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Tips to Become a Better Reader?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Netardapope, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    I haven't been active here in a while because I've been trying to focus more on reading. Slowly, I've noticed that I've become more lazy with the rate at which I read things. I've yet to find a book I consider bad, the problem is that I just can't immerse myself anymore. I can't let myself be sucked in like I used to. I used to read 100 pages in an hour, now that's dropped to 30.

    It's been killing me inside. I think it's gotten better, but I still can't pinpoint what's gone over me. Maybe it's the fact that I've been reading books with light descriptive prose, although I've always enjoyed reading prose that was borderline purple? I've been reading types of books I don't usually read? I can't point out which is the clear issue. It feels like I can't sink my teeth into anything anymore.

    Has anyone felt the same? Any advice? I'm not sure if this is fit for this thread, but I couldn't find another thread that seemed to work with this. So feel free to move this if it's not suitable. Any help is appreciated!

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  2. Hmm. I'd like to start off by saying that I experience reading troubles too. In the past year I've noticed that for someone who professes to love books I don't read that much. Whenever I think about reading I think about the dozen other things I have to do and it seems like a waste of time. I wish I could overcome that...I have been reading, but I want to read MORE. I keep getting stuck on books I dislike and that is causing some of the problems.

    Maybe it's just in the different types of books you've started to read. I notice that I read some books better or more quickly or more attentively than others. When you read outside of what you normally read (btw, it's great that you're doing that) your reading habits do kind of change.
     
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  3. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    That might be the case. I've been reading a bit too much of "generic" fantasy as of late with my dnd novels. The worst part is that the slower I get, the larger my backlog becomes. I have at least ten other books waiting to be read!

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  4. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    I suspect the key to reading more is to either alter your routine or find a few unclaimed moments throughout the day to conquer a scene or a couple chapters. My boyfriend says he leaves a book by the toilet :D ... I guess he's guaranteed to gets a few minutes in that way. LOL. He works longer hours than I do but he usually picks up a book for half an hour when he gets home. I usually read before bed or in the kitchen while I'm waiting for something to cook. In college I used to read on the bus or between classes.

    Having a reading partner might be something worth considering ... I'm always working on reading my own stuff but my BF wants to read more so he and I have decided to read a book together. We're picking a few chapters for the week and we'll discuss them on the weekend (like a private book club). He's hoping it'll keep him more accountable and I suspect it will. I read far more quickly with "assignments" and clear goals than just wandering through the pages on my own. I hate disappointing people so that little incentive not to let the other person down is enough to make a difference for us.
     
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  5. Reading partner? Hmm...actually one of my friends recommends me books and I recommend him books and I'm kinda being kept accountable by updating him on how I'm doing with his recs. It's nice to have a friend you share a taste in books with. Also my best friend (one of them...I have a few best friends) has been hounding me to finish reading LOTR, which she is obsessed with. (I started forever ago but then I LOST the book and never found it so I had to buy a new edition. Then my brother started reading it. Now I'm FINALLY going to start reading it...well, today, probably, since I just finished To Kill a Mockingbird.)

    Yes, my friends are readers and they're really cool ;)

    You know, we could start a Reading Accountability Club here on Mythic Scribes ...
     
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  6. SergeiMeranov

    SergeiMeranov Scribe

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    I think sometimes if you read drab writing, or sometimes even well written work, that you eventually get a sense of "been there, done that". I find myself thinking that more and more with fantasy works. You'll read a book and then three chapters in you can pretty much label everyone and the role they'll play in the story and how the arcs will go. It can make for a disheartening reading experience.

    Even great works like "A Song of Ice and Fire" by GRRM falls prey to this. It took me ages to get through some of the more recent books. Though I'll save my rants about the decline of that series for a separate post. Overall thing is that the best treatment for this is to seek out new, interesting takes on the genre or maybe read outside of it. If you normally like epic fantasy go read a non-fiction book or go read something from the literary genre. Sometimes it pays to get outside your wheelhouse.
     
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  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Almost the opposite situation for me, thanks to the Kindle. I typically read for an hour or so after getting back from work and doing a few chores - especially this time of year. Then, after writing and surfing the net, I'll pick up the Kindle (or a paper book) once more.

    Lovecraftian horror weirdness. Fantasy, aiming for the bit more offbeat stuff. Some science fiction. The odd thriller or mystery. Read two books Monday (holiday for me).

