How I Revitalized my Reading Life Through Structure and Rules

My reading life was a little stale at the beginning of last fall. I’d sit down to read, and even if it was a book I was dying to dig into, I’d shut it after mere minutes. I was unfocused, unable to keep my eyes on the page, unsure where to fit reading into my busy life.

And this was a problem, because I was just starting to have publishers send me ARCs of upcoming releases for review, and I felt it would be unconscionably rude to accept the books and never actually read them.

So I did what I always do in these situations. I called upon my most instinctive course of action: I made a plan. Set up some rules. Came up with a routine.

I realized there were three main categories of books I wanted to read: ARCs, or “advance review/reading copies” of books yet to be published; already-published novels; and non-fiction of some sort. I decided I would read three books at a time, that I would read for 30 minutes each reading time, and that I would alternate each 30-minute reading period with getting writing work done. After a few months, I added a fourth category: a re-read of a prior favorite.

Figure out what works best, fit it into your life, and enjoy the time you spend reading.

Okay, that was a lot of detail-talk, but basically: I decided that what my reading life needed was more structure, more rules, and less of a laissez-faire, I’ll-read-when-I-feel-like-it attitude. Partly, this is because it reached the point where reading was (finally!) something I could do for work, not just fun. But also it’s because I’d learned enough about myself by that point to know that I function best with structure and rules, a routine that I can stick to every day.

It’s how I got through grad school: wake up at the same time every morning, make coffee the same way, read the newspaper, go on with the rest of my day.

If I missed out on my morning routine, my whole day was shot. I function best when I’m doing things a certain way, in a certain order.

So it made sense that when it came to my reading life, I would do better with a plan. Since last fall, I’ve begun flying through books, I’ve expanded my reading by delving into more than just already-published young adult novels, and I’ve rediscovered a joy of reading.

And I know my system may not work for you; not everyone does best within a rigid structure. I know people who would absolutely shrivel up under a stringent routine. You mean I have to read for so many minutes, so many times a day? No!! But if you know yourself, and you know how you tend to work best, there are other ways to revitalize your reading life.

What you should do is figure out what works best, fit it into your life, and enjoy the time you spend reading.

Karis Rogerson

Column by Karis Rogerson

Karis Rogerson is a mid-20s aspiring author who lives in Brooklyn and works at a cafe—so totally that person they warn you about when you declare your English major. In addition to embracing the cliched nature of her life, she spends her days reading, binge-watching cop shows (Olivia Benson is her favorite character) and fangirling about all things literary, New York and selfie-related. You can find her other writing on her website and maybe someday you’ll be able to buy her novels.

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