I have always been a slow reader. Even back in high school, when I ate big books for dinner and asked for another for dessert, they always took me awhile. The Elfstone Series by Terry Brooks, White Gold Wielder by Stephen R. Donaldson, The Stand by Stephen King, The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice, all took me a few weeks. Even with school, a part-time Mickey D’s job, and various band and theater obligations, I always had time to read at a languid pace.
Then college came, and my slow reading really truly became a handicap. So. Much. Reading. Cliff notes became my best buddies. The amount and the density of what I had to read took its toll.
And then the kid came, then the job, then another kid.
I stopped reading for pleasure. I stopped doing anything for pleasures so I could manage my single household without falling from the cliffs of insanity. I survived and pressed forward until one night in my mid-twenties, I picked up an old Star Wars novelization Children of the Jedi by Barbara Hambly and started reading. I read, and read, and read all night. I had forgotten how good it was to lose myself in a story. Not long after that, I had my why-am-I-not-a-writer-yet-it’s-my-destiny epiphany.
Books flowed into my life again, everything from YA (the Hunger Games) to the latest, steamy Harlequin (the Italian Count’s Virgin). I devoured them like chocolate chip cookies at a fat camp. Then I tried to dip back into my first love–doorstop books. I read the epic fantasy Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. It was great, but my slow reading coupled with a Doctor Who addition split my focus. Three months later, I finished.
Three months is not fast enough. As a writer, I need to keep up with the market and know what is selling. More, I want to read.
My oldest daughter suggested Game of Thrones and I was hesitant. The series consisted of giant books and a lot of them. Then I saw a few snippets from the HBO series and intrigue sucked me in.
I loved it. The characters! The story! The random death! No one was safe. But the book was so dense, so layer, with so many points of view I got bogged down.
Another crippling habit I have, as a writer I want to stop and analyze why something is great, a turn of a phrase, a plot twist, a character arc and there is much to admire in GOT.
In the end, I plod along. I read some GOT, then take a break and read a short quick book, then more GOT. I should finish sometime after good ole George finally finishes the series, and that’s ok. I try to avoid internet spoilers but I have a feeling more of my favorite characters will die.
As a writer, I have to read.
As a reader, I want to read.
Here are some methods I have found help me to reading more:
-Make extra blocks of time, lunch at work, a coffee break, a dentist appointment waiting room
-Always have a book with you
-Plan to write a review on your blog and Goodreads
-Join your library’s summer reading program (some have prizes even for the adults)
-Dedicate a half an hour before bed to reading
-Audio books (I’m a bit hesitant to make this suggestion. Some books do not translate well to audio and I find the experience vastly different from reading. But I have to say, the Harry Potter books sound absolutely brilliant on audio book).
These tips won’t speed up your reading but they did help make it a priority in my life. What are some of the ways that you fit reading into your day? For every comment you leave, I will finish another book this year. (even *gasp* a Game of Thrones whooper.)