Look what I found, through a friend, on Pinterest! I haven’t tried it yet (a little scared) but I reaaallly want to. They used to have a class for this at an adorable scrapbooking store near my old house, but the store closed down before I had a chance to take the class. The friend who pinned this tutorial is also my crafting/DIY buddy, so I’m going to try to see if she’ll try this with me so we have each other for any frustrating moments.
We’ve all had it happen before — finding ourselves in the dreaded reading slump. Nothing can tempt us. Nothing can lure us back to the printed page. When we open a book, our minds start to wander, or our eyes start to close. To be honest, there is no sure-shot cure… but I have some suggestions (remedies, if you will). See if they help next time you find yourself in this place of (oh-the-horror) being unable to read. (If I’ve missed something that works for you, let us all know about it in the comments section!) Best of luck!
- Favorite Genre. Try choosing something from your favorite genre to beat the reading doldrums. This is not the time to pick up your copy of War and Peace (unless War and Peace is your bag). Which genre has you stuck like glue to most of the books you read in it (which is your guilty pleasure)? That’s the genre you want to go to right now. Note: this does not mean you have to pick something “light” or “easy”. Some people’s “guilty pleasure” is Mystery while others is US History. You know yourself — go for what you loooooooove.
- Make it short. The point is to get reading again, so don’t set yourself up for failure. Try to pick a book that is at least 300 pages or less (if not shorter). Honestly, sometimes it just takes one or two finished books to get you back into the groove.
- Check recommendations. Have you some books that have been recommended to you by people who have similar reading tastes? This is the time to pick them up. No recommendations? Go to your favorite book blog and search the categories or tags for your favorite genre and start looking into the book descriptions on your favorite book reference site (i.e. B&N, GoodReads, etc.).
- Don’t read reviews. Wait, did I just contradict myself? Nope. I said look at recommendations and descriptions (the ones offered by the publisher). Do not read reviews… whether you believe it or not, they bias your view of a book. It is impossible to have a review not effect you in one way or the other (both good and bad) once you have read it. I won’t philosophize over this except to say — if the description of a book appeals to you, and meets the criteria above, go for it. Don’t let a review get your hopes up or discourage you from a title. Just get reading. (Please note that I am not discouraging you from reading reviews ever, just not when you are trying to pick a book to get you out of a nasty reading slump).
- Make time. It’s true – sometimes you’d rather just plop in front of the Internet or TV than try to get into a book… especially when there’s not a title you’re looking forward to. And we all know that there is plenty on TV and the Internet to keep us hooked for hours at a time. So, after you’ve completed steps 1-4, mark some time on your calendar to grab your favorite beverage, cuddle up in your favorite place, and see if you aren’t swept up in the book you’ve chosen. I’d say give yourself a good hour of reading time to see if you can’t make a dent and get the reading bug back, but if you’re crunched for time — 30 minutes should do. Anything less and it will be hard to really give your mind a chance to engage with the story.
Is the goal to have as many books as possible on your “read” list? No, not for most people (though book bloggers might be a little geeky with this, I admit. Many of us do tend to set reading amount goals). Why read more than one book at a time, then, if numbers aren’t your goal? I have a few thoughts on why reading more than one book at a time is advantageous (but only if you can deal with more than one plot and series of characters; it’s really not as hard as you might think it is).
- Reading more than one book allows you to explore all the more genres and authors at once.
- There are so many incredible stories out there, it’s hard to get to them all if reading just one at a time.
- While you might get stuck on one book and need a break from it, you still have other titles going to keep you reading (instead of taking a break until you’re ready to pick up the slower title again).
- There are titles you really want to read, but you have committed to a different title for a book club, etc.
- You don’t like listening to music or talk radio in the car, but you (obviously) can’t read a story in book form while driving.
- Invest in an e-reader if you can. This makes reading multiple books at one time a breeze as they are all on the e-reader, which can fit into your purse/luggage much easier than 5-10 (0r more) books. You can also get magazines and newspapers on e-readers.
- Utilize audiobooks, whether on an MP3 player or CDs, audiobooks can keep you company while driving, cleaning, and working out. I’ve even used them while working on craft projects (i.e. knitting, etc.). It can be easier than having the TV on, because I need to watch my hands more often if I’m working on a project.
- Good, old fashioned books… I often have a daytime read and a nighttime read (as well as a review book, read-a-long book, and book club book). If I’m reading a book that is incredibly engaging, scary, or a big thought provoker, I will usually have a different one to read at night so that my brain doesn’t get worked up right before I’m trying to fall asleep.
We know we are supposed to eat a well balanced diet of food for the health of our bodies, but what about reading a well balanced diet of books for the health of our brains? Read on to find out my recommendations for a well balanced (reading) diet…
Books are good for the brain. Believe it or not, reading anything will create new wrinkles in your brain because you are being presented with new information and your brain is having to work (by reading the words, connecting the meaning in your brain, and remembering plots, characters, places, etc.) to obtain that information. Frankly, a workout’s a workout for the average Jane; whether I run, swim, do yoga, or surf; as long as I’m moving my body enough to stay in shape – I’m reaching reaching my goal. Same with books for the average reader.
