I’m an avid reader. It’s one of my very favourite activities, and it has enriched my life in many more ways than I can enumerate. Books have given me many gifts, chief among them my vocabulary, my understanding of the world, my conversation topics, and – more likely than not – my love of writing.
It physically pains me when people say that a) they don’t like to read, or b) they don’t have time. If you lean more towards a) – I am sad for you. You don’t know what you’re missing! Maybe you’re not reading the right things. Don’t be afraid to try a different genre (sci-fi, culture studies, romance?) of book, or format (short stories, choose-your-own-adventure?). I’m sure there’s a story out there that will grip you, shake you, and spit you back out utterly changed. (In a good way, if that wasn’t immediately obvious).
As for those who agree with statement b)..Codswallop! There’s time. Believe it, there’s time. (Read more about how to make time for your passions.) Are you watching TV while you eat? Could be reading. Are you listening to music on your commute? Could be reading. Are you paying attention in class? Could be reading. (Totally kidding.) There is, of course, the possibility that you’d rather not be reading, and if so: I redirect you to the paragraph above.
For now, let’s operate on the principle that you’d like to be reading, but you can’t find the motivation to make it a priority. Trust me, for all my love of the written word, I can totally understand this notion. More often than I’d like to admit, my books get tossed aside in favour of my shiny, interactive, exciting laptop. And even though I have these insane goals, like read 100 books in 2011, sometimes I shrug them off, and watch MasterChef instead.
So! How did I, a distractable fool of a girl, manage to read 32 books in 32 weeks this year?
My friends, allow me to introduce you to your new #1 tool for Reading Motivation. Shelfari is an online “bookshelf” software that provides 3 key ingredients in the motivation equation:
- Organization: First of all, once you have an account, your personal shelf is already pre-organized into “read”, “to-read” and “currently reading”. All you need to do is search for a book, and add it to one of the three categories. The shelf itself is also very pretty to look at, with full-colour pictures of all your book covers displayed in an attractive way. There’s a 5-star rating system and a favourites category, so you can further organize your books however you like. It makes me happy to see my books presented just like on a real bookshelf, and that feeling alone keeps me motivated!
- Accountability: Shelfari can also keep track of your reading challenges, and remind you if you’re ahead or behind on your timeline, every time you log in. This is a great way to push yourself to read, lest you forget how much you’ve procrastinated already.
- Competition: You can also add your friends, and check out what they’ve been reading, what books they like, or how fast they’re speeding through the pages! I find that this little bit of healthy competition keeps me going, and gets me excited to check out the books my friends love.
Having a system that works is one of the best ways I’ve found to keep myself reading. As a lover of To-Do lists (and crossing things off them!) one of my favourite parts of Shelfari is the ability to mark books as “read” once I’m done them. It doesn’t mean I speed through them or love the books any less, it’s just another happy layer of satisfaction in my reading experience.
I’ve also used the service GoodReads which functions almost exactly the same, and which I also recommend highly. The only reason I use Shelfari primarily is because I discovered it first, and so I’d already built up a collection by the time I found GoodReads. But both are equally good. GoodReads has more quizzes and lists, whereas Shelfari has a more interactive and attractive “bookshelf”. I would definitely suggest checking out both before choosing.
So, are you a reader? Do you have a system to motivate yourself to make time for good old-fashioned books? How do you make time for reading in your busy schedule? Any tips or tricks to squeeze more reading time out of your day?
I’d love to hear from you, because any advice I can get about reading is good advice! Chime in below in the comments.
Pick up a book today!
N.B. This is not sneaky product placement, I simply genuinely love Shelfari!