    Yes, there is a fair bit I find out I don't care for. And some of the works I read have severe grammar and/or worldbuilding issues. Some of the entries from 'Top Scribe' and its predecessor 'Iron Pen' are of superior quality to many of these tales, which should give budding authors here hope. This is especially true with my latest Kindle download, the 'Lovecraft E-zine Mega Pack' - downloaded because I'd reached the end of the list.
     
  8. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    I don't think it's really about how many books you read, but what kind of books you read. If your choosing books of a good quality that help you grow as a writer and as a person.
    To make sure I keep up with reading I have a reading list. One for fun and another one for writing. So I try to choose books similar to what I'm writing currently to get the feel for that area, or books that handles themes I want to include. Because my main passion is writing, that drives me to read (which is more difficult than switching on the TV after a long day at work) because I think it'll help me with my main goal.

    That's just me though.
     
  9. Ronald T.

    Ronald T. Troubadour

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    I might be way off the mark, but I think the problem arises when readers become writers. Because there is a danger when that happens. A writer can never simply read as they did when they were a reader only, back when they could read for no other reason than the pleasure it gave.

    As a writer, I can never read without weighing the quality of the writing, and without studying the way the author was able to create a particular scene that conjured powerful emotions in me as a reader.

    In other words, writers read with a critical eye. At least, it's been so for me. It's part of who I am now. But I do miss the days when reading was for the sheer joy alone.

    Because of that change, I tend to read slower. Perhaps it's the same with you?
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    If the problem is your selection of books, you could try reading a couple of different books at once to see if any of them grab you more than the others.

    If the problem is your motivation, then remember that it's fun - or remember that it's a required task for becoming a writer - whichever of those gets your eyes on the page.

    If the problem is your reading habits, then look for a time of day where you do one thing regularly, and build a reading habit on top of it. Have lunch and then read. Take a shower and then read. Go to bed and then read. Whatever fits.

    If the problem is your attention span, you've got to take the pressure off, and forgive yourself for not getting as far as you want. Tension = Not reading = Not getting better at it. You need to accept wherever your reading level is right now, and work with it instead of emotionally fighting it.
     
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  11. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    How about just reading for enjoyment? Turn off the critical writer voice inside your head and relax with your book.
     
  12. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    Last paragraph is probably it. I get so caught up in thinking about things I ought to do rather than actually do them. It's one of the worst habits I've picked up lately.

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  13. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    I agree. When I read prose I consider slighlty inferior, all I do is think of how I would write it. When I read prose that is superior to mine, I want to rush over to my novel and reread what I'd written up to that point. It's nice to have a critical eye, but sometimes I wish it would just stay shut.

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  14. Meee! I think "I HAVE A THOUSAND THINGS TO DO" and i lie in bed and obsess about it for an hour, too paralyzed to do any of them...meanwhile an hour has gone by...
     
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  15. Also me. When i read a good book i get depressed like "I will never write something as amazing and beautiful as this..."
     
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  16. Ronald T.

    Ronald T. Troubadour

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    I wish I could, Chessie. But that's just the problem...I no longer seem to have that ability. :(

    And, Netardapope, I wish I could selectively shut that distracting eye, as well.

    And, Dragon, all I can say is: I hope you find a way to turn that "depression" into "determination". When you do -- and I don't think that day is very far down the road -- you'll soon be writing just as beautifully as your favorite writers. Good luck.
     
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  17. Soldon

    Soldon New Member

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    It's better to just enjoy the book.
     
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    OTOH, Ronald T., when I read a truly good book, that internal editor blisses out. In some ways I enjoy the book even more because I can appreciate what the writer has done, in addition to enjoying the story itself. Doesn't happen very often.
     
  19. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

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    This is very true, but the sad aspect is that this often only applies to masterworks. When it comes to books that are just good or even great, the internal editor continues to bicker for me.

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  20. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    It does. It's unavoidable, and it happens in every art form. Learn how to paint and you'll never view paintings quite the same way again.

    I learned this when I took a course in music production. Right at the start, the engineer told us that once we had learned even the basics of how to put tracks together into a finished song, we would never listen to music simply for enjoyment. It was true. It did not ruin music for me, far from it, but it did color my listening.

    Perhaps most particularly in the arts, ignorance is bliss.
     
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