May 29, 2024

COLUMN: How to get started

When people find out I love reading, one of the most common things I hear is, “I wish I could get into reading.”

There are a number of reasons why a person who wants to read doesn’t. They don’t have the time, don’t know what to read or don’t find books engaging.

One of my favorite things to do is pick out a book or series for a person based on their interests and reading level. It’s almost like setting someone up on a date.

Obviously the best is when the book is a hit. Last year for her birthday, I gifted my friend Addie the book “A House of Salt and Sorrows” by Erin A. Craig. It’s a dark and mysterious fantasy about sisters living together in a mansion where one by one, they die in questionable ways.

Though she didn’t have time to pick it up until this year, she was enamored with the story. It’s the perfect balance of fantasy without intense world building and mystery without horror.

I joke that friends can “check out” books from my library anytime. I’d been pondering over a recommendation for my friend Anna for several weeks. I knew she liked popular young adult dystopian like “The Hunger Games.”

I finally decided on “The Selection” by Kiera Cass, one of my all time favorite authors. The series is described as a cross between “The Hunger Games” and “The Bachelor.” Written in true young adult dystopian style, the main character lives in a world that has implemented a caste system. Each resident is in a caste from one to eight, one being royals and eight being regarded as barely human.

In order to earn a stipend for her family, the main character enters the selection, a chance to win the heart of the prince. Though she initially wants no relationship with the prince, they form a friendship. Turmoil ensues as she learns of the fragility of her nation.

When Anna left with the five books in tow, she told me I’d get them back in about five years when she finished reading them all. She read the first book in less than 24 hours.

If a book isn’t gripping you, don’t read it. You’re not required to read anything. It’s a lesson I’ve been forcing myself to learn.

Colleen Hoover has recently made huge waves in the book world. A big reason for this is the ease of her stories. They’re extremely reader-friendly.

Her books are written about everyday life and things we all understand. They don’t require a lot of focus or imagination from the reader, and it’s why so many people have been able to use her novels to get into reading.

Her most popular is “It Ends With Us,” but I recommend “Ugly Love” and “November 9,” in that order as your first dip into her world. Books don’t have to be like the ones you read in school. Not all books are written like “Moby Dick” or “The Scarlett Letter.”

As far as time goes, everyone’s situation is different. For me, cutting out TV has been one of the biggest timesavers. I typically have two to three books going at a time, but always in different formats.

For example, right now I’m listening to “Seasparrow” by Kristin Cashore on Audible. I listen to it while I get ready for work in the morning, while I drive and while I cook or clean the house. Last month I listened to three books this way and I’ve already finished one this month.

I also always have a book downloaded on my phone and iPad. In waiting rooms, car rides (I know not everyone can do that) or anywhere I find myself having to wait, instead of mindlessly scrolling on Facebook, I pull out my phone and read.

Lastly is just to make it a priority. It isn’t difficult when what you’re reading is captivating. According to a 2016 study excluding extreme outliers, the average American reads four books a year.

Reading one book every eight weeks puts you above average at six books a year. The typical book is between 200 to 400 pages. In order to read six 400-page books per year, you would need to read seven pages a day. Seven!

Though I use Kindle Unlimited and Audible, both apps I pay for, the Gibson Memorial Library has tons of free options and Libby, an app which allows you to listen and read for free.

If you’re not sure where to start, reach out. I’d love to set you up with a good book.