Goodreads has to be one of the social media’s gems for bibliophiles. If actively used, it is a wonderful platform to connect with fellow book lovers and keep track of your reading habits. Having surpassed my goal of 20 by almost 200% in 2015 and just hit the 100% mark in 2016, I am keen on tackling a more diverse approach to the material that I was consuming while hopefully surpassing previous goals. Here are a couple of tips which I hope will be helpful…
Goodreads has to be one of the social media’s gems for bibliophiles. If actively used, it is a wonderful platform to connect with fellow book lovers and keep track of your reading habits. Having surpassed my goal of 20 by almost 200% in 2015 and just hit the 100% mark in 2016, I am keen on tackling a more diverse approach to the material that I was consuming while hopefully surpassing previous goals. Here are a couple of tips which I hope will be helpful.
Set reasonable goals: If you are juggling a job, school and family. it might be a bit crazy to have a Goodreads goal of 200. 2015 was a crazy year for me. I was deep in the thick of graduate school that I postponed all my recreational reading until the summer. Once I had completed my dissertation, I raided my university library where I spotted some easy to read books on classical composers which jump-started my reading journey for the rest of the year. Which brings me to my next point…
Quality over Quantity: The rise of genres such as graphic novels, YA, utopian/dystopian etc has increased the push to make reading more of lifestyle as well as encourage more diverse reading. While the jury is out on the definition of a well-read person, I want to be more intentional with the material that read.
Recently, reading fewer while discussing reading and social media, Alysia from Ex-Libris said that one of her 2016 reading fewer but bigger books so that she can be less afraid to pick up longer books (think Les Mis and Middlemarch) while savouring the reading experience. I have always been intimidated by Classics, so one of curbing this fear is experimenting with Penguin Little Black Classics to get a feel of whether I will read more works by a particular author. I am all for reading so that I gain something new- knowledge, skill or just to escape. I don’t think you want to be the person who only meets their Goodreads goal but can’t discuss their contents.
Always have a book with you: In Glasgow, I lived an hour’s bus ride from the city centre. I took advantage of this opportunity to read as many books as I could be including Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Asia and The Reluctant Fundamentalist on separate occasions. Now that I am back in Nairobi, where a distance of 15 minutes takes an hour to commute during rush hour, I am sure that I will be able to still make my goal. So whether its bank queue or a train ride or long-haul international flight, switch off your WiFi or save your airtime bundles.
Read books in different formats: I must confess that I have a love-hate relationship with audio and digital books. Like most bibliophiles, I prefer the feel and smell of a physical copy. In 2016, I have promised myself to give Audible a shot. Ashley from Climb the Stacks recommends novice audiobook listeners foraying into the format by picking non-fiction books specifically humour and memoir genres because they have an added touch of authenticity and personality. (Watch “Where to begin: Audiobooks”). Holly from Library at the Edge of the World another Audible app fan suggests that you can speed up the narration, kinda like making someone talk faster.
Keep a digital To-be-read (TBR) rather than a physical one. I must admit that one of the evils of booktube is that one is subconsciously influenced to purchase books and maintain an insane TBR list. Readers create undue pressure on themselves to have the latest contemporary reads and even have similar opinions. Having a digital TBR will not only reduce the clutter in your space and delaying your purchase will give you more time to do your research whether you really want a physical copy or will you check it out your local library.
Use your library card: I am guilty of dismissing public libraries for not having updated collections and were merely places where I could only find academic materials. I was pleasantly surprised when I signed up to the Glasgow local libraries and had access to books published in 2015 and was able to even read books long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Now that I am back in Nairobi I have to admit I am yet to survey the library in my area. I hope that I will also be pleasantly surprised again. Please give your bank account a holiday and take a tour of your local library.
You don’t have to finish all the books you buy or borrow: Life is too short to read boring books (unless it’s on your course reading list).
If someone recommends a book, borrow his or her book from their stash or have them give it you as a gift: This will make them put their money where their mouth is
Shop from your bookshelf
Clean out your bookshelf. Now that I am finally a bit settled at home, I began the decluttering process in my space starting with my bookshelf. I will be un-hauling books that I bought because they are bestseller lists but I found them utterly boring, books that were simply gathering dust and that I would like to find a new home. To be quite honest, I felt a sense of liberation and glad that I am now keeping books that I genuinely want to give a try. There is no point carrying extra luggage into the new year.
Raid your parents’ bookshelf: After my mum finished her postgraduate degree in gender and women’s studies, I raided her book collection and found Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Danzy Senna’s Caucasia. Stay tuned for reviews.
Re-read your books: I know you are probably why this is even here but hear me out. You are likely to read much faster since the text is more familiar and more pleasurable especially if it is a comfort-read. Plus, I am sure that I am not the only one who is excited to use the re-read feature on Goodreads.
I am curious…Do you use Goodreads? Please let me know in the comments below.
P.S. This is not a sponsored post. I am just a Goodreads junkie.
In case you are interested: My Literary Blindspots