Let me be the first to admit that I’ve never been an avid reader or even someone who particularly enjoys reading, but as I’ve settled into my 3rd year of college as an English major, I’ve had to find ways to curate a reading experience that was enjoyable for me, especially when reading books that aren’t the least bit interesting.
Although I’ve always wanted to be the bookish type with color-coded page tabs and annotations of complete plot breakdowns, that’s never been me – despite my profound love of libraries and bookstores. As a writer, I’m often told that I cannot be a writer without first being a reader, which I can also say I agree with – some of my best writing was inspired by reading other pieces of writing.
I can’t deny it, but I also can’t deny the busyness of my life and the rapid pace in which my brain works that makes it difficult for me to slow down and embrace the luxury of a good book.
If you’re someone who struggles with finding a book that interests you, finding time to read, or finding ways to slow down enough to be invested in a book, now is a good time to start finding solutions, as October is National Book Month.
Here a some tips to help you navigate National Book Month:
- Find the book medium that’s best for you
- Today, books come in a variety of formats, such as hardback, paperback, digital, and audio-only. For me, it’s hard to follow audiobooks, as I am easily distracted, and e-books are often hard to read because they strain my eyes. While most may not care whether their books are hardback or paperback, I prefer hardback, as paperback books can be hard to grip. These may seem like miniscule particulars, but they can make great impacts on your reading experience, so figure out what works for you and stick to those types of books.
- Create an environment that works for you
- For me, a calm, peaceful environment is the best for me to read in, so I often read in a quiet spot in the park or in the reading nook I curated for myself in my bedroom that’s equipped with comfy seating and ambient lighting. For others, a noisy environment doesn’t bother them, and in these cases, a nice coffee shop might be ideal – let the aromas of fresh-brewed coffee and just-baked scones waft over you as you get lost in a library-find. Sometimes, I even like to play light music as I read, but if you’re in public, be sure to wear headphones or earbuds.
- Find a genre that interests you
- Personally, you’ll never catch me reading a book of fiction, if not for a class. It’s never been my forte, and as much as I have BookTok fomo, I don’t think I’ll ever be a fiction lover. If you’re like me, it can be hard to find books that do interest you, as most books marketed are YA fiction, but you just have to ignore the front-of-store displays at bookstores and find your niche. For me, that’s poetry, personal essays, memoirs, and other forms of self-reflective texts. Peruse the aisles of your local library or bookstore and find what jumps out at you.
- Find ways of staying engaged
- Sometimes it can be hard to get invested and stay invested in a book, so you have to find some tool that encourages you to stay with it. This can be color-coded tabs, annotating the margins, or highlighting important details or references that stick out to you. One helpful tool is Googling words or phrases that you may not know or recognize. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when you’re unfamiliar with what you’re reading, but you can combat that by learning, which will further your understanding and may even make you more interested in the text. Another fun thing that got me excited about reading was making fun bookmarks to hold my place, and it motivated me to get to move it further and further through the pages.
- Be intentional about reading time
- Initially, I struggled with finding time to read because of my busy schedule, but once I became intentional with my time and reading goals, it got a lot easier. The hardest part is always starting, so I would allot myself 30 minutes a day to read, but this time quickly grew into an hour or two of reading as I would become enthralled by what I was reading. You can try that technique, you can set monthly reading goals, or if your phone is holding you back, put it on Do Not Disturb, and set a reading timer – you can check your phone after that time is up. Start small, and ease your way into creating time in your daily life to be an intentional reader.
These are just a few tips that have helped me navigate becoming a stronger reader, and they may not work for everyone, but if you do nothing else this month, read at least one book, even if it’s just to say that you read a book this month. (And hey, even if you just start a book this month, that’s progress and proof that you’re trying!)
Maleigh Crespo is a junior English writing major, journalism minor on the education track at Loyola University New Orleans. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and couldn't see herself doing anything else. When she’s not writing, she can be found blasting Taylor Swift, online shopping, or feeding the squirrels in Audubon Park. You can reach her at email@example.com.