Reading for entertainment and for knowledge are equally important. We all know that life can’t be all work or all play. Same thing with books. If all you read are entertaining books, you are selling yourself short by not experiencing all of the amazing things that can be learned in book form. Books are capable of expounding on ideas in ways that news programs and movies aren’t able to. On the contrary, if you poo-poo people who read entertaining books because you think reading is only for learning, I’m afraid you have missed the amazing pleasures that books can bring. Escaping into different lands and lives is one of the most magical parts of reading. Not doing so would be like staying at home all the time and never going on a fun/ relaxing vacation. Can reading be entertaining and knowledge gaining at the same time? In my opinion, it most often is!
Reading (auto)biographies and memoirs can be therapeutic. Getting an honest glimpse into another person’s life can often help you understand yourself better. Seeing how they react to certain situations might help you to see how you react to similar circumstances because you will (most likely) be evaluating what you read, which in turn often helps you to evaluate how you react to what you are reading. It can be helpful to see that other people react to situations in the same way you do, and what’s even more helpful is when they react in a way you would like to react. Having these examples can be useful for your own growth (as well as entertaining!)
Self-Help can help you. Before you skip to the next idea, just take a moment to browse the self help section of your favorite online store (or a physical store, but it you were ready to pass over this section of the post – my guess is you don’t frequent that aisle on your book store trips). Remember that books can be incredibly beneficial in this area because they offer a certain amount of privacy to work through something that you need help with but may not be ready to bring up to a friend, loved one, or therapist.
Books connect people. Ever stuck for conversation at a cocktail party? Business event? First date (or date with your partner of 40 years for that matter)? Talk about the latest interesting book you read! Obviously you don’t want to talk about How to Make Love Like a Porn Star at your business function, but maybe the latest Andrew Ross Sorkin book? (Another example of why reading for entertainment and knowledge is a good idea.) Not to mention all of the cool bookish people you can meet online via sites like Twitter and GoodReads, or through a book club with friends or acquaintances.
Do you have a balanced reading agenda? Share with others below some of the reasons or ways that you keep your (reading) diet balanced.
First things first, this is not a post about how to get more Twitter followers (there are plenty of articles about that all over the Internet), it’s about how to use Twitter for maximum enjoyment. Since this means different things to people, I’ll explore a couple of the ways that you can get the most out of Twitter. If getting the most out of Twitter means getting more followers (which is absolutely fine, and important for a lot of us!) some of the following ideas will organically help you with that as well. For the rest of the post I am assuming that you have created an account with Twitter. If not, go do that now… I’ll wait here.
Business, celebrity, and news information is a main reason people use Twitter. It is very easy to use Twitter for this. Many people have a Twitter icon on their website. This can be a bird, the word ‘twitter’, or the letter ‘t’. If you click on the icon, it should take you to their Twitter page. You can follow them by clicking on the ‘follow’ button under their picture and above their tweet feed. It looks like this…
You can also use the search box at the top of the page to type in the name of a celebrity or business that you want to follow. For example, I searched for ‘CNN’. Once taken to the search page for CNN I can see all the tweets mentioning CNN in the tweet feed (I might want to peruse this to see if there are other news sources or people I want to follow who have a similar interest as I do in CNN and news). On the top right hand side will be the list of accounts with CNN in their name. I can either click on the word ‘follow’ next to the name to automatically follow them, or I can click on their name or icon to be taken to their Twitter page to find out more about them.
Hobbies are also a large reason people get on Twitter. They want to be able to interact with others who like the same things as them, and they want to learn more about websites and blogs that provide information about what they are interested in. To find more accounts that are of interest to you, visit some of your favorite blogs and click through to their Twitter pages. Once there, you will see a list of Twitter accounts in the right hand column that are similar to them. It will say ‘Similar to @ABCYD’ (or whatever their Twitter handle is). Explore these links on your favorite bloggers pages, and then continue to explore using the ‘Similar to’ links on other people’s pages.
Make sure you explore the sites that are linked to your favorite Twitter accounts. Many, if not most, accounts are linked to people’s websites and blogs. Once you visit a Twitter page, you can see if they have a site listed by looking under their description by their picture. If they do have a site, check it out! It just might be your new favorite find.
Get involved in the conversation. Use the blank box at the top of the Twitter page to get involved in conversations. You openly message people by typing in their Twitter handle (@WhatEverTheirNameIs) and then typing a message. Most people will respond to you. Keep in mind, if they have 1 million followers or are a celebrity, there is a big chance that they can’t or don’t respond to all of their messages. Tweet them anyway! It’s fun. Do not worry if someone doesn’t respond, it’s not a big deal. Keep in mind, that if you don’t tweet ever and don’t follow anyone, people may think you’re spam. So before you start messaging people it’s a good idea to start following others and tweeting on your own (ideas, links, re-tweets, etc.). Once you start messaging with people Twitter starts becoming like a big water-cooler party!
