I wrote last year about the struggles I was having with maintaining a ‘reading challenge.’ Book Riot, a favourite blog of mine, loves these. They have had challenges to read harder books, or books by minority authors, or by authors from different countries of the world. And my problem was, I never finished them, and then I would be plagued by guilt which was, frankly, unnecessary. What would happen to me if I said I would read a book, and I didn’t? Nothing. There would be no consequence to my life. So, why sweat it?
An essay at Lifehacker gave me a different perspective. Belle Beth Cooper writes about building ‘life-altering habits’ by making tiny changes. As an example, she mentions increasing her book consumption to five times as much just by reading one page a day. One page! Anyone can do that, right?
The reality for me is that not all the reading I do is for fun. I have to admit that sometimes there are consequences. For instance, I am not teaching French this year. I need to keep up the French reading habit so I can keep my skills fresh. But I still find it really daunting to slog through a whole book.
So, I am going to apply Cooper’s suggestion. As she explains it:
“The point is to focus on repeating the habit every day, but not worrying about how effective that habit is…quantity first, quality later.”
She suggests making the goal so small that you can’t help but succeed. And I am all for that. Want to try it? An e-book is the way to go. Why?
1) It can sync your reading position across devices. So I can read one screen’s worth of French on the bus with my iPhone, then at night, tuck in with my E Ink Kindle and do one more. That will get me two pages a day of painless reading.
2) Baked-in literary assistance. Chris Meadows reported earlier on a company that plans to offer Shakespeare works in a split screen with original text and modern English. I have some Kindle French books which do much the same thing, and present text in alternating French and English paragraphs. If I still get stuck, there is a dictionary, and baked-in web translation features.
3) You can remind yourself. All of my main devices sync easily with my Google calendar. I can schedule reading time, or I can even set pop-up reminders. For example, I could time a pop-up to coincide with when I usually catch my morning bus, to remind me to do my page of French before I check the news feeds and Facebook.
I am going to try and follow Cooper’s advice and not get too ambitious here. One screen a day, that’s my goal. I can do more if I want to, of course. But I get to check this off with only one screen’s worth of effort. I like this plan.
Image credit: Here.