How to Read More Books in 2022

The start of the new year brings with it joy, hope and a new chance to start over or improve on the things that didn’t go quite so well. Everything can always be improved upon and made even better. It’s a matter of if you are willing to or not. One of my goals this year is to read more books. In this digital age, I find myself always reading, but it’s mostly news, online articles, papers, and researching on websites. Reading a book is different, it lets you become totally immersed in the book, the idea, the running theme of the book for several hundred pages. It lets you dwell and spend valuable time with it. 

Last year, I managed to read more books than the previous year, however, I still have a pile of books waiting to be read.  My husband, who likes actionable goals, would ask me how many more books would be considered “more” and when would it be “enough.” What would be my plan for achieving this goal?

Regarding the number of books, I am not going to compare myself to those who read 100 to 250 books or year or roughly 2-4 books in a week.  Although that was me in my young, school days when I didn’t have the responsibilities of an adult, the question then remains how many books should I read? Do I need a numerical goal or should the focus be on how much indeed I get from these books?

On the number of books to read in a year, a study by Kantar Insights in 2019 surveyed British readers and found that although more than half (54%) had read a book in the past year, only 34% or readers managed to read 10 or more books.  In the US, according to the Pew Research Center which surveyed Americans in early 2021, a quarter said they had not read a book in whole or in part in the past year. This is whether in print, electronic, or audio form. Those who did, read an average of 12 books per year. The survey has several interesting insights concerning demographics but I won’t go into that here. 

Researching how best it was to read more books, I’ve selected some insights which I personally have tried and work for me and some which I need to work on

  1. Set an attainable goal for yourself. Start with one book per month or if you are finding that you are finishing it early, read another.  Don’t make it it stressful. Reading books need to be enjoyable and not add to the daily stress of life.
  2. Choose books that keep you wanting to read.  Don’t be afraid to put down a book half way through if you don’t like it or don’t know why you are reading it. We’ve all clicked on that bad movie on Netflix or chosen a book that showed promises but turned out a disappointment.  Don’t waste precious time on it. Put it down and away. You don’t have to be a ‘winner’ when it comes to reading books. 
  3. Read a diverse variety of books simultaneously. Rotate your reading between several books. I like a good fiction novel yet also I like books that are non-fiction and ones that help me grow personally. Read whatever genre comes to you when you feel like reading. You don’t have to read only one book before you move onto the next. You may read four to five books simultaneously. Read that fun book before bed. Read the non-fiction during the day or vice verse.
  4. Take it with you wherever you go.  Don’t rely on our “smart” mobile phones when you have wait time. Bring your book with you wherever you go so that when you find yourself with a bit of extra time, you can just bring it out and enjoy a few pages of the book. Use a kindle or download the app if you don’t want to carry a physical book around. 
  5. Find your reading nook. Do you have a favourite place you can just sit and read without being distracted?  Find your reading nook, make sure it’s well lit and comfortable. Bring your favourite drink. 
  6. Know yourself. By this, I mean to know your own eyes. For a long time I didn’t realise I didn’t finish some books because I was reading books printed in small fonts. Somewhere along in time, my eyes grew old, I became long-sighted and did not want to read the tiny fonts. I changed to buy books printed in big fonts or using a kindle where I can easily increase the font size. Reading became once again pleasurable. Oh, and of course my progressive lens helped. 
  7. Join a book club or set up a book club.  Discuss the books with a group. Reading is fun and not necessarily a lone activity. Hearing other views may open you up to new ideas.

I hope you find these tips useful. Happy reading ! 

Digitalized yet Feel

Christmas came and vanished in a blink of an eye.  In a couple of days it will no longer be 2011 and I am going to have to rewire my brain to write my dates with 2012 (or in the Buddhist calendar 2555).  So much has happened yet there are still so many things waiting to happen.  Who knows what the future holds? Will the year 2012 be the end of the world or will it bring with it renewed hope? I suppose we will just have to live through it to find out.   I pray though that whatever happens, it brings happiness and that at the end of it all, we can look back and appreciate the year we had.

