“There aren’t enough hours in the day,”
“There aren’t any good books,”
“My baby’s mama scratched my eyes out when I was on the Maury show so I can’t read no more.”
The excuses are legion, and largely baseless, and you know, they build monuments to nothingness and such. I’ve used at least one of those excuses to explain my lack of literary spine crackin’ since I got a full time gig, but decided that the excuses had to go (hence this blog). Here are some ways to jump start your reading so you can sound well-versed at your next faculty cocktail party (or Maury show appearance):
1. Join a book club – This is one of the best things you can do to increase your literary consumption. Accountability from friends + books you actually like = more reading. You get the benefit of breaking down the work piece by piece with other people so you don’t have to go it alone, and you can explore perspectives than your own. Twitter is full of book clubs and Oprah just restarted hers. The one I’m digging now is Ninja’s Be Reading (#NBR), which takes place every Tuesday at 9 pm EST. It’s fun, engaging, and makes reading a group thang. Join one. NOW!
2. Get an audio book – Audio books are the easiest way to digest a book if you are always traveling really far places, i.e. across the Washington D.C. Beltway. If you are stuck in traffic for an hour or two, listening to a book will take your mind off the jerk who just gave you the finger and sideswiped you, and it’ll keep that throbbing vein thingy in your forehead from bursting. Definitely worth a shot.
3. Set aside specific time – What I’ve found is that when I make statements like, “I just don’t have time,” what I really mean is, “I have some extra time, but I used it to to follow the latest Breezy beef on Twitter/shop for hair weaves on Amazon/look at Bossip.” Carving out time for your reading (and writing, for you authors out there) is an important habit to build. I can’t tell you why it’s important, I just know that it is. Don’t ‘spute my word.
4. Join the future – Buy a Kindle. Or a Nook, or a something. There are short story apps you can download and read on the train ride home. Reading Rainbow is now an app, you can use it to read to your kids at night. No need to be married to the past if paper books don’t do it for you.
5. Go someplace else – Maybe your usual reading den is crowded with baby bassinets and strollers. Maybe reading in your bed puts you to sleep within 6 seconds of opening a book. Maybe the feng shui in your apartment is just off. It don’t matter. Find another spot. Go to the nearest library, Starbucks, or big comfy couch, just find someplace where you can get your read on.
6. Mix it in with other things – I like to call this the “eating your vegetables” approach, based on how moms mix vegetables into tasty things to make them more palatable (broccoli popsicles, anyone?). If you’re a gym rat and easily spend an hour on the treadmill, try slapping a book or Kindle up on your dash instead of feverishly watching the time go down. You can exercise and expand your knowledge…AT THE SAME DAMN TIME!
7. Count the small wins – Even if you can’t get through the David Foster Wallace book that’s been chillin’ on a shelf for the past year, still try to read the daily news, blogs, and social media networks to stay abreast of current information and to find new works of fiction. Twitter counts. Facebook counts. I like to think of reading status updates as reading smaller bits of self-published narrative *adjusts monocle*.
Hope this lights a fire under your ass to find something dope to read :) Let me know what motivates you!