I wasn’t that much of a reader as a child. I actually didn’t pick up my passion for books until I was in high school. See, I’d always loved writing, but I always found it difficult to get into whatever was assigned by my teachers. Over time, I learned to add the most energy into independent reading projects and book reports, where I read classics like On the Road by Jack Kerouac and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I even managed to read Looking For Alaska by John Greene and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer for class.
As an adult, I still keep up my reading habit. It’s a great — but also temporary — escape from today’s treacherous political climate. (Of course, that’s assuming you aren’t reading Putin’s Russia by Anna Politkovskaya or Trump: Anatomy of a Monstrosity by Nathan J. Robinson, both of which I’d still recommend). I consider it a great form of self-care, especially depending on which genre I choose to dive into in that moment. (Short horror fiction, anyone? Queer erotica, ‘eh?) Reading helps me both unwind from and prepare me for a big day.
Reading about other peoples’s stories, too, helps me de-center my life experiences and really look at the world from another perspective I likely hadn’t ever considered before.
As a writer myself, reading helps me flex my vocabulary muscles, practice my own craft, and examine the way other successful (or occasionally, not-so-successful) authors write.
Plus, who doesn’t love an indulgent trip to your local public library? It provides a quiet environment to browse through its endless shelves and sit down to flip through a book’s many pages. Just the other day, I checked out a bag full of books. Walking out of the those library doors afterwards felt absolutely amazing, and unloading the new titles on my window sill was an event better feeling.
A lot of people ask me how I keep up with all of my reading — so here’s how I do it, step by step!
I keep up with page-turning via the GoodReads platform, which has both a website and mobile app. I utilize the app for a few reasons. First, it helps me keep a digital record of what I’ve read. If I can’t remember whether I’ve read a certain title, I can always go back and reference it. Second, it’s a personal motivator. You can update the percentage you’ve read of a book by the very page. And if you’re like me, you read several books at a time.
Third, and most importantly, it’s a social accountability tool. The app is a social network for bookworms, connecting me to my Facebook friends and other users. On my dashboard, I see what, when, and how often my friends are reading. Call it creepy, but I say it’s totally motivational. In fact, I’ve had friends approach me about my GoodReads activity and how it helps them find new, interesting books to read.
Additionally, every year, users are asked to embark on a reader’s challenge by setting a reading goal. So far this year, I’m proud to announce I’ve read 81 books. In previous years, I’ve read over 200. It’s already April, so I think with this speed, I’m going to be setting my own personal record by the end of the year!
But of course, reading isn’t about numbers.
It’s not about the pages. I read so much because I love to. I learn from books, especially as a writer looking to cultivate their own writing practice. Whether you use a platform like GoodReads or not, I encourage you to drop by your local library and pick up a book today.