Reads | Read Better Books


So if you're NOT an avid reader (reading 0 - 10 books a year) I suggest reading my first blog post on how to read more books a year LINK. This post is for those who are avid readers, and trying to either expand outside of their reading bubble, up either the quantity or quality of books, or simply just immerse themselves even more into reading culture. 

I now read anywhere from 40 - 60 books a year. Not only is the quantity of books I'm reading fairly high, but the quality of books I'm reading is also much better! I've found my reading niche, and how to get out of it when needed. Here's how! 

1. Listening vs Reading 
    My first blog post mentioned embracing all the platforms that make books available to you - Audiobooks, eBooks, and physical books. Over the years I've been able to figure out exactly what types of books I enjoy listening to and what I enjoy reading. This knowledge about myself has made getting through more books quantity wise easier, and absorbing the most from each book much more efficient. 
  • I like to Listen to: Celebrity novels (most are read by the celebrity!), Educational books (Sapiens, Outliers, The Four, etc), Business Books (Creativity Inc, The Broken Ladder, Bad Blood, etc), Self Help books (7 Habits of Effective People, 5 Second Rule, Etc) and popular Young Adult novels (Divergent, The Selection, The Lunar Chronicles, etc). These books are either filled with a lot of information, so it feels like sitting in a lecture, or they are conversational, or simply a good fluff storyline (most YA). Most are engaging for me so I'm able to pay attention rather than phasing in and out. Because of the nature of these books, if I do phase out for a bit I don't usually feel the need to rewind back through. 
  • I like to Read: Most everything else. Fiction. Nonfiction. Classics. Bestsellers. Memoirs. Etc. Truly anything with depth is a go to for reading. 
2. Knowing when to quit
    I was never the person to let a book go. I wouldn't even let a series go. If I started a book, I had to finish no matter how much of a drag it was. And if a book was part of a series, I had to get through the entire series no matter how much worse the later books were. Not anymore. Too many books to read, and there's no way I'm going to spend time on a book that I'm not feeling. The way I've been tapering myself off this habit is simply putting the book down and switching to audiobook. Listen to it. And then eventually I tapered myself off that as well. Just abandon it completely. I used the same method for series. Done with the first and loved it but heard the others aren't great? Listen to the next. Eventually get to the point where you can abandon the series too. This paves the way for better quality books. 

3. Friends with similar interests or goals
   So I mentioned in my first blog post how challenging friends is a great way to read more books. Goodreads reading challenge offers this as a good competition with yourself and friends. But you can take this a step further to keep yourself on point! 
  • Diversify: Branch out of your reading niche by stalking what your friends are reading, what are they liking? Try to read a book a friend recommends or rated highly, you never know what you may end up falling in love with. Or who you may end up having similar reading interests with. 
  • Challenge: Have the same reading goal as a friend and keep each other on point. My best friend and I are trying to read more books by South Asian authors, or POV character is South Asian, therefore we keep each other on point by researching books in that category and discussing them after both of us have read. It's a great way to branch out and keep yourself on point. 
  • Discuss: Discussing books is a great way to have a stellar conversation with a friend and understand how much you're absorbing. It's even better if you and the friend disagree or come out with different perspectives. Another friend and I love choosing fantasy novels and discussing parallels to real society vs differences. Hidden social issues and current events. This not only forces me to stay updated but also absorb more than I probably would if I wasn't expected to discuss things later. 
4. Read Harder Challenge 
   Book Riot (popular book media/news platform) comes out with a Read Harder challenge every year. This challenge has 24 categories of books to read. They can be anything like "A book of nonviolent true crime" or "A book of Manga" or "A book of alternative history". One book can obviously fall under multiple categories. They also have a Goodreads group to join online and recommendations of books for each category. This challenge is cool because it forces you outside of your reading niche, it provides a wide variety of new types of reads to grasp, and again, you never know what you're going to love. I frankly even find the categories interesting, as there are so many genres I wouldn't even think existed, or force myself to look into. Very cool concept in general. LINK FOR 2019

5. Bookclubs 
   Bookclubs are a fab way to keep up your reading habits, form them, force yourself outside of your reading niche, or find more reads in your niche. Where to find bookclubs....
  • Form them: Ask a bunch of your friends, create a facebook group, a group message, have them ask their friends. Meet once a month, once every six weeks, once every two months. Whatever works for you. Have a theme to your bookclub or simply pick something multiple people are interested in. This keeps you accountable, and forces you outside your niche. Plus what a great way to hang out with your friends, make new ones, and get to know each other better. 
  • Follow them: There are many bookclubs online via social media you can follow. Many celebrities have bookclubs they run via Instagram, many libraries voice bookclubs, and some simple google searching can find you awesome international bookclubs as well. Here are some I follow via Instagram: TaleawayOur Shared Shelf by Emma WatsonSouth Asian Sisters Speak , Books on Toast . Even following a hashtag will bring great books to your feed, I follow #BrownGirlsBookClub and #BookstagramIndia. I also follow Gates Notes, Bill Gates' Bookclub. 
  • Join them: Another amazing thing about Goodreads, is that you can form public and private bookclubs on there. There are thousands of public bookclubs on Goodreads to join, the platform also offers great ways for discussions to happen and connect. It's a fabulous online community of readers. LINK TO GROUPS PAGE. I am personally part of: Our Shared Shelf, Around the world in 80 books, and Oprah's Bookclub. 
  • Seek Them: Your local Barnes and Nobles has bookclubs. Your Library does too. Your workplace might. Your local bookstore will too. There may be coffee shops your area that host them. If you stop and read a bulletin board, or do a quick google search you're bound to find a lot of bookclubs taking place around you. Go. 
6. Goodreads Lists
   It's clear that Goodreads is really THE app that can take your reading goals to the next level. Goodreads has Listopia section within their site. It's yet another feature I absolutely love! You can search, create, vote, and like lists of books. You can add books to already curated lists. You can find everything from "Best Historical Fiction" to more curated like "Immigrant Experience Literature" and even "Best Chapter books to read out loud" to "Books with horses on the cover". There are hundreds of thousands of lists on Listopia and it's frankly a wonderful way to find new books within our niche or outside of it. It's a wonderful way to discover something new, even search for some of those read harder challenge books! 

7. Booktubes and Podcasts 
   I have many friends that follow many booktubers and/or listen to book podcasts. This is a great way to discover new books, hear opinions on books you may love/dislike or even just get the gist of a book without ever caring to pick it up. There are so many booktubers out there and podcasts, many famous bookclubs like Oprah's have a podcast attached. GatesNotes puts up videos of Bill Gates' interviewing authors of books he reads. Emma Watson does the same. Many BookTubers and podcasts have presence on other social media outlets and vice versa, making it super easy to find what platforms work for you. 

8. Unplug Yourself
   Lastly but not surprisingly, unplug from the devices. Don't just unplug, distance yourself from them. Find places and spaces that are just for reading, and keep the tech away. I stopped bringing my laptop in my room with me and that choice alone means I'm always grabbing my kindle before bed. I have a great hammock like seating on the patio that makes reading outside in the summer evenings a go to space. My friend inhales books over the summer just hanging out by the pool. When you create spaces that are tech free, you're able to focus on the goal. That space becomes your sacred reading space. It's wonderful. 

9. Challenge Yourself
   Gone are the days where my goal was "I want to read # Books", now my goals are more like "I want to read more books by women", "I want to read more books by authors of color" "I want to read more books by/about CATEGORY". Setting this type of goal has really upped the quality of books I've been reading, the impact they have on me, and what I've been getting out my reads. These goals have been helping me evolve not only as a reader, but as a person. Create a categorical goal. 

Happy Reading, 

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