Top ten tips for reading more and some extra book recommendations

This year, I set myself a target of reading 40 books (recently increased from 30). Last year I managed 37 which included a spell in hospital and several weeks recovering from bilateral pulmonary emboli as well as holidays. At the time of posting this blog, I am on book no. 23 so a little behind my target.

 

Bill Gates is reported to read 50 books a year. Barack Obama famously recommended many books during his presidency and, no doubt, continues to be an avid reader.

 

In my book club, THE Book Club on Facebook, affectionately known as TBC, there are thousands of members from around the world who share their love of books and reading. Many of them read far more than me, and also review and blog about what they have read. It is a “Secret” group, so you would need to be added by an existing member. Do get in touch if you’d like to be added to this group.

 

We all have busy lives with jobs, family and friends, and many other things using up our precious time but I have always believed that we make time for the things that we really want to do. So how can we make more time for reading?

 

Here are my top tips:

  • Find the right book. J.K. Rowling is quoted as saying “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book yet.” There are so many books out there. It would be impossible to read them all, but find a genre you like and then search within that: Romance, Family Saga, Historical, Crime, Psychological Thriller, Horror, Sci-Fi, Dystopian … the list goes on. And then there are non-fiction books too on any subject you care to mention.
  • Set yourself a target – it could be to read a book a month or to read for ½ hour every day.
  • Use Goodreads.com to maintain a list of the books you want to read and track what you have read. It is also a good site to see what other readers think of books you have selected.
  • When you go to bed, leave your phone, tablet or any other mobile device downstairs. Aside from disturbing your sleep, you really don’t need to check your emails or social media again after 10 pm! Read a book for a while instead – and that can be a physical book or on a device like a Kindle that is not back-lit.
  • If you commute by train take a book or your reading device with you to read rather than checking your phone.
  • If you commute by car try audio books, there are a lot more available nowadays.
  • In fact, wherever you go, take a book with you. You never know when you might have time to read another chapter or two while you wait for an appointment.
  • Get book recommendations from friends, family and colleagues – there are always new authors to be discovered.
  • Join a book club either online or local to where you live. TBC, see above, doesn’t have set books to read but there is a book of the month selected that you can read and then get involved in the discussion about it.  
  • Above all, enjoy your reading. If you are not enjoying a particular book you don’t have to finish it! It may well be something you come back to at another time but if not time is too precious to waste on a book you are not enjoying.  

 

Some extra recommendations: 

 

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

My all time favourite book, and the one I have re-read most often, is Rebecca. Daphne du Maurier was writing psychological thrillers long before they were a thing. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” The famous opening line is all it takes to transport me to the gothic and haunting setting for this book. 2018 marks the 80th anniversary of its publication and it is deservedly a modern classic. 

 

The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

This was one of my top ten reads in 2017 and is one of the picks for the new Zoe Ball Book Club. In essence, it is a story of love set in the present and the summer of 1977 in Brooklyn. It is atmospheric, descriptive, magical, compelling and, for a while at least, you can believe anything is possible.  

 

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Before it was released in early 2017, this title was cleverly marketed in social media with #WTFthatending. Also in my top ten reads of 2017, I read it within a day, so eager was I to find out that ending. The story starts ostensibly as a love triangle but transforms into a superb suspense thriller. I defy anyone to guess the ending. #WTF indeed.

 

Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary

Someone Else’s Skin was the deserved winner of the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year in 2015. It is the first in a series of books by Sarah Hilary featuring DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake. Marnie has a harrowing back story so it is worth reading them in order for that, although each book does stand alone. Sarah Hilary has an incredible knack for delving into very difficult topics – domestic abuse in this book – with empathy and an understanding of how hard it must be for the police to deal with. There are violent scenes but nothing is gratuitous. Police procedurals don’t get any better than this.

The other books in the series are: No Other Darkness, Tastes Like Fear, Quieter Than Killing and Come and Find Me. A 6th book is due out in 2019.

 

The One by John Marrs

A DNA test to find your perfect partner? Would you? What if you were already with someone? This book follows five people who have taken the test to find their soul mate. Twists and turns aplenty as their journeys continue along the emotional roller-coasters. It’s a clever premise for a book that poses some real moral and ethical questions with drama and brilliant plotting. No spoilers here – you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

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© Catherine Williams, Chapter One Book Production