Summer reading

It’s summer and I have been seeing a bunch of articles, blog posts, memes and more talking about how to get your summer reading done. It’s probably an American school thing since in Belgium we don’t