I’m kicking off the school year with Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. It’s a novel I’ve been meaning to read for ages, I’ve heard lovely things about it and I’m super excited to get into it. Hooray! Only problem is, I’m yet to crack the 100 page mark. And this book is over 800 pages long. So I’m not going so well there.
Considering I spend so much time hassling people about reading, I feel like I should share a few tricks that I’ll be out trying out myself.
CRACKING A TRICKY BOOK: The not-so-secret secrets
1. Take it wherever you go
If you’re of the female persuasion, fashion says it’s okay to carry an enormous Mary Poppins style bag. Such a bag will usually accommodate a book as well as your wallet, your phone, your lunch, your small dog and your kitchen sink. If you’re male, or simply unaccustomed to lugging a ridiculous tote around, you could make do e-Books or PDFs on your tablet or smart phone. I find the morning commute is always a good opportunity to snatch a few pages. Business people are usually quiet (or asleep) and the traffic delay gives you a substantial chunk of time to work with.
2. Keep the book by your bed
Obvious, but still valuable. Although, I’ll admit trick is possibly not the most effective one (coming from the girl keeps her contracts text book by her bed – doesn’t help get the reading done, but it’s an excellent tool for overcoming sudden bouts of insomnia). Reading before bed is a really nice habit to get into – it’s relaxing and it keeps you away from your phone and the internet. If you let your brain slow down, you sleep better. Unless, of course, you’re reading a book that you just can’t put down. In that case, you don’t need this post anyway!
3. Have a bath
My personal favourite. I rediscovered baths when I was doing my final year of high school and was generally in a permanent state of exam-related distress. Baths are wonderful, they make you feel all calm and warm and sleepy. They’re also a great opportunity to get stuck into a book because there’s really nothing else you can do in the tub (except maybe shave your legs). Just try not to drop the book in the water, okay? My copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is sadly wrinkled after one unfortunate incident.
4. Start over
If you’ve been reading the same thing for the last six months, there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten everything and everyone that’s important. If all else fails, try going back to the beginning and see if you can get through more quickly.
DON’T . . .
1. Watch the film adaptation before you finish the book. If you already know what happens, it’s going to be much more difficult to finish.
2. Skim read or skip to the end. You’ll miss crucial plot points and ruin it for yourself. Someone once told me they like to read the end of a book first. I found that bizzare and slightly offensive to my religion.
3. Have a tantrum. Sometimes you just want to tell the author that they’re being stupid. But try not to throw, tear, squash or otherwise defile the book. Don’t write witty comments in the margins. Be nice.
Now if worst comes to the worst, if you’ve optimistically attempted . . . I don’t know Ulysses, it might be time to admit defeat. Find a fluffy book that you can read in a semi-conscious stupor on the bus at 6:30 in the morning. Ease yourself back into the game.