Four Ways To Step Up Your Reading Game

If reading a book seems like a chore, chances are that you are not doing it right. You either need to substitute the book you are reading for another book, because, let us be honest - life is too short for the boring stuff. Or, you just simply need to step up your reading game. This involves personalising your reading and finding your algoreadim - get it? no? okay. 

 Image:  Marianne Paul  for The Book Banque  Book pictured:  23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism  By Ha-Joon Chang

Image: Marianne Paul for The Book Banque

Book pictured: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism By Ha-Joon Chang

#1: Pace Yourself.

One of the biggest challenges to reading is actually making your way through a whole book. If you are a slow reader, or perhaps, a new reader, the thought of reading through so many pages easily makes a major deterrent. The key, however, is to pace yourself and set realistic goals. Just as with life, we say take each day (chapter) as it comes. You could commit to reading a chapter or ten pages a day - whatever works for you. By doing so, you are able to focus more on what you have read, and have reason to pick up the book the next day, and the day following the next. If squeezing in a chapter into a busy schedule makes your reading goal seem impossible, let us assure you that there is always time for a good read.

Whether you commute via public transport or are chauffeured around town, this is usually the perfect opportunity to get through a few pages. If you drive, you could consider getting up forty-five minutes earlier than usual to read before setting out for the day. Our mantra? Wake, pray, read a chapter, slay. If you are able to throw in an exercise session in there, good on you. The reverse - slay, read, pray, sleep - is also worth considering, if you are not a morning person. Alternatively, you could invest in an audio book and have a listen while dressing up, in traffic or simply unwinding in bed. The options are endless, really. It is all about pacing yourself; reading smarter, not necessarily bigger.

#2: Make Your (Book) Mark, Make It Count.

Need we repeat that life is too short for the boring stuff? This applies to literally everything, including your bookmark(s). Photocards, Polaroid pictures and pictures from your favourite holiday, birthday, wedding party or night out make the best bookmarks! Not only are they a great way to personalise your reading experience, they are also likely to significantly increase your chances of picking up the book being read. If you are co-reading with a friend or a partner, using a picture of both of you as a bookmark would also serve as a subtle reminder of your commitment. You are guaranteed to have a smile on your face, whenever you pick up your read - either because of the photo or the content, or both.

Your bookmark could be your favourite quote or Bible verse. It could also be words of affirmation or words you live by - your call. There is absolutely no limit. If you have a younger sibling or nephew/niece or child with itchy hands, or you are simply a creative yourself, we recommend having a little arts and crafts session, and making or painting your own bookmark. It gets a bonus point as a stress reliever, and a fantastic way to spend time with family, while enhancing your reading experience. See? It is all about winning. You could follow this guide to making a photo bookmark or get some inspiration from Pinterest here. We got you!

#3: Remember: Less Is Bore - Not More.

Minimalism should really be left to your living room or workspace. Unless it is a book borrowed from a library, a friend, a reading book or The Book Banque - yes, we have books you can borrow and review - your book should be your cognitive space, your idea board and your intellectual battleground. People tend to read for different reasons, and not all books are written to have you asking questions - agreed. A good book should however at least transport you to a new world, and have you bursting with ideas good enough to want to write them down. You need not be as colourful as us - although a little colour ain’t never hurt nobody - but could use coloured pens to make annotations, and trace your web of thoughts.

Highlighters are, likewise, a reader’s best friend. You could use different colours for different things. For example, allocate one colour to new or key words; another colour to phrases you would like to research further or learn more about; yet another colour for those sentences that have you nodding, and wanting to give the author a high five. This not only makes it easier for you to make references whenever you pick up a book, but it also helps with remembering making life-changing sentences stick. If you however like to keep things simple, you can use a pencil to underline or make notes - we won’t judge you, we promise.

#4: Pause, Reflect, Assimilate.

It is so easy to get lost in a book, or conversely, find yourself lost by a book. Taking time after each chapter, or before starting a new chapter, to pause and reflect on the last chapter read is a fantastic way to better assimilate concepts, ideas, themes and characters. You could do this by asking yourself a few questions about each chapter, or simply orally summarising each chapter. Alternatively, you could write down a brief summary on the last page of a chapter - that is, if the margin allows - using bullet points or a visual tool such as mind mapping. This makes referencing easier especially with large volume books, and saves you flipping through several pages of annotations.

Similarly, sticky notes or stickies - again with the colours - are an effective tool to use for summaries, and building a vocabulary list. They are great for organising your thoughts, and particularly helpful when reading books borrowed or shared. You could either neatly fold them into the book, or use them as as bookmarks or indicators for key summaries, words and thoughts. The best part? You can use as many as you want! If you like to read a book multiple times, you are able to note new things that stand out, and simply laugh at your previous train of thoughts. For a book shared - for example, a travelling book - it allows you read other people’s summaries and contribute yours!

Making the most of your reading experience is relatively simple. It starts with being intentional, and making your reading more personal for you. With that said, this guide may not be your cup of tea. We do, at least, hope that it serves as a dart to your reading board, and inspires to make reading fun.

If you have any tips on how to read better and smarter, be a brother’s keeper and kindly share in the engagement section below. You could also share your words of wisdom via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #TBBNQReads.