1. Do you have a favorite author? Terrific. A new release from them, or re-reading a special book, can cause a celebration. But what do you do while you’re waiting? How about checking out that author’s web page and seeing if they mention any authors that inspired them? Or pull one of their books from your shelf and see if they mention any authors in their acknowledgments or dedications. You never know. You might find another favorite author and have a larger pool of books to keep you occupied.
2. Decide what kind of reader you are. Do you keep books pristine as they taught you in elementary school or do you like to have a conversation with your books and mark them up with questions, comments, and annotations? If you like to have books pristine for your collection, consider buying two copies. If you like to make notes, you might want to consider buying the book for your e-reader, so you can take notes on the device. Personally, I buy books to enjoy. I own a few autographed copies of favorites that I don’t touch, but for the most part, you can tell my books have been loved. I like a book that shows its age, that has had a full life.
3. Don’t be shy about speaking about the books you love. Tell your friends. Leave reviews. Write the author. I can tell you that nothing makes my day like receiving a note, a tweet, a message, an email from someone who had a fun time reading one of my books.
4. You don’t have to finish a book. I give you permission, right here, right now, to put aside a book you aren’t enjoying. There are so many books out there; why would you want to waste your time on something you aren’t enjoying? A caveat: I am not speaking about a book you must read for a class or an assignment. If you’re not enjoying one of those, you still have to suck it up and read it. Sorry. But if you’re reading for pleasure, you don’t have to finish. Really, you don’t. Find something you will enjoy. The world won’t end if you don’t finish a book. Honestly. I’ve not finished a lot of books. Time continued forward and societies didn’t collapse (at least not from not reading). Okay, if you absolutely must finish everything you pick up (and I understand; I was once like you), learn to skim. Jump ahead by several chapters. Most of the time you can keep up.
5. Don’t let anyone tell you what to read. You don’t have to apologize for anything you enjoy reading. Or justify it. You can read what you want. When I taught, I often had parents ask me to recommend books for their children. I told them to let the kids pick. It didn’t matter if they chose classics, genre, or even comic books. All reading is good for you. (I hate making absolute statements. There is some reading material that is awful—for society, for humanity, etc.—but I don’t even want to acknowledge them…even though I just have.)
6. Taking time to read is NOT a waste of time. Escape is good for the soul, and if the dishes don’t get done for an hour, who gives a flying fig? (That’s right. I don’t cuss much. It doesn’t offend me, but I can’t pull it off comfortably. On the other hand, when you do hear me cuss, then you know I really mean it.)
7. And yes, you can judge people when they say they never read. I do all the time, and not just because I’m an author. I don’t understand people who don’t read. Or say they don’t have time to read. I can’t imagine a good life without books. I might have some acquaintances who don’t read (and some family members, but I’m stuck with those), but they’ll never reach the friend stage. Call me shallow, but, yes, reading means that much to me. My youngest is intellectually handicapped, and for years my greatest tragedy was that she hated reading. I’m happy to say now that that has changed. She reads a lot now—oh, at a very low level, but she’s reading. And writing too. She writes fan fic. And reading and writing has helped her language skills in ways that therapy and special ed classes never did. So, yes, I’m willing to judge people who don’t read.
Books are brilliant, dangerous, enlightening, educational, entertaining, elucidating, and a relatively inexpensive big bang for your buck. There’s a reason dictators get rid of intellectuals first when they take over. Books contain ideas, and ideas create greatness and wonder and curiosity and freedom. So read a book.
Books I’m reading now:
Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin