Eight Steps To Achieve Your Reading Goals

Reading habits vary from person to person. Someone likes to read before going to bed while someone prefers reading the first thing in the morning. Someone reads fast, someone reads slowly taking his own sweet time. Someone prefers to listen to a novel being read aloud to him, rather than reading it himself. There are various reading challenges all over the internet- the Goodreads, Epicreads- varying on the basis of the number of books you are committing to read in a year, or the genre of books, or even color coded challenges based on the book covers. Read 101 Classics challenge, LGBT books, Banned Books, Poetry Books, translated books, etc. Weird ones, challenging and interesting ones. Here are a few steps on how you can achieve your reading goals if you tend to lag behind.

1.       Choose a time-slot
You need to be dedicated to reading every day. Choosing a particular time of the day to read can help a lot. It can be while traveling to or from your work or institute, in the morning hours, during lunch hours, tea breaks, evening strolls, park visits, or late night before going to bed. Since I am essentially a morning person, I love to start my day with reading. Leverage weekends, rainy days, and off days.

2.       Set Daily Reading Goals
It can be 50 pages a day or minimum 5 pages a day, but make sure to set a daily reading goal and stick to it. Having a good bookmark handy works wonders. I am a bookmarks frenzy person, I use anything and everything pretty looking as a bookmark, be it strips of craft paper, clothes tag, a thin bracelet, a crochet, anything woolen,  newspaper cutouts, photographs, etc. I commit to reading at least 5 pages a day, the more the merrier.

3.       Listen to audio books
Sometimes it does happen that we are neck deep in official works and other routines, then we don’t have energy left to hold a book. That is the time having an audio book handy in your smartphone and a good quality earphone helps. You can immerse yourself in the world of stories without having to strain your eyes, just make sure that you like the reader’s narration. These days classic audio books are easily available on Youtube, apps and other public libraries- Librivox, etc. If you are into short stories, 60 dB- Season of Stories- is a very good option. It has episode wise narratives, offered in chunks for the busy readers. I have listened to ‘Eat, Pray and Love’, ‘My Cousin Rachael’ and a few short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri and Haruki Murakami in recent times.

4.       Choose your genres and titles and mode of reading well
If you are a regular reader, you must be aware of your own tastes and preferences. Consider a book after going through ratings, reviews, author details, and author interviews. While experimenting is great, try to make sure it’s worth your time and money. You can borrow books from a local library or a friend, if you are not sure whether you’d like it, instead of buying and hoarding books- piling up your cupboard without actually reading it. Goodreads, Amazon etc offer recommendations for you to check out related works, those are worth a browse through. Modes of reading can be paperback, Kindle, ebooks, or even a weekly email subscription.

5.       Have your own reading tribe
A reading group helps keep your interest in and around books. It can be online or offline, but have a habit of connecting with your tribe, and share your recent reading experiences while they share theirs. I personally love discussing books, online and offline, so a group who pays attention to my rants, and provides meaningful recommendations hugely helps. A community keeps you updated on the recent book release, book signings, and other book buzz. There are too many good books out there and too little time, so your tribe helps you come across your kind of books. It is through such an online FB group that I discovered my love for memoirs and travelogues, from reading just romantic YA novels, thrillers, mysteries, and mythologies. Subscribe the right sites, blogs, pages and sign up to join the active groups.

6.       Review the book you read
I sincerely consider it the fundamental duty of a reader to review the book he/she reads unless it is deemed as not worthy of her time or way beyond his expression through words. I make sure to review almost every book I read, however short and long. ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert took three posts on my blog- it was the longest review ever. I just had to include those feelings, descriptions, and quotes- I couldn’t do without it. Haruki Murakami’s novels make way for a minimum 800-word review, while some others, I just could not review. It overwhelmed me to even put to paper the feelings that bubbled inside me while I read those books- it was way beyond me to review these masterpieces. One of them I remember is ‘River God’ by Wilbur Smith and another ‘The Palace Of Illusions’ by Chitra D. Banerjee.

I continuously review a book, while reading it, every day a few points or lines that made me think, chapter by chapter, as I know I won’t remember the intricate details when I reach the end. My personal journal would contain quotes, symbolisms, metaphors, and other trivia from the novel I am reading. And if I fall in love with the book, it’s characters, narration, and plot- I stalk the author online to know about his/her next writing in progress. And as you know authors love being stalked. (Laughs!!)

7.       Choose your reading challenges well
There are various annual reading challenges that are provided by sites, book clubs, libraries, etc. Choose it well, considering the time you can devout, the expenses it might require, the reading tastes, and intellectual/emotional worth.

8.       Finally, Not all books are meant to be swallowed
And that’s ok. If you feel the book that you are almost halfway through is not meant for you, it doesn’t match your expectation at all, doesn’t satisfy your reading thirst’s and obsessions- allow yourself to stop reading that book. Let it go. Make time for some other better book instead. And, others opinion do not matter as much as your own. I left reading ‘The Wuthering Heights’ halfway through. While the narrative was spellbinding, phenomenal, I hated the lead characters and the darkness involved was messing my mood. I don’t regret my decision.

Reading can be a wholesome experience if you engage completely in it. It can be life changing, deeply satisfying, and healing. Reading can be a therapy if you allow it to be so.

Express gratitude on reading a good book. Review it honestly on your blog or share your views on it in the social media. Recommend it to friends and other book readers in your community. Spread the word. The author deserves it and you are the mediator, facilitator of a great work, the person that connects the book with many more readers. Feel good about it. Take pride in it. You are an essential part of the network of readers, the worldly connect. And if you are more than a little obsessed, just like me, engage in book Instagram, create book quotes, book arts, fan pages dedicated to the characters, write fan fictions, there’s so much more to this!!

Do let me know if you’d like me to add any more points to the above piece. I would be grateful for any number of inputs.

Happy Reading!!


Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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