And don’t be shy to butt into a conversation that you see happening. If people wanted their conversation to be private they would DM (Direct Message) the other person. If they’re tweeting, they know that the whole world can see their tweets as well as have an opinion about them. If you are nervous, a popular way to butt-in is to write *butting in*. For example…
Make lists, they’re a great way to organize the people you follow so that Twitter doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Many of us like to follow lots of people — either because we love their information or because we want to support their business/blog/website, but this can make our feeds get cluttered. Here’s where making lists come in handy. Once you have created lists, you can click on the list title to see tweets from people only in that category. You can organize them anyway you want, but here are some examples: Book Sites, Fashion Sites, News Sites, Celebrities, Friends & Family, Work Colleagues, etc.
How to make a list?
1.) When you’re on someone’s page, click on the person icon with the arrow next to it, and choose ‘Add to list’.
3.) Or, you can create a new list by clicking on the ‘Create a list’ link. It will prompt you to type in a list name. You must do this. You can add a description if you want to (but you don’t have to), and then decide if you want the list to be public or private. Public lists mean that the list will show up on your profile for others to see, private means it won’t. Perhaps if you title the list ‘The only sites I actually like – the rest are crap’, you might want to keep that list private so others don’t get their feelings hurt. However, if you title them normally it might be nice to keep them public; that way others will be able to find new-to-them Twitter accounts when they visit your page!
Like I said in How to Get the Most Out of GoodReads, there is so much offered on these social sites that it’s hard to cover everything. This is just a basic guide to getting started with Twitter. If you have questions, feel free ask in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them. You can also find help using the ‘Help’ link on the right hand side of the Twitter page.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and say hi!
According to the post I wrote, Top 5 Reasons I Prefer GoodReads to Facebook, it seems that I am not alone in the matter. It also seems that there are people who could use a little bit of help figuring out how to best utilize GoodReads (and possibly Twitter). Today I’ll be talking about GoodReads, next week I’ll explore Twitter a bit.
First things first; make sure you’ve set up an account on GoodReads. It’s quick and easy. In fact, you don’t even have to use your real name (I didn’t at first). For the rest of this post, I’m going to assume you already have an account and are wanting to know a little more about utilizing it for maximum enjoyment.
Friends are a big part of GoodReads. It is your friends (and the people you follow) who show up in your home feed (much like Facebook). You can see what they are reading, what books, quotes, favorite authors, etc. they are adding. You can also see which groups they are joining. This is helpful because you might be interested in these things to! You are, after all, friends with these people.So, how to find friends? Go to the top of your GoodReads page. You should see the tab for ‘friends’ in between ‘my books’ and ‘explore’.
Click on the word ‘friends’ and it will take you to your friends page. In the right hand column, it will give you the option to find your friends through different social mediums including some e-mails. Utilize this to see if any of your current friends are on GoodReads.
You can also use the search box to type in a friend’s name and see if they are on GoodReads. Keep in mind, not everyone uses their full name (or real name) so this might not work. Try anyway, what will it hurt? Using the ‘friends of friends’ tab in that right hand column is also a good way of finding familiar faces. Don’t know someone well enough to feel comfortable requesting a friend add? That’s ok, you can follow them instead. This means that their book activity will still show up in your home feed (unless they make it private). It’s kind of like following your favorite book blog, only more detailed! You can find the ‘add as a friend’ and the ‘follow reviews’ buttons on each person’s page under their picture and information.
Books are what GoodReads is mostly about. So next, you’ll want to find books. You can do it a myraid of ways.
- Use the search box at the top of the website to type in book title, author, or ISBN #.
- Click on the arrow next to the word ‘friends’. You will see a drop down menu that allows you to click on ‘popular books’ and ‘books my friends own’. This gives you the option to look at books that are popular with your friends and also see some of the books they’ve liked enough to buy (your friends have provided the information of which books they have bought, GoodReads is not a bookstore and does not keep track of purchases).
- Click on the arrow next to the ‘explore’ tab on the top of the page (near the ‘friends’ tab). This will give you many, many options of ways to explore the site looking for books. Play with this and find the way that works best for you. I particularly like ‘listopia’. It’s an area where readers have complied lists and lists of books! You can also add to these lists, vote on these lists, or create new ones if you want to.
- Click on the ‘group’ tab a the top of the page.
- Browse through Featured Groups or use the list in the right hand column to narrow your search.
- Once you find a group you want to join, click on the title of that group and it will take you to the group’s home page. Under the picture for the group you will see the ‘Join Group’ button. Click it. Welcome to your new group! From now on, when you click on the ‘groups’ tab, there will be a list titled ‘my groups’ on the Groups page, so you can easily find all of your groups in one place.
(After this article was published here on the blog, it was picked up and syndicated by BlogHer, check it out here!)