Just a little book wisdom from me to you. Lessons I have learnt along the way.
- Challenge yourself. Struggling with a book? Push through. I read another fellow book lover’s rule was to read 100 pages before giving up on a book (I would give credit to whoever’s great idea this is but I forgot who it was). I will never forget reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I had chosen it as an English text to focus an essay on, which I regretted when it came to reading it. I struggled and struggled to get into the book and forced myself to read a chapter a night just to get through it. Until suddenly when Mr Darcy stops by to visit Elizabeth halfway through the book and drops that bombshell…suddenly I couldn’t finish it quick enough. This book is now one of my all time favourite books that I probably would have never completed if I wasn’t forced to.
- But don’t feel obliged to finish every book. Once you have given a book a fair go, don’t feel like you need to finish it. Not every book is for everyone and there is no harm in saying this one is not for me. This was a hard one for me as I believe there is no such thing as a bad book (although I’m willing to make an exception for 50 Shades of Grey). Books are a part of someone’s soul that they have taken, worked on for hours on end and have gifted us in the form of bound pages. It would hurt when people rip them to shreds with negative reviews. Ultimately it all comes down to personal opinions, what one person will connect with, another will not. And that is okay. Life is too short to read a book that doesn’t interest you.
- Try try try new genres. I could not recommend this one enough. This year I have read historical fictions ranging from WWII to Ancient Egypt, thrillers and mysteries, science fiction and fantasy, classics and contemporary. The beauty of these different genres are you can live a thousand lives. I have been a lady samurai in ancient Japan, a gamer on the adventure of a lifetime in a dystopian future and a blind girl trying to survive during WWII France. Not to mention the ones based on actual historical events, The Revenant, Burial Rites, The Midnight Watch. All with the colourful embellishments of fiction but they transport you to another time. Besides, the less expectations you have of a new genre, the more you have to gain by opening yourself up to the surprises ahead.
- Join a book club or give a buddy read a go. Half the fun of reading a book sometimes is being able to discuss with other people. It opens you up to different ideas and perspectives that you yourself may not have noticed. Plus there is nothing like gushing about your favourite characters to others who have the same appreciation. Also particularly fun when reading a somewhat controversial or polarising book, some examples including The Natural Way Of Things by Charlotte Wood and The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. Guaranteed to generate a lot of discussion. It is a great experience and challenges you to think critically and form opinions you can back up.
- Use cover art, blurbs and recommendations to draw you in, but don’t be ruled by other people’s opinions. Bookstagram, Goodreads, bestseller lists are all great places to find inspiration for books to read. There is also nothing wrong with being drawn into a book by an alluring cover, just check the synopsis to check it is something you think you might actually enjoy. But don’t get too caught up in other people’s opinions. Just because a few or even a lot of people give a book a bad review, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Conversely, don’t let the fact that everyone is gushing over a book impede your thoughts of it. Expectations tend to ruin a lot of things so take care not to let other people’s thoughts overshadow your experience. I tend to prefer to read most reviews after I have read a book myself. That way these thoughts don’t shape my own perceptions while reading it. Instead I can consider them afterwards and retrospectively apply them to the novel, deciding if I agree with them or not. There can be quite a lot gained from this practice but always once your own opinions have been allowed to be formed.