Most of us, if not all, have a number of books that we go back to often. We re-read them over and over, enjoying them more with each read. They are books that comfort or captivate us, ones that touched or enriched us in some way. I know I have a few shelves dedicated to my favorite "re-reads".
There are a few books that I make a point of re-reading every year, among them are Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Louis L'Amour's The Lonesome Gods, and Anne LaBastille's excellent series of memoirs, the Woodswoman series. Though I already have this practice in place, I've found myself re-reading even more books this year, so much so, I think it's safe to say that I've re-read books I've read in previous years more than I've read new books this year.
2019 has reminded me of the joy and benefits of re-reading good book. I've found that I take more away from a second or third reading. I've also learned that it is often beneficial to go back and re-read a book that you may have found wanting after the first read. Returning to a book later down the line will often find you reading it with new eyes and a new perspective. This tends to enhance your overall reading experience. What once seemed like a dull, lacking, or hard to grasp book, transforms into an enlightening, wonderful read.
I have found that timing is everything when it comes to certain books. You can pick up a great book, but if it's at the wrong time, it'll hinder your experience. Countless times, I have picked up a book and started to read, only to put it down because I just couldn't get into it. I've learned that when this happens, it doesn't necessarily mean that the book isn't right for you, just that the time isn't right. I've often returned to a book months or even a year or more later, only to find it an excellent or, at the very least, useful read.
While some people may advise you to get rid of that book that you never finished sitting on your shelf, I'd recommend holding on to it for a bit. You never know, by giving it another chance, you just might find a new favorite book. Give yourself a chance to discover the joy of re-reading. ;)
In case you haven't noticed, I've been pretty silent on the blog front, particularly when it comes to Modern Jo March. I've already published a post discussing some of the reasons why MJM has been dark for most of this year, but I wanted to take some time and discuss the other reason now.
I have been suffering from chronic migraines for about 2 or 3 years now that have been progressively getting worse. As part of the treatment and attempts to relieve and reduce them, I was told to limit my screen time, because obviously staring at a screen for long periods of time isn't good for you (in more ways than one). As a result, the last several months has found me putting down the kindle and other devices, and picking up physical books, and it's actually been really great!
As a book blogger, beta reader, and proofreader, I am often sent far more digital copies of books than physical ones, with good reason, digital copies are easier and cheaper to share for authors and publishers. The problem I've come up against is the fact that in order to read and review, or read and give feedback, I find myself spending a lot of time staring at my kindle screen (or laptop, depending on what kind of work each book requires of me). That's not good for my brain and is a prominent trigger for my migraines.
So what to do?
As of February, I started cutting back on my screen time all around, not only putting down my kindle, but also cutting back on my time scrolling through social media and staring at screens as a whole. I have requested a physical copy when I can, explaining my issues with migraines, while cutting back on the digital copies I accept. This has done two things for me: 1) I am much better (and pickier) at choosing the books (digital copies) that I cover, as I only have a limited amount of screen time to devote to them these days (and a limited budget to buy physical copies!), and 2) I've also gotten much better at making the most of my screen time.
As a freelance writer and blogger, I do have to maintain not only a social media presence (though it's not a large one), but also keep up the content for both my blogs. I've learned to use social media management platforms (I use Hootsuite and Buffer) which helps me cut down my daily screen time as they allow me to schedule posts in bulk for the week as well as see all of my social feeds in one place (organized into columns). They've been a huge help!
NOTE: A few other helpful things for me are to check the time whenever I open an App to be more mindful about how much time I spend on it (I only allow myself about 5 minutes at a time on my socials) and to dim my screens when I do use my devices. Both have made a huge difference in my migraine frequency.
While navigating this journey to better brain health, I have come to learn a few things. I realized that I tend to retain a book better when I'm looking at a physical page, rather than a screen. For some reason, I have a much better, deeper experience with books when I'm reading physical copies as opposed to digital. This doesn't surprise me too much, as I have always preferred physical books to digital anyway, I just didn't realize how much more I got out of a physical book versus a digital.
I've also learned how much more productive I can be when I cut out time spent on social media and scrolling the internet. It's truly a marvel the amount of work you can get done when you're not tied to a device. ;) Also, it's amazing how much happier I am when I don't spend a lot of time staring at a screen!
These days, my screen time is about 85% devoted to writing, researching for my books and projects, the upkeep of my website and blogs, and freelance work for other authors. It's a simpler and more organized way to conduct your day, and I for one am happy with the outcome.
Who knew migraines could end up being helpful?! ;) (But make no mistake, they are also a really trying and painful aspect of life)
I would challenge others to be more mindful of your screen time and how it impacts your life. I believe you'll be surprised. ;)
As most of you have already gathered, I am an avid reader and a hardcore book lover. I average about 65 to 100 books a year, depending on the business of the year. Through the course of my reading life , I have learned a great deal not only about general info on history and such, but also about the art of writing, the English language, publishing, and how to live your best reading life. I'd like to share a few tips on living your best reading life with you today.
This first tip may sound weird or a no brainer, but for a lot of avid readers and bookish souls, it's a hard one to realize and accept. One of the hardest things for a lot of readers is allowing yourself to put down a book without finishing it. It is ok to not finish a book that you just can't get into. You do NOT have to torture yourself and stick it out. There seems to be a misconception that we must finish every book we start, and it's simply not true. Something I learned from author/podcaster/ blogger, Anne Bogel, is that life is too short to read bad books. If a book isn't your cup of tea, it's not worth your precious reading time.
Though, I will say, don't be afraid to go back to the book later if you liked the overall plot/story of the book, but just couldn't seem to get into it right then. Sometimes it's just a matter of being the right book but at the wrong time, therefore you may enjoy it during another season of life or time of year. Some books seem ready made for autumn or winter, while others are better received in the summer. It's just a matter of knowing it's not the right time. So my dear bookish soul, don't feel like you have to write a book off all together, maybe you'll go back to it at a better time.
Another tip that may seem obvious, but again, a lot of readers don't seem to know, is that it is very important to know your reading wheelhouse. What genres are your go-to genres? Are there one or more genres that you find it easy to find books that never disappoint you. For some it's Romance, for others it's Sci-Fi, and others it's YA. There's no such thing as a "wrong genre", we all have different tastes, therefore never feel shame about your favorite genre(s). In order to live your best reading life, it's important to know which genres work best for you so you can maximize your reading experience.
That's not to say you shouldn't or can't venture outside of your preferred genre(s). You never know when you'll discover a new genre that you adore. ;)
The last tip that I'd like to share with you today, is to keep track of what books you've read, are reading, and want to read. There are many apps out there that can help you with this, my favorite app is Goodreads on which you can track all three AND organize those books further into lists of your choosing. For the nerdier souls, like myself, you can keep an Excel spreadsheet. You can also keep it super simple and just keep a notebook with a simple list of books you've read and want to read. You tailor it to your needs and preferences.
I hope you find these tips helpful and will enrich your reading life the way they've enriched mine. Would you like more tips? Have any suggestions? Just want to chat about books in general, feel free to contact me through the social media icons on this page or through my contact page. Happy reading!
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....