Our habits can make or break us. Reading is an excellent habit and one you should nourish. But how and what we read can impact our experience. Here are five habits that you should start breaking in order to achieve serenity the next time you curl up with a book.
1. Don't fall prey to hypeReading a particular book, just because everyone you know is reading it, can be a waste of your time. If a particular genre isn't to your liking, you are not going to enjoy the book regardless of how popular it has become. This often occurs when a movie version of the book is about to be released and chatter increases about the original format. Select books that appeal to you, and relish the joy of reading something that inspires and encourages your passions and goals.
2. Don't finish a bad bookYep, you read that correctly. It's OK to stop reading at 2, 10, even 20 chapters into a book. You may be one of those readers that pressures themselves to complete the entire book no matter how slow and uninteresting you find the material. It has to get better by the next chapter. I was once that type of reader also, but after starting numerous books that failed to pique my interest, I changed my habit. And guess what? It didn't make me a bad reader. I now have the confidence to read what I enjoy and pass on the books that I didn't finish to someone who might find them compelling.
3. Don't judge a book by its coverWe have all heard this age-old adage, right? I have a confession. I am guilty of buying a book because of the beautiful image on the cover...only to discover that the content did not relate to the artwork and the subject matter did not appeal to me in the least. By reading more electronic books in which I never see the book jacket or cover art, I've realized how persuasive an image can be to our book selection process. Read a summary or review but let your imagination create the images that accompany the words.
4. Don't play pretendHave you ever been at an event, dinner party or gathering when a certain book takes the stage of discussion and you have never heard of it? So you pretend that you loved it and rave about the excellent writing in order to fit in with crowd. Then, someone asks a direct question about a character or passage and the jig is up with your blank stare and instant panic. Acknowledge the topics, genres and writing that you prefer and let your passion for these subjects rise to the surface. Your honesty and confidence will leave an impression far greater than your mimicry.
5. Don't compete with othersThere are countless reading challenges circling the web and social media outlets that can often create competition with readers on the number of books completed within a week, month, or year. These challenges are unrealistic for most readers in that they require excessive amounts of time. Setting a goal to read regularly is a great idea, but getting sucked into a commitment that doesn't work for your schedule will only create stress. And reading should be fun! Writers create stories to be savored and enjoyed. In order to obtain the most out of the reading, you must go at your own pace. This might be drastically slower than those that you connect with about books. Set time aside for reading that is easily incorporated into your day to sit and absorb the words, creating a full experience.
Rebecca L. Morgan is the author of Book Club Savvy: A Resource Guide for Creating an Engaging and Successful Reading Group.