author’s style or the story at hand, and you can go back and buy the entire book – e-version or paper version, whatever you still love.
Thanks to social media, you can find every type of influencer out there. And so there are book bloggers. No, don’t groan. I think they do a great job compared to most other categories of bloggers. I found my inspiration in Naba who blogs at Nabanitadhar.in In fact I picked up my first Elif Shafak based on the 5 star rating she gave the book. From then on I have found that I trust her judgement and have never been disappointed when I chose to read her recommendations.
And these book bloggers, the visual treats they share when they blog about a book is all the more appealing and urges to go pick that book. So spend some time on Instagram and look up the #BookBlogger to find that fits your fancy.
Share your love
Once you’ve found a book you love, share that with the world. Make lists on your social profiles. Rate them on Goodreads. Your review may just help convert another wannabe reader over the brink. 🙂
This post contains lots and lots of affiliate links to products on Amazon. The primary objective is not to fill up my affiliate coffers but to try and inspire you on the path of books & reading with you. If you do click on a link and purchase a product, Amazon will pay me a teeny-tiny fee which does not cost you anything extra. 🙂