The last few days I have finally gotten into the digital book age with the initiation of my first reading of a novel on tablet.  I never thought I would. (Thank you Alex for downloading roughly 10GB worth of novels onto my tablet!)  I had always been somewhat old fashioned in my preference for paper and having documents printed out.  I like the smell and feel of paper. I love feeling the texture of paper and ink between my fingers.   I spend hours on end lost between stacks of books in the library or at the bookstore.  I derive pleasure from observing the beauty of book covers or looking at the printed typeface on paper.  There’s something about the ink and the smell of printed books that is somewhat mesmerizing.

I grew up in an age where we wrote essays and papers by hand. First draft, second draft and final drafts were all done with ink and paper. Computers came later.  Now those days are gone and we are gradually moving into an age where printed books will be less in demand.  I am finally starting to understand why.

I wanted to buy Murakami’s newest novel, IQ84, but seeing it’s sheer size and thoughts about the lack of shelf space and the other large books I have in line waiting to be read pushed that thought aside.  Undeterred, Alex got me a digital version and I am finding opportunities to read like never before.  Waiting to see a doctor, waiting to get medicine for my sniffling cold, lazing in bed and whatever free time I have, I can now read books rather than just play around on Facebook.

All this techonology is fun. It is good, but let it not consume us.  Technology lets us enjoy and use our spare time.  However, we must also remember to raise our heads up from the iPhones, iPads, tablets, kindles and all these gadgets every now and then and smell the sweet scent of the flowers in bloom, feel the breeze in the air and listen to the person besides us.  Enjoy the cool air that is breezing through Bangkok 🙂 or if you are somewhere with snow, make a Snow Angel.  🙂

Old Town Bangkok: Neilson Hays Library

I like libraries.  Ever since I was young, it would be somewhere we went to each weekend, and thus started my love of books.  At home we have so many books, we could start our own library.  However, nowadays I seem to read a lot fewer books compared to my younger days.  My reading is usually done on the internet or on my iPhone.  I should really go back to books… Anyways, if you read a lot of books and don’t want to have to buy them all, in Bangkok we have the Neilson Hays Library which has been around since 1869. Wow. 142 years.

142 years is a long time to have a building still standing in Bangkok.  As most of our houses were built of wood, many buildings have been lost to fire and flooding.  Neilson Hays Library, built of brick, still remains.

I’ve driven past this library on Surawong road more times than I can remember, and every time I tell myself I have to go in and check it out.  I finally did.  Now I can cross it off my “To do” list.  I don’t like having it stuck at the back of my mind.

Upon entering the compound, I was struck first by how large it was.  I didn’t expect it to have a parking lot, yet it did and one that could easily fit a couple of cars.   There was a nice open square and a relatively new coffee shop lining one side of the square.  Here’s another coffee/tea place you can go find some peace in busy Bangkok.  There were a few people there, but most of the clientele were expatriates.  Interesting. I suppose they come from the British club next door.  Food at the cafe is supposed to be from the Club.

I walk into the library and am brought back in time.   It reminds me of libraries I’ve seen in England yet it has ceiling fans.  This could easily be a scene you see in colonial movies.  This was western architecture adapted to life in hot and humid Asia.  Of course now the building is airconditioned and the ceiling fans are just relics of the past.

Wooden shelves line the aisles and books are neatly stored behind glass.  There is a lot of dust in Bangkok.  There are wooden tables and chairs for you to sit and read and there are quiet corners where you can spend the day reading away.

I walk further to the back of the library and instantly fall in love with the Children’s corner.  This is the most active part of the library with coloured decorations and soft seatings for children.   There are a few families there with parents reading to their children.  Some are lying down with the child in their arms and a book wide open.  It’s a scene of love and memories. 

I am told that they have “story telling” time.  I want to do that sometimes.  It looks like fun…  If you get bored, there is a little rotunda where artwork is put on display.  I love it.  I could spend an entire day here having some “me” time.

I make my way back to the entrance and ask for details.  You can spend the entire day there for 50thb ($1.6) which is a great deal if you just want to read and be somewhere quiet.  Air-condition included.   If you want to borrow books, you can also apply for membership which entitles you to several books and paperbacks.    I think I found the place to donate my books.  Here they will be loved and read.

Here’s their website 🙂