Reading in Quality, Not Quantity

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January is full of lists. “Best of” and “worst of” and “most important of” the year that just passed, followed by jumbo lists of all the things we should do in the year to come. Here on Goodreads, we can see how many books we read in 2013, and challenge ourselves to read even more in 2014.

The emphasis always seems to be on quantity, not quality.

How can we encourage ourselves to get more pleasure from reading this year? In keeping with the spirit of the season, I offer you this list.

Read with friends—My book group brings great joy to my life. Yes, we gossip and drink wine and eat cookies, but we also have serious, thought-provoking discussions of the books we read. And Chris always spots metaphors that sailed right over the head of miss smartypants English major/author here. So join a book group, start a book group, or just talk to a friend about what you’re both reading. It will enrich your reading experience.

Recommend books—The best way to find someone to discuss books with is to recommend to your friends books that you loved or that you found perplexing. Face-to-face, or online, don’t be shy—your friends will appreciate it.

Write reviews—Try to answer two questions as specifically as you can: What did I really enjoy about this book? What didn’t work for me? What specifically made it boring? Too much description? Repetitiveness? Why specifically did you love a character? Was she relatable, complex, funny? Putting your gut reaction into words can help you appreciate books in a deeper way.

Read outside your comfort zone, but quit if you really hate it—The only way to be brave enough to try a book you wouldn’t normally read is to give yourself permission to quit if you really hate it. Fifty pages—if a book can’t win you over by then, just put it down. Life’s too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

Read aloud—Reading aloud helps you appreciate a book’s word choice and rhythm. Short stories, like these in my new anthology[book:Dead Drift|19396444] are particularly good candidates for reading aloud. If you don’t have access to kids, consider reading aloud to an elderly person or a sick friend—you’ll both benefit.

I wish you happy reading in 2014, no matter how many books you read.

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