How to Start a Book... and Finish It (For Beginners)
Do you have trouble finishing a book?
Do you have trouble even starting a book?
Do you have the desire to read, but can't seem to get yourself to do it?
Are you completely bored with what feels like every TV show and would rather spend that time doing something else?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, keep reading.
If you didn't answer "yes" to any of them, keep reading anyway.
When I was a kid/teenager, I absolutely loved reading. I bought the entire collection of Left Behind: the Kids books and read them as they were released - all forty of them. Questionable doctrine aside, I look back and admire my younger self for my dedication to reading.
For the next decade or so, I read maybe 10 books....total. In 2018, I kind kick-started my reading habit again with, ironically enough, the adult version of Left Behind. In a couple months, I finished all twelve books and then promptly lost interest in reading again. Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube once again took over my recreational time.
For 2019 I made a commitment to read twelve books from cover to cover - one per month. So far, January through April, I stayed on goal and finished all four books. However, so far in May, I've already finished two and have started/am currently working on five separate books (more on that later).
But how do you do it? You may think "I don't have time!" I guarantee you have more time than you realize. So without further ado: How to start and finish a book.
Step 1: What do you want to read?
Sometimes what prevents us from reading is that we simply do not know what we want to read. We are told we ought to read or we think about how good it would be read. But read what? Occasionally, someone will mention a book and we'll think "Oh i ought to read that!" and then in a fleeting moment that thought disappears into the ether. There are millions of options out there, but sometimes that is what makes it so hard to choose.
Are you wanting to be swept off into an adventure? Find yourself a good fantasy epic!
Are you in desperate need for a happy ending? A romance novel is calling your name!
Are you struggling with something or maybe just looking for ideas or encouragement? There are tons of nonfiction books covering a wide variety of topics just dying to be read!
For me, I comprised my 2019 reading list entirely out of my friends' recommendations, because I had no idea where else to start!
So, I ask again, what do you want to read?
Step 2: Which method do you prefer - audio book, eBook, or paper book?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. In fact, you can choose one, two or all three of these methods - it's simply what works best for you!
I personally have never had much luck with eBooks. I don't own a Kindle or Nook or anything like that. I've tried reading on my iPhone and hate it. It's too small and has waaayyy too many distractions for me. However, I know plenty of people who prefer reading on their tablet to any other version. My one recommendation to you though is to make sure you have notifications turned off, so as to not disrupt your reading time :)
Lately, I have fallen in love with audio books. Fortunately for me, I married into an Audible account which has changed my life. The other day, I went for a long walk and knew music wasn't going to engage me enough to keep going, so I downloaded a book on Audible and finished it within a few hours (it was a pretty short book). The next day, I finished another book (though this one took literally all day).
Audible unfortunately costs money, so I can't just download a new book every single day for the rest of the year. However!!! I discovered this cool reading app called Libby by OverDrive. You can "borrow" up to three books or audiobooks straight on your phone/tablet from an online library. It's completely free; all you need is a library card (which are also free!)
For me, I find audio books the most convenient. As mentioned, you can "read" while on a walk. You can "read" while making dinner; while driving; while grocery shopping; while doing the laundry; etc. In my opinion, the only potential downsides are:
If you need to take notes, you'll have to pause or rewind.
The narrator may speak slower than you yourself read.
Some books may be interesting/good, but the narrators voice is too annoying or distracting. (I once attempted to listen to an audio book where the author kept saying 'girl' in the middle of sentences as a way to relate to the reader. Reading it myself would probably have been fine, but hearing her say it over and over irritated me. Nobody I know talks like that in real life!!)
But even with all the new fancy technology, sometimes you cannot beat the simple paper book. Maybe its the smell, or the feel of the pages, or simply that you get more out of it by holding it in your hands. There's a reason paper books are still in circulation today: it's because some people simply prefer it!
I personally prefer paper books when I need to study them more intently than normal. Especially for Bible studies or growth groups. I typically get more out of paper books than any other form. In fact, if I finish a really good audio book with a lot of insight, I typically want to order a physical copy to read the next time.
*Sometimes, sadly, the book we want to read is not in the form that we want to read. This is called the ultimate bummer :(*
Step 3: When do you want this finished by?
