Outside the Reading Comfort Zone

Hey everyone! If you follow me on Twitter (@wavesofpages), you know that these past few months haven’t been great for me, reading-wise. I’ve only read 7 books this whole year so far. Part of that is because I’ve been in France and I’ve been travelling a lot, instead of spending all my time indoors like I do when I’m at home, but really, that shouldn’t be an excuse. I’ve had time to read, and I’ve even felt like reading, and yet, I haven’t.

I can’t say it’s because I felt like reading would just be wasting the relatively small amount of time I have here because one, reading is never a waste of time, and two, I definitely spent plenty of time doing other time-wasting things while here (like, for example, watching YouTube or Netflix), and I had no problem doing any of those.

Maybe it’s because I felt like any books I read should be French books, and not English ones? Well, I bought some books in French, but have I started them? No.

Honestly, I don’t really know what the problem is. It doesn’t feel like a normal slump. I’m just not in my comfort zone, I guess. I still haven’t exactly figured out how to fix the problem, so I can’t give tips on how to do that, but I’ve learned a lot about what doesn’t work while struggling with it, so I thought it might be fun to give you all a list of some things not to do when you’re trying to get used to reading outside of your normal routines. Who knows, some of them might even be helpful.

1. Don’t give yourself too small of a selection.

I know, this is hard. You’re not at home, and it’s not like you can bring your whole bookshelf with you everywhere you go (as awesome as that would be), but something I’ve noticed since coming here is that, at least for me, having a smaller selection of books makes me less likely to want to read any of them.

I only brought 3 physical books with me, and I downloaded a handful of other books as e-books on my phone, and none of those books were calling to me at all, even though all of them are books that, at the time when I packed them or downloaded them, I really wanted to read. Instead of wanting to read those books, my thoughts kept going to other books, books I didn’t bring, that are sitting on my bookshelf at home. My selection was just too small, and I only started getting back into reading a little more when I widened it by looking for books to read on my library app.

2. Don’t bring just one type of book.

This is a mistake I made for sure. You guys know that I read mostly fantasy, but I’m also kind of a mood reader, and when I was packing for this 4-month trip, I was in a fantasy mood. Then when I got to France and unpacked all my stuff, I wasn’t as much anymore, and all those fantasy books I brought and downloaded just sat unread.

So, especially if you’re a mood reader, try to bring/download a wide range of genres. It’s impossible to predict what you’ll be in the mood for, so you need to be prepared by having a little bit of everything.

3. Don’t forget your e-books.

I’m guilty of this all the time, probably more so at home than here, but I tend to download a book onto my phone, all excited, telling myself I’m going to read it, and then I never do because I just forget the e-book is there, or I get distracted by all the other things I can do on my phone and end up doing one of those other things instead of reading. Here, I don’t do that as much, because, after all, the majority of my possible reading material is on my phone.

The solution to this problem is, I suppose, to get an e-reader, preferably one that doesn’t let you do anything but read, but then the problem becomes that you have to remember to take a whole other device with you whenever you go places, which also seems a bit unlikely. So really, you just have to make those e-books a priority.

I normally don’t really like reading e-books, but they have honestly saved my reading life since I came to France. If I didn’t have e-books, I would only have read one book this entire year so far. 6 out of the 7 books I’ve read since the beginning of this year were in e-book form, and now I’ve fallen in love with them.

If you only remember one thing from this post, remember this: e-books are a lifesaver in not-at-home situations.

4. Don’t assume your old routines will stay with you.

Maybe at home, you always read for the last hour before bed, or the first hour after waking up. Maybe you always listen to an audiobook while on your way to work or read during lunch. Let me just tell you: once you’re not at home anymore, those routines will not be routine anymore—and trying to force the old habits into this new place might not work. You’ll have to adapt and find new routines that are better suited to your new environment.

It’s something I’m still struggling with, and I’m sure I will struggle with it again when I get back home in a few weeks. It’ll be like learning everything all over again.

***

Okay! That’s all I’ve got for today’s post, you guys. I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, let me know down in the comments, and while you’re down there, let me know if you’ve ever been out of your reading comfort zone for a long time, and how you handled it.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon!

-Ariel

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