Kick-Start Your Reading Habit With Bite-Sized Books
Thursday 04/April/2019 - 08:42 AM
If you don’t feel like you have the time to read more، or struggle to finish a book، this method will help. If you have time for Twitter or Instagram، you have time for these books، The New York Times reported.
Everyone wants to read more، and over the last few months I’ve finally figured out how to fit more reading into a busy schedule. It’s surprisingly simple: Instead of trawling through Twitter or hitting up Instagram whenever I’ve had a few minutes to spare waiting for a train، I’ve been opening the Kindle app and sticking my nose in a book. Here’s the catch though: What got me started are what I call “bite-sized books”: books made up of loads of small chunks that are easy to dip in and out of، whether you have two minutes free standing in line or an hour to kill on a short-haul flight.
Why bite-sized books work so well “Reading more” is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions — and a general be-a-better-human pledge but، like most resolutions، most people fail.
In last year’s Goodreads Reading Challenge، more than 4.2 million people pledged to read a combined 260 million books — that’s an average of 61 books per person. Of the participants، only 16% — roughly 700،000 of them — finished their challenge. The rest flunked it.
I suspect a big part of the problem is that books feel like a huge commitment. It’s much harder to motivate yourself to crack open a weighty tome crammed with characters and subplots than to just scroll through Twitter’s ephemera. You’re tired، you only have a few moments and the book probably isn’t as good as everyone says anyway. Instagram is addictive for a reason: it’s there، it’s easy and it hits your dopamine receptors harder than a Dan Brown novel.
Not all books، however، are big commitments. That’s why bite-sized books are a great way to kick-start your reading. One great example of a bite-sized book is Tim Ferriss’ “Tribe of Mentors.” In the book، Mr. Ferriss interviews over 130 of the “world’s top performers،” from people like Arianna Huffington، founder of The Huffington Post، to Strauss Zelnick، chief executive of video game publisher Take-Two Interactive. The hook is that he asks every interviewee the same set of ten questions. Each interview is only a few pages long so they take minutes to read.
Over my first few days of reading “Tribe of Mentors،” I found that instead of opening Twitter، Instagram or Facebook when I had time to waste، I opened the Kindle app on my iPhone instead and read an interview. If I just had two minutes، I might only get through three or four questions، but because each one was a complete answer، it didn’t feel like I was constantly being pulled away from some important bit of action.
For the first time in a long time، reading a book on my phone was just as convenient — and far more interesting — than social media.
What makes a good bite-sized book? Not all books work when they’re read in small snippets. “A Game of Thrones” just won’t make a lot of sense if you dip in and out too much — not that it makes a huge amount of sense without a reference encyclopedia anyway.
Certain genres of books، on the other hand، work really well. I’ve found essay collections، travel guides and short stories to be the best for me.
Collections of essays or، even better، columns are a great place to start. Essays tend to be short and totally independent of each other — at most they’re linked by a common theme. While there are often one or two essays in a collection that take an hour or so to read، you can save it for when you’ve got a little more time to kill and just chip away at the shorter ones when you’re at the bus stop.
If you already have a favorite columnist، see if they’ve published a collection — many prolific ones do. Otherwise، I can wholeheartedly recommend Tim Kreider’s two collections، “We Learn Nothing” and “I Wrote This Book Because I Love You;” “Consider the Lobster and Other Essays” by David Foster Wallace; “How Did You Get This Number” by Sloane Crosley; “Arguably” by Christopher Hitchens; and “A Slip of the Keyboard” by Terry Pratchett (and dozens more if you reach out to me on Twitter!)
Good travel guides are also perfect bite-sized books. I’m a big fan of Lonely Planet’s trip guides like “Epic Drives of the World،” “Epic Hikes of the World” and “Epic Bike Rides of the World.” Each one is packed with awesome adventure ideas — a perfect distraction on your morning commute. Or، if you already have a vacation planned، grab a good guidebook for your destination and work your way through it. Not only will you be reading more، but your trip will be even better thanks to all the preparation.
If your tastes skew more toward fiction، consider short stories. While there aren’t many modern writers who do more than dabble with the form، lots of the greats of the last century wrote a ridiculous number. For example، Ernest Hemingway wrote about 60 while Arthur C. Clarke published more than 100. “The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway” and “The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke” collect most of each author’s work in one affordable — if hard to carry — book.
Even some thrillers can work. There are writers like Dan Brown — “The Da Vinci Code” — and Matthew Reilly — “Ice Station” — who seem incapable of writing more than a thousand words in one go without needing to break it into a new chapter. It gives their books serious pace، but it also means that you get a natural stopping point every few minutes — if you can bear to tear yourself away.
How to make bite-sized books work for you Really، bite-sized books are what you make of them. I started out with a collection of interviews، gradually moved on to essays and short stories and finally، once I was in the habit of reading any time I had a few minutes to spare، straight-up fiction. Since I use the Kindle app on my phone، I don’t even have to think about carrying a book with me.
You، however، should do whatever you think will work well for you. Pick a book you reckon you’ll be able to read in a few snatched moments every day، grab a cheap paperback or a copy of the ebook and get stuck in. Before you know it، you’ll have a few titles under your belt، and you’ll have conquered that “read more” challenge you set for yourself at the beginning of the year.