I know this sounds weird. You're reading this for fun, right? So why do you need an end date? Well, for me, I need some sort of accountability or goal in order to make it a priority. (This may not apply to you, so if it doesn't, go ahead and skip to the next step) If I don't have a date that I want this read by, I will just postpone starting indefinitely. If I tell myself "Okay, Kels, you have until May 31st to get this book read," I have a much higher chance of sitting my butt down and reading it.
This step isn't usually as important or necessary once you get on a roll.
Step 4: What are you taking away from this book?
This doesn't really apply to fiction. So if you are reading fiction that isn't an allegory or metaphor or anything, this step isn't really needed.
If you are reading nonfiction: make sure you write down what you want to remember from this book. Chances are you are going to get some advice or insight out of it. Write them down along the way. If you think you will remember all the good stuff from a book without writing it down, I guarantee you will not. You took the time to absorb the information; might as well store it somewhere other than your short term memory! I use the notes app in my phone.
If you end up reading this book again, you can compare notes and see what stood out to you each time. You'll usually get different things out of it when you're in a separate life stage.
If your book has no insights for you - get rid of it!
Step 5: What will be your reward at the end?
If reading a book from cover to cover is not something you've ever really succeeded at, maybe you should give yourself some extra incentive. Maybe that item on Amazon you've had in your cart for ages. Maybe that waffle iron you think will change your life. Maybe just a pedicure. Whatever it is, make it your treat once you finish your book. That may sound dumb to you, but it totally works!
I just looked up some statistics for you:
The average number of books an American reads over the course of a year is 12…but that number is inflated by the most avid readers. The most frequently reported number was 4 books per year. The average American doesn't even reach 200 books in a lifetime.
4 books x 50 years = 200 books
Simply reading one book every three months for the next fifty years will make you more successful than the average American. Now you definitely deserve that treat!
Step 6: Just start.
Just take that leap and open the first page. Once you get going, you won't want to put it down!
*indicates audio books
Books I've Read So Far This Year
*Million Dollar Habits: 10 Simple Steps to Getting Everything You Want in Life by Robert Ringer
Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliott
It's Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst
Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges
*The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
*Make It Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live on Purpose by Lara Casey
Books I'm Currently Reading
The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitist, and Pseudo-experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom by David Kupelian
Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn't Give You What You Want by Ann Swindell
*Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
*Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
Random Obsessions: Trivia You Can't Live Without by Nick Belardes
Upcoming Books to Read
Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Loney by Lysa TerKeurst
Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia Axline
None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (and Why That's a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin
Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith by Bill Hybels
A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
To Be or Not to Be Intimidated?: That is the Question by Robert Ringer
So why am I reading five books at once?
Well the short answer is that I want to.... and that I may be a bit insane.
The long answer is that there are different times I read each one.
After I finished Respectable Sins, I started on the Marketing of Evil. While it is a very good book, it kind of depresses me. I think it's an important book and what it has to say will definitely help me deal with society better. But only in small chunks, because it's overwhelmingly sad and twisted to me (the actual marketing of evil - not the book). So, to balance that out, I started Still Waiting which is quite the opposite: a book of encouragement. Yay! So my plan was to alternate between the two books as needed.
Well, all that happened before my audio book obsession took over. Once I finished the Screwtape Letters, I really wanted to listen to another audio book. And once Make It Happen finished, another! Which lead me to Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (and my mom who suggested it).
In the meantime, I discovered Libby and wanted to start utilizing it. Which meant that I needed to go to my local library to get a library card. Since I was already there, I decided to look around and discovered some trivia books - because I'm obsessed with trivia. With all this book reading, Jeopardy watching (BTW I was also watching a ton of that to absorb even more information), and just general trivia consumption, I thought my brain was going to explode. So I started the Darth Plagueis audio book because I secretly really enjoy Star Wars lore and needed something more relaxing to help with the brain explosion.
Anyway sorry for not being at all brief, but that's how to start and finish a book for beginners! Hope you all learned something (even if it was just my interest in Star Wars lore).
Thanks for reading and as always:
Have Fun. Be Safe. Make Good Choices.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11