Sunday, January 10, 2016

My new reading system

There are fast books and there are slow books. The fast books are the ones that grab you immediately and force you to finish them in a day. The slow books generally take much longer. You might have to plod through half the book before you're officially hooked. Other books never hook you at all.

I know some people who only read fast books. If they're not hooked by the end of the first chapter, they put the book down and never touch it again. I hate the idea of this. Yes, some books are slow (or start out that way), but if I put down every book that didn't hook me immediately, I would miss out on a lot of great books.

The thing about slow books is that you have to learn how to read them in a way that fits your schedule. When I was younger, I didn't believe in leaving books unfinished. I also refused to read more than one book at a time, unless one of them was for school. I would stagger the fast books and the slow books so that the fast books would motivate me to get through the slow ones faster. This only worked marginally well. I would sometimes spend weeks or even months trying to get through a slow book, while the fast books taunted me from the shelf.

After a while, I decided to compromise. "One book at a time" was still the default, but If I'd been reading a book for a few weeks and with no hope of finishing it any time soon, I would throw in another book. If by page 100 or so, the book was still boring and there was nothing redeeming about it, then I would DNF.

This year, however, I came with a new system--one where two books is the default setting. Based on the pace of the book, I set a certain page goal or chapter goal for each day and follow that until the book speeds up. Since I'm reading two books, I can still get a lot of reading done. It works even better if I partner a fast book with a slow book.

I've been using this system for the last 10 days, and I'm currently on my 5th book (and about to start my 6th). I'm expecting to finish 7-9 books during this month alone. (Confession: It also helps that I've blocked certain social media accounts for several hours a day.)

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