11 practical ways to read better and to read more

To a lot of people, pandemic induced lockdown was hard. Yes, it was difficult to tide through when there was so much stress all around, but once you have accepted the reality and decided to follow the protocol of the state, it was more a matter of making good of the time. Well, to each his own; but the secret to me making the most of the time in confinement was my passion for books. As is evident from this website, I’ve enjoyed reading books and sharing the core message to those around me who’d be interested. That is how I began writing and sharing book reviews to share the beauty of the written gems. Truthfully speaking, I’ve lost count of the number of books I read all through these years. But when a good book is mentioned or referred, eight out of ten times, I happen to have read that book and can contribute to the conversation. I’ve even written a post about why reading is the best gift you can give to yourself.

As an avid reader, I keep reading select books that I feel will provide me with either of the following-

  • A different perspective on mundane matters
  • A unique experience of something interesting
  • A peek into the mind of the author
  • A glimpse of something new which I never knew

I get asked frequently how I manage to read all these books, managing my work and family and several other interests including travel and photography. To all those who ask, I would just want to say, it is possible if you follow some guidelines for reading. The key here is not to read in a hurry but to manage to read as many books as possible so that you move on to what the next author or the next book has to say.

I’ve been sharing my tips for several years now, and I’m doing it again for all you reading-aficionados.

  1. Keep a tab on the book reviews online and in print. Make your own ‘Must-read’ list. Choose books you absolutely don’t want to miss and then go ahead to buy a print or an e-version. Online book clubs are a great source of finding gems of books, both new and old. Members who have read give a quick feedback and a recommendation. I have my to-read lists stuck up all the time and I love to tick them off as I complete devouring one book after the other.
  2. Make notes as you read. Keep a notebook handy besides your reading place. Jot down small insights from the book for future recall. E-books allow you to bookmark passages and highlight sentences. Keep a code for topics for these passages and jot down in your notes separately. Ex. Passages and quotes about life, positivity, motivation can be denoted with a specific alphabet or an alpha numeric code. The anecdotes about business and businessmen come in handy during business meets, so mark them as ‘B’ and so on. In an index page, just list the book name against the code for ease of retrieval.
  1. Never miss visiting a bookstore whenever you travel. Remember, the same store may stock different kinds of books at different locations. Screen through bestsellers, classic and non-fiction sections. See what the youngsters are buying and ask around.
  2. I prefer to know more about a book, even reading an excerpt before buying. That way, I’m able to better appreciate and assimilate a particular book as I read it.
  3. Always share what you’ve read with someone close who’s also interested in books. A book club is the best bet. There, you get to know about unread books too.
  4. It is not hard to find time to read if you know the time-stealers. I would anytime prefer being with a book than spending time on watching soap operas or some movie I’m not interested in. Social media robs a large chunk of time which can be put to good use. I always carry a couple of books in my cabin bag as I travel and manage to finish a large part of it on airports and during long haul flights. No, I don’t get disturbed by the buzz and the chaos at all.
  5. There is always time if you can make it. I know of friends who even carry a book to the loo. Those few minutes early in the morning or late in the night before you hit the sack are perfect for some interesting reading. If your spouse is also interested, you could share what you’ve read.
  6. Two is always better than one. Take a reading-buddy along. A friend, a colleague or even your spouse or kids. Set targets every week. One can easily finish a moderate sized book in two to three days, which means two books every week. That amounts to a whopping 100 plus books a year! Remember, small things done consistently become big when seen after a long time.
  7. Join book reading clubs that suggest and track your reading speed. The Sunday supplements of some newspapers carry such contests and reward those who manage a certain number every year. They need you to post the books read with a hashtag. That is a great boost to complete the numbers.
  1. Toggle between genres every week. That way, you don’t face an information overload. If its travelogues one week, switch to self-development for the next and sci-fi for further one. It’s something like smelling some coffee beans as you test perfumes!
  2. I cannot speak enough of them. The technological advancements have enabled easy access to a plethora of content and one such is audiobook. There are several audiobooks available on Youtube. If you can afford, you can also subscribe to Audible and several other audiobook providers. You can just play the audio file and listen to the author or an individual reading the book for you while you are doing some mundane tasks. For example, you can listen to an audiobook while you are out for a walk or commuting.

I keep track of the books I’ve read by making notes on my mobile devices. Some could choose to make small cards with highlights and stack them up on your reading table. It’s a great satisfaction to move from one incredible book to another amazing one. Gasping in disbelief to smiling in agreement, feeling your jaws clenched to popping your eyeballs, books bring out the best in you as they reflect the author. The more the books you read; I find that you become humbler. You also realize there’s more to life than what is obvious. I can vouch for that. Trust me!

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