This evening is World Book Night – a celebration of reading and books. Events usually take place around the country with readers sharing their love of books, their favourite authors and indulging in book chats and natter with friends, their book groups and with us in libraries.
This year’s celebration will be unique – activity is online, with readers encouraged to share what they are reading through social media, video conferencing and other messaging services. We’re also encouraged to take part in a #ReadingHour – from 7pm this evening, take some time to read, talk about reading and share what you love with others either in your own house or with friends via social media and the telephone.
But what if you’ve lost your reading mojo? Every book you pick up isn’t grabbing your attention? You can’t concentrate on what’s on the page/being read to you on eAudio? You’re not alone. Here, Kate from Bedworth Library shares her experiences of reading at the moment.
On Desert Island Discs, cast away guests are allowed to choose a single book which they can take to their island. I’m sure if you’ve ever listened to the Radio 4 programme, you’ll have given some thought to what your choice of book would be. I still can’t pin it down to ‘the one’. If you have, I’d be keen to know what you have chosen.
At the time of writing this post, I feel a little like I’m marooned within my home – what has now become my own little island. But I am lucky enough that I don’t need to choose just one book to read. I have lots of material available to me, not just the physical books which are waiting on my ‘to-be-read shelf’ but also through the power of Borrowbox. There is lots of reading material available at my disposal.
So #StayingAtHome should be the perfect opportunity to catch up with those missed reads – the gems waiting on my shelf ready to be indulged in. Well that’s what I initially thought…
Whilst the commute to work has gone, in-person social activities are on hold and hobbies outside of the home are paused, there is certainly more time for reading. But since the changes to our normal daily lives have been implemented, personally I’ve found it hard to keep up my usual reading habit.
However, through the process of writing this post, I’ve explored a few reasons why that might be, and would like to share some tips that have helped me to carry on reading through the Covid-19 lockdown. I hope that if you are also in a bit of a reading slump, they might help you too.
Read what you enjoy, save the challenging books for later.
Some of those books on my ‘to-be-read’ shelf have been there for a while, and possibly the reason for that is they are a little challenging. A bit out of my comfort zone.
Whilst many are using this time to learn new skills and challenge themselves, I’ve felt I’ve been in need of something a little soothing and familiar. During the current sense of uncertainty and the lack of my normal routine, finding a familiarity in the voices of my favourite authors has given me a sense of grounding. I’ve re-read my favourite books, or chosen new books by favourite authors. Also I’ve sought out writers who have a familiar style to what I would call my ‘go-to’ novelists using suggestions from friends or from online forums such as Goodreads.com or Whichbook.net.
I haven’t put those challenging books away, but I’ve let myself be led by what I actually feel like reading when I am standing there looking at the bookshelf. Not reading what I think I should be reading because it’s the latest prize winner or bestseller.
Reading what you feel like reading – sounds so easy but sometimes you tune out that instinct in favour of completing something you would like to say that you’ve read.
The right setting.
In my home, there is a lovely comfy chair by the window, well-lit with a footstool and a big pillow. Nobody to disturb me, almost total peace and quiet. Sounds perfect right? So why can’t I concentrate on my fabulous book when I’m in that chair? I read a few sentences and my brain starts to migrate to my shopping list or to-do list, or I remember I haven’t checked the news in the past half hour (more on that later).
I’ve realised that I very rarely get the opportunity to sit at home and read. I have a lot of hobbies and I’m very rarely at home. I usually read in noisy cafes, or the park at lunch time or at the busy allotment after digging over a bit of land. Therein lies my personal difficulty, my usual routine doesn’t include quiet reading time.
And so, if you’re struggling to get comfy, I encourage you to think about where and when you would normally read. Is it on the train to work? Perhaps use your usual commute time to continue your reading habit. Possibly the sounds of light background chatter might help recreate that environment and sense of routine for you? It could be the opposite and you’re used to a usually quiet house which is now full and busy. If circumstances allow, finding a quiet space and asking not to be disturbed for 30 minutes might be all you need.
For me, the key was background noise. There are apps and YouTube videos which you can play to replicate your usual reading space soundtrack. I found a cafe background video which is the perfect ‘nudge’ to remind me of my usual reading surroundings. That and the smell of freshly brewed coffee.
Perhaps if you can, keep the time of day when you usually read the same. I’ve found it’s helped. Again, it’s all about the routine for me.
OK, so some distractions at home are inevitable. But others we can control. Like not choosing to read when there is a pile of washing to put out, and of course turning your phone on aeroplane mode, or at least silent. I am not a journalist who needs to check the news every 20 minutes, though that’s sometimes easier said than done, especially at the moment.
Deciding how long you are willing to give a book.
Decide how long you are willing to give a book before choosing not to continue with it. 25 pages, 50 pages, 100 pages? If something isn’t engaging or interesting you, that might be the reason you’re not getting as much reading done.
And remember it’s OK to not finish a book. You might want to come back to it again in another chapter of your life.
Sharing your reading experiences with others.
Tell to people about what you’re reading. Phone them, share it on social media, write a review online or post a review video, create blog posts, join an online book group, let people know what you are passionately reading and keep that enthusiasm bubbling.
I’ve found being part of the Warwickshire Libraries Reading Challenge group on Facebook has helped reignite my love of reading.
eAudiobooks are great for when you want to share reading with others in your household.
It’s the season for spring cleaning and decorating. If you’re lucky enough to have got the materials you needed before the shops shut, then like me you might be planning on doing some jobs around the house. My husband and I have been enjoying listening to eAudiobooks from Borrowbox as we’ve decorated. It’s kept us entertained and the shared listening experience has given us another talking point as we get used to sharing much more time together than usual.
And on that final note about sharing reading, let us know what you’ve been reading and if you’ve been finding it harder or easier to read whilst #StayingAtHome. I’d love to know if you have any other tips too?