I love reading books, but often it becomes hard to keep a book “alive” for extended periods of time. Since it’s usually not practical to finish an entire book in one sitting, it’s necessary to repeatedly remove yourself from the story, and then come back to it as your spare time, and interest in the story dictates. That’s why God invented bookmarks (no, not the browser ones – real, physical bookmarks).
The trouble I come across is putting a book down (for the day), and then never finding the interest to go back to it. It’s not that I’m not interested in the story, it’s just that other areas of my life take over, and I forget about my initial enthusiasm for the book.
Here’s my problem: I have no trouble starting books – they all look so appealing, fresh, and full of ideas – as they sit there on the bookstore or library shelf. My problem is finishing books.
I could blame it on Twitter and the internet in general, which has taught us to quickly digest content in small chunks – read it, understand it, and move on. This is no model for absorbing a 200-400 page novel. The internet has forced us into information overload, which has shortened our attention spans.
Regardless, I still manage to read a half-dozen books each year – a number I’d like to increase. There is no reason I can’t absorb at least a book per month.
Here are some tips for making sure you finish each book that you begin. The idea is to keep the enthusiasm alive for the entire course of the book, even during long intervals where you haven’t read any of it.
The story remains alive
It’s OK if you experience long intervals of non-reading. Eventually you’ll get back to the book, and pick up from where you left off. The story never dies in your head.
Exit on a good note
Before you put a book down for the day, take a few minutes and jot down some thoughts:
- What new developments have occurred in the story since the last time you read it?
- What do you think will happen during the remainder of the story?
By making a mental note of these questions, you’ll further enhance your interest in the story, making you want to return to it as soon as possible.
Avoid book overload
It’s easy to start books, but harder to follow through and finish them. If you are in the middle of reading a few books, don’t go out and obtain more. You’ll only clutter yourself and disassemble your priorities to finish books you’ve already started.
Finish the books you’ve started, then treat yourself to new books.
If it sucks, let it go
Don’t be afraid to stop reading books that are not keeping your interest. I know this seems contradictory, but there’s a fine line between laziness and disinterest. Books should keep your interest at all times, otherwise they are not worth reading. Don’t feel forced or obligated to finish every book you start, but don’t quit just to quit.
There are far too many books out there to feel any obligation to the boring ones.