This post is inspired by Laurie Hertzel’s July 24 column in the Minneapolis StarTribune titled “Making the Most of Your Reading Time.” I think many of us are reading more — or trying to read more — these past few months. Maybe it’s working well, or maybe it’s not. It’s mostly working well for me, though I remain a little off pace for the reading goal of 45 books I set at the beginning of the year. However, I hold out hope that I will reach it! I have adjusted my reading habits this year to shake things up a bit. What follows is what’s working for me — I hope you can find a bit of inspiration, especially if you’re stuck.
Mix it up. If you’re like me, you’re reading some pretty heavy, thought-provoking stuff. If you can read more than one book at a time, make sure you’ve also chosen something light. Read the lighter stuff before bed. If you can’t read more than one book at a time, then switch between heavy and light.
Break out of your comfort zone. I would happily read nothing but nonfiction for the rest of my life. But this year I have been more intentional about reading fiction. I take my cue from reviews in the New York Times and StarTribune. I’ve put what looks like good stuff on my wish list. Already I’m so pleased because I read The Vanishing Half and was blown away. And I signed up for a Herman Melville class at the beginning of the summer. We read portions of Moby Dick (I have a goal to keep plugging away) and also “Bartleby the Scrivener.” Choose something you don’t read much — poetry, mysteries, romance — and give it a shot.
Travel the world. Most of us are either homebound or traveling only as far as a car will take us. I was supposed to go to England in May, and travel plans for 2021 are still unknown. In the meantime, I can travel the world through books. I have few books lying around by British authors, bought on my various trips there. Right now I’m reading Gossip From the Forest.
Pick up that book you bought months or years ago and actually read it! I did this a few weeks ago. Your soul knows what books you need, even if the time that you bought them isn’t the time to read them. I bought Zen on the Trail in 2018 in Austin, Texas, when I was on a yoga retreat. It seemed like a very yoga retreat book to buy! I half-heartedly gave it a start then shelved it. But now, this summer I’m spending more time in the woods near Lake Superior so it’s the perfect book to read there.
And like Laurie says, put away your damn device. I have greatly reduced my time on social media and also time that I interact with the news. Instead I’m writing, reading, working, and getting outside. Those hours in which I’m engaged with words or nature or even work are so calm and refreshing. That mood helps me weather the bad news much more easily.
Tell me what’s working in your reading life this year!