Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Learn to Be a Better Reader

There is a certain feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing a book, or a short story, or even an article in a magazine. It was a feeling that I didn't feel for quite some time while I was in college with a goal of skim reading every article assigned and spending free time working and socialising. Between 2009 and late 2011, I hadn't completed a single book, but very recently I have become an avid reader and it's a rarity to not find my face in some novel or newspaper. I think there comes a time in most young academics' lives when you haven't picked up a book in years. Or, if you have, you haven't finished one in quite some time.

I've recently taken it upon myself to promote reading and literature. Modern pop culture's focus has turned to Jersey Shore and Keeping up with the Kardashians as a means of entertainment and mental stimulation. Violent video games fill the attention spans of young adults instead of the pages of books. Cable television and smart phones are making people progressively stupider. Don't fall into the trend; Get your hand off the remote and get your head into a good book.
1. Don't view it as homework.
A huge setback is thinking of reading as a chore. Think of reading as going on an adventure even when the weather is crummy or you're stuck on the bus. When you're reading an article for school, you can view it as gaining a new perspective or learning about a situation that you wouldn't otherwise be familiarised with. Changing your viewpoint on reading is the first step; view it as something exciting instead of a time consuming task.
2. Find time to read.
Unless if you're working 3 jobs, going to school full time, and raising a kid, you probably have a bit of downtime when you can crack open a book or a newspaper. My personal favourite time of day to read is while at the bus stop or on the train. Read instead of flipping through your hundreds of cable channels. Read while you're sitting around on a Saturday night waiting for a boy to call. Read while on break at work or when your girlfriend is shoe shopping. Read instead of Facebook stalking people you hardly know or clicking through endless amounts of fashion blogs written by 19-year-old girls.

3. Find your genre.
There. Now that we've cleared away some time for you to read, now to decide what to read. Head over to the library or, if you don't like reading books numerous other people have paged through or ate over, go to the bookstore. If you like poetry, head to the poetry section and start digging. If you like essays, choose a topic you're passionate about and find a book on it. If you like biographies, choose one about a person you're particularly fascinated or inspired by. A certain era in time may send you to the non-fiction category, or a childhood favourite might send you back for those Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys mysteries. Always remember, it's okay to start small. Don't jump for Faulker or Gogol if it doesn't interest you or if it'll be way over your head. This will only discourage you rather than delight you.

4. Talk about literature.
It helps to talk about what you read with other people. Form a bookclub if you like, or even just ask a friend about what they've been reading lately. Having debates over literature with other people will fuel your interest in the topic and lead you to want to read more, or read again. A friend who recently read The Great Gatsby inspired me to re-read it in order to have a more definite opinion on Daisy's character. A man who recently told me that rape certainly is not "normal" and the best way to deal with it was to take a gun to a rapist's head, gave me motivation to finish Transforming a Rape Culture so I can back up my own opinion on the normalcy of rape in our culture. Discussion with others creates motivation for reading.

5. Make recommendations, take recommendations.
Talking about literature will often open up the opportunity to make recommendations as well as recieve them. Making a recommendation will often lead to further discussion about the book or possibly inspire another person to be active about your cause. Accepting a recommendation may deepen your interest in the subject matter or lead you to discover a new title, genre, or author that you may have overlooked.
6. Take delight in literature.
Learning to love these new characters, new worlds, and new perspectives will lead you to take delight in literature and appreciate it as a form of entertainment or knowledge.
As part of transforming Urban Tease from a mindless fashion blog and more into a lifestyle blog to stimulate the creative mind, I will now feature weekly book reviews. Feel free to offer up recommendations to me and I hope that some of my future suggestions might inspire you to crack open a new book!


Julia Topaz said...

This is a good post.
I have so much reading to do for work/school that reading for pleasure always makes me feel guilty, so reading always feels like a chore. This has inspired me!

Meli said...

Yay, this will be fun! I've been slowly doing the same thing on my blog, just little snippets here and there of what I've been reading. It's so easy to get caught up in life and not pick up books. I do have to say that one doesn't need to stick to one genre or another; READ ALLL THE THINGS!! Thanks for the post, though; this is a good reminder!

Brianna said...

Chloe! Great posts this summer. Been inspired by your more vintage-y looks, unfortunately i am dirt poor. However, I have been repurposing older clothes to make them look retro.
Got a 20's bob flapper hairstyle which complements curly hair (just sayin, you could pull it off :) )

Minnesotans Unite!


Priya said...

Chloe, I love this post, thank you! When I was younger we never had cable, my older sister always read a lot, and I spent my entire summers in the air-conditioned library, so I read voracious amounts (Babysitter's Club, etc.). Nowadays I still try and read as much as I can (not as much as I would like) but the thrill of getting lost in a book is still the same and I love that. For me, it's the easiest way to feel really content. I still don't watch a lot of t.v., and when I'm in the middle of a book that's really the thing I want to do for fun. Were you asking for recommendations here? I'm currently reading The Girl Who Played With Fire, I just started it so I can't completely vouch for it yet but I do know if you haven't read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo you MUST. I can't say it's "good" because it's dark and pretty graphic, but you will not be able to put it down. I read it in two days! Sorry for this absurdly long comment this post just really struck a chord with me and I totally agree! You're spot on!

Also not to get all blog-promoty but I recently did a book-y post: http://perfectlypriya.blogspot.com/2012/04/bookwormin.html
Would love some of your recommendations as well!

Also I love what you've done with the place, your blog is fan-CY. I wish I knew how to do anything cool with mine, ha.

Charlotte. said...

I love all of these points! I definitely need to start reading more for fun too.

Polina said...

This month I have read The Help, 50 shades of grey (book 1), and the hunger games trilogy. Good trilogy that one, but my favorite would be the help!

Jamie Rose said...

Woo! I loved this post and I'm glad you'll be doing weekly book reviews. That's awesome! I quite enjoy reading and I really love having extra free time in the summer to read things I actually want to read. It's difficult during the school semesters because there's so much crap to read for classes. I make lists of books I want to read on my time off!

ARIO ACHDA said...

it is a rare thing to see a fashion blogger post such thing and encourage people to start reading. hahaha

great post! hope more people start to read after this post *even probably some people cant even finish this post to read. i was having a hard time too actually LOL"

have a great July!