In 2015, I challenged myself to read 70 books and I ended up reading 80. It was not easy, but I learned so much in the process. My goal wasn’t to reach a specific number – it was to diversify my thoughts and understanding of the world.
Most of my friends say they can only read a book a month, but by the end of 2015 I was reading 5-8 books a month. I read just a couple of ‘easy reads’ in the Young Adult fiction genre. Here’s how I reached my goal:
Picking the right books.
It’s important to find the right kind of books when you want to get a lot of reading done. For me, that was mostly modern classics and books from different cultures. You need to ensure you feel inspired by the books you read. I don’t feel inspired when I read YA fiction, so it’s no surprise that I read just 2 or three of them the entire year.
Read, every day.
Regardless of whether I had a final the next day or an important event, I set some time aside that was dedicated to reading.
Read before bed.
I read for at least thirty minutes before sleeping every night.
Maintain a reading diary.
I have a diary dedicated to writing my thoughts about the books I read; I write my analysis of the character, what I think is going on in the story and even my favourite quotes from the book. It’s sort of a book review in process, but it mostly helps me articulate my feelings and thoughts.
Read in the car.
I don’t drive so that gave me a ‘free’ hour every day in the car. Instead of browsing social media I dedicated that time to reading.
Always carry a book.
I never stepped outside the house without my current read. Once I did some grocery shopping at Panda and the checkout counters closed for prayer right when I was done. I parked my cart at the counter and read To Kill a Mockingbird while waiting. Others were just standing around idly, which made me realise how much time I would have wasted otherwise. Of course, I am not implying that everyone else wasted their time, personally I prefer reading to doing nothing.
Reading after classes.
One of the first things I do before I leave for university is making sure I’ve taken my book with me. I read in between my classes if I’m free, and sometimes after I finish all my classes, I buy green tea and sit outside and read for at least thirty minutes.
Connect with booklovers.
I created a Bookstagram account (@sumaiyya.books) where I share my love for books and reading. I’m in touch with hundreds of bookworms from around the world who introduce me to all kinds of books and authors and keep me motivated through their own love for reading. I like to think that I do the same for them, too.
Goodreads is an online community for booklovers to share reviews and their reading progress. Through Goodreads I was able to track my reading progress and at the same time see what everyone else was reading. It’s a great way to keep the motivation flowing and to discover new books and authors.
Regular bookstore trips.
I went to the bookstore at least once a month to check out what they have and to treat myself to new books. A growing book collection also kept me motivated to explore more because my options were not limited. Although, I must admit that bookstores in Saudi Arabia need upgraded collections.
Planning my weekend.
I made reading my priority; so on some weekends I preferred to stay at home, make coffee and sit back to read instead of roaming around at the malls.
Somehow I managed to convince my brother to start reading again. Now we go to Starbucks on the weekends with his wife (who is also a bookworm!) to read and have coffee together. There’s nothing better than reading in silence with those you love.
Many people tell me I read ‘too much’ or that they just don’t have the time to read. The same people might prefer to spend hours watching cat videos or TV series. My main advice is to make reading a priority. If you want to do it, you will regardless of how busy you are.