There are many things in life that are a time suck, work, technology, and even sleep. With preoccupations, it can be difficult to get into a routine, let alone manage a hobby. Reading is one of the habits that are best practiced consistently, with that in mind, here are some tips to get you back into the reading world, Middle East edition.
Join a book club/ buddy read
To get back into reading full force, you need a push and sometimes reaching a goal solo is just not enough. Join a book club. Becoming part of a book club will help you be part of a community that envelopes you in a bookish setting where you are constantly inspired to flip that page until the very end. Following the rise of Covid-19, book clubs have also risen through social media platforms. From the comfort of your bed or couch, you can start discussing that meet-cute or murder. However, if you’d prefer an in-person approach, you can check out your local bookstore and the resources they offer.
Moreover, if these options don’t seem like a good fit, you can always buddy read with a friend. Buddy reading is the form of selecting a book with someone you care about and you both venture into the world together, one chapter at a time; deciding where to stop so you can discuss. I have personally buddy-read several books with my friend in the states while I live in Egypt and it has opened many eye-opening conversations regarding the book that I wouldn’t have otherwise had, making me love reading even more.
Set a page/chapter daily goal
A chapter a day keeps the boredom away. While it may seem spontaneous to play your creative goal by ear without a particular record to check off daily, it is worthwhile and productive if you don’t. Setting a certain page count or even a daily chapter will not restrict you as much as it will guide you back into your love for reading. Having a rough goal for your day will ease you back into reading, one page at a time.
Find a book similar to the genre you like to watch
So you’ve decided you want to read more but you’ve been so out of the reading loop that you don’t know where to start. Do you even like the same genres or authors that you used to? To get back into it, locate genres and authors similar to television shows and films you know you currently enjoy. Meaning if your idea of a good time is binge-watching horror films as if Halloween is all year long then you’ll most probably enjoy picking up something horror or thriller-esque. An author that springs to mind in that category is Egyptian writer Ahmed Morad.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with genre
While it is nice to know what genre and authors you like, it is always good to change it up. Getting out of your comfort zone and trying a genre you wouldn’t usually read will have you pushing past the reading slumps and continue on with the reading discovery. An experimental writer like Morrocon-French author, Leila Silmani weaves mystery and atmosphere into unforgettable story.
Don’t be afraid to not finish (DNF)
You have picked a book, you pulled that price sticker off and you’re ready to start reading but a couple of pages in, you have discovered that maybe it is not your jam. Instead of forcing yourself to continue reading until you somewhat like it, just drop this one at least for now and move on to the next story that will grip you long enough to reach the last chapter.
Listen to an audiobook
Though many see that listening to an audiobook isn’t reading but at the end of the day, you are listening to words; a story being narrated to you by a full cast that translates to you a picture as if you have read it. While it might not be the same experience as sitting down and sifting through the pages yourself, putting in your earphones lets you squeeze in some extra time during moments throughout the day that are usually not times when you can read. Ranging from driving to doing chores around the house, these are just a few of the times where you can listen to a story while being productive and make your way through a couple of chapters into the next best autobiography. Tip: when selecting an audiobook, it’s best to venture first into the nonfiction territory as they tend to be narrated by the author. Check out Storytel, a subscription is offered in the Middle East.
Create a Goodreads account and follow booktubers
Why hold yourself accountable when an international community can hold you accountable and keep you motivated? Goodreads is an online platform that caters to readers from all over the world, providing recommendations according to trending books, personal tastes and what your friends are currently reading; it also suggests books that you will enjoy based on your last read. Moreover, while you can get reading suggestions, follow authors and discuss books on Goodreads, booktube, is an avenue of YouTube dedicated to avid readers or people looking to start their love affair.
Some great Booktubers out there worth the follow is Nedal Reads from Egypt. She suggests a variety of novels and non-fiction reads and has recently also started her own online bookclub that you can be a part of through Zoom.
Read in a public place
Now that you have a book down that you’re reading and a community to follow, all that you need is the vibe; the local. Going out to a place, sitting down and reading is just a mood; it gives you that extra push to consistently read. From bookish places to coffeeshops, here are a couple of places to hang out to immerse yourself in the reading experience. Egypt’s Diwan bookstore provides the perfect environment for reading and hanging out to grab a cup of coffee and browse the shelves. Moroever, Dubai’s latest architecture project is The Mohammed Bin Rashid Library set to open its doors this week; a guaranteed haven for Arabs.
What are you waiting for? Start reading already.
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