What’s your proportion of “snack-reading”, versus digesting a nice long book? Were you once a consummate book lover before life (and bite-sized Instagram posts) got in the way?
Here’s the interesting news about the local reading scene: People are actually reading more. According to Singapore’s National Library Board, e-loans from the library doubled to 3 million in 2018, compared to 2017. The percentage of adults who read more than once a week also rose from 80% in 2016 to 88% in 2018.
The National Library pins this trend down on increasingly digitalised lifestyles that have made reading a more convenient pastime. Today’s readers are more likely to be consuming more information through Facebook-linked news, Reddit threads or blog posts (like this one!). But to truly internalise ideas and life-changing narratives from books, it’s best to keep an eye on cultivating habits to read well.
If one of your resolutions this year is to be a better reader, here are a couple of ideas to help you with sticking to the story.
Read opposing genres
Take a look at your bookshelf or your kindle list. If the majority of the titles belong to a certain genre, such as Christian Lifestyle, or Spiritual Warfare, then perhaps it’s time to mix things up a little. Try out fiction titles or biographies, even if it takes a little effort to get through the books.
And while you’re at it, try reading The Passion Translation (TPT) if the New King James Version (NKJV) bible has been your staple. Reading outside of what you’re comfortable with tends to challenge you to look at situations in a different light. Try it!
Browse, browse, browse
Book lovers generally love bookstores. While digital convenience is great, the analogue feel and smell of a printed page can be even more magical. But what’s spellbinding about browsing a bookstore, as opposed to browsing the website of a bookstore, is the discovery of books that may be completely out of your consideration set. Throw in a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the mix, instead of keeping to books recommended to you by Amazon. Swing by Faithworks if you’re in Singapore!
Ask the Holy Spirit
Only God would know what’s crucial for you to read at this point of time, or what would minister to your spirit in future seasons. As you browse, ask. Keep your ears in tune with the books that God would direct you to read, even if it doesn’t quite make sense at the moment.
Keep a journal handy
Some readers love to devour a book from cover to cover, put it away, and then return to it another time. Others may prefer to go really slow, gleaning lessons and appreciating the technicalities of language as they graze through the book. Whichever type of reader you are, here’s a tip from us: keep a journal handy to jot down ideas. In that way, your mind doesn’t have to hang on to every interesting thought that comes to you and you’ll be free to enjoy the book. If you wish to revisit the book to study its ideas later, your journal will be there to jog your memory.
Read the books of the bible like you would a book
Separate from a morning devotion of a chapter or two, try reading the books of the bible. The bible has been compared to a library holding 66 separate books of a variety of genres. Read through the narrative books to gain an understanding of the context of historical times, or enjoy the poetry of the Psalms to appreciate the cultural setting of biblical times.
When you read a whole book at a go, you grasp the key themes and message of the author in a way that would otherwise be difficult to internalise if you read a chapter at a time.
So there you have it – our tips on becoming a better reader. There are many ways to engage with books and we’re just scratching the surface with these ideas. We hope that these have blessed you, and you’ll end the year not just by reading more, but by internalising more of what you’ve read. Now, go forth and get reading!
*Straits Times, 1 Jul 2019, People in Singapore reading more: NLB https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/people-in-spore-reading-more-nlb-study