You are a reader. Whether you read stories or novels, on paper or on an electronic device, you get pleasure out of reading. But I’ll bet there’s at least one thing you can do to improve your experience. Consider these 12 ways to increase your reading pleasure and let me know if you try one.
The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.Ursula K. Le Guin
1. Decide What to Read
What do you want to achieve? Learn something? Be entertained? Be frightened silly? Be encouraged by a hero?
Read what you like. Unless it’s a school assignment or a skill-learning attempt, don’t waste time reading what you don’t like. Also read books for your reading level or a bit higher. Don’t know what your reading level is? Go to the library (or an online store like Amazon, Kobo, or B&N for those of us self-quarantining), and look at the first pages of a book that interests you. Your reading level should be a bit uncomfortable (in order to stretch yourself) but not so difficult that you put the book down and down and never go back to it.
Switch it up. Read for entertainment one time, read to learn the next…Or read a romance then a thriller then science fiction. (Or whichever genres you prefer.) The point is to read different genres. Try something you’ve never read before. It will enhance your experience of read and will stretch your brain & thinking.
2. Always have a Book on Deck
If you’re a list person, have a list that’s great, but also have the next one or two books on hand. Some people like to have a to-be-read pile—literally sitting on their shelf or floor. (Don’t ask whose bookshelf broke under the weight of her TBR’s.)
Find a source for new-to-you book recommendations. Try one of the many sites where you can find book lists: Pinterest, book clubs (virtual and in-person), book buddies, and social media groups (search Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
My First Line Fridays posts on this site offer the first lines of books for your consideration.
There are also sites dedicated to books like Liminal Fiction, Goodreads, and BookBub.
Keep a list—written in your journal, a Pinterest board, or a file on your tablet or computer.
3. Make Where You Read Pleasurable
Each person’s most pleasurable reading place will be unique. A book nook somewhere in your home or someplace else. The location should be a place where you love to read. Is that out in nature, in your bedroom, a Library, a coffee shop, a reading shed? You decide.
Of course you should choose the clothing that makes you comfortable.
Which position do you most prefer for reading? Is an overstuffed chair with lots of pillows, or at a table, or is curling up in a beanbag chair your thing?If you like to read in the bath, consider using a bathtub organizer.
Set the ambiance just for you. Perhaps you like instrumental music or nature sounds (real or recorded) in the background while you read. Binaural Beats might give you the ability to sink into a book. Maybe you prefer silence.
What scents make your reading experience delightful? Fresh flowers, a scented candle, or essential oil may help transport you into that book’s world.
And don’t forget good lighting and the right temperature. Warm or cool? A fan set on low? Or would you like to bundle up in blankets?
4. Gather Reading Accessories
What will you need to make your reading experience extra pleasurable? Fill your reading nook or spot with the things that make reading enjoyable. Choose a special journal and a pen or pencil (or if electronic—the device you need).
If you like to mark passages, invest in colored markers or self-sticking notes or page markers.
It’s your choice whether to use blankets and pillows to create a reading fort.
If you don’t have a dedicated reading nook—get a reusable bag and keep your reading accessories in it—now you have a portable reading nook
5. Schedule Time to Read
Life gets busy and stressful. Especially in the interesting times during which we are living. We may miss reading time because other priorities or events get in the way. Remember, if it’s not on the schedule, it’s not done.Set a specific time on a specific date or day of the week for reading.
While you’re at it, schedule library borrowing time or Book shopping time.
6. Use a Reading Tracker
Nick Wignall introduced me to the so-called Seinfeld Method to track your reading. Put a wall or desk calendar in your reading nook or with your reading accessories. When you accomplish your reading goal, whether it’s minutes, hours, or pages, fill in a square on the calendar with a brightly colored marker. On a day when you don’t accomplish your goal, put a big fat X. The point is to make it visible. You can easily see how often you’re meeting your goal. Bet you’ll want to see if you can achieve your goal more days in a row. And you can adjust your goal up or down as needed.
I keep a spreadsheet and a journal. Both are also for my writing. I add the book’s title on the start date & the end date. (I’m nerdy like that.)
7. Join a Book Club or Find a Book Buddy
Join a book club. Or if groups make you uncomfortable, find a reading buddy or two.
Listening to what others say about the book expands your experience. Is your experience different from theirs? Why do you think you experienced it differently? Did you learn something new from what the others said?
You can find virtual book clubs and book buddies on social media platforms.
8. Journal Your Reading
This is important for me. I read and write so much, it’s often difficult to remember if that book was about this.
Journal about the book you’re reading. Jot notes about identifiers or memory jogs like the setting, time, characters, and character goals. Or write about what specifically you like about the book, what don’t you like, what intrigues you, what do you wish you knew more about. Need more suggestions? Read #9 Explore the book.
9. Explore the Book
When you encounter a word you don’t know—look it up. If using your smart phone distracts you and you end up down a social media rabbit-hole—use a physical book. You can buy a cheap paperback dictionary for just a few dollars.
Is there a foreword or afterword? Did you read it? How did it improve or add to your experience reading the book?
Look up the setting on the internet. It might be real. In my Fellowship Dystopia series, I used some actual locations and some real routes.
Use your imagination to “be in the setting.” What sights, scents, textures, and sounds are there? Is one stronger than the others? What one sight or sound or scent reminds you of the book?
Look up the story concept of a science fiction novel online. See if you can figure out what information inspired the author.
Explore the characters. Are they real-life characters? Read a short online bio to see how true to reality the writer made that character.
Write a letter to a character or write a letter as if you were one character writing the other.
10. Try the Audio Experience
Buy or borrow an audio book (yes, libraries will lend them). Listening to a book, you experience the story differently. If the narrator is skillful, it’s as pleasurable as reading to yourself.
Try reading aloud to increase your reading pleasure. Read to a child or to yourself. Reading aloud will help you read each word and process the book differently from reading silently. Some authors have rhyming or rhythmic styles that are quite pleasurable to read out loud.
11. Learn more about the Author
Many authors have websites with bios and bits of information about their life and their writing. Visit their Amazon author pages, or Goodreads bios, or look them up on Twitter or Facebook. Instagram has a special hashtag called bookstagram you might enjoy.
12. Send the Author Feedback
Write a review on the online store where you bought the book or on the author’s website in the comments or send them an email. If you discover you like several of the author’s books, join their newsletter or their street team.
I hope you enjoyed and found 12 Ways to Increase Your Reading Pleasure helpful. Do you do any of these things? Which ones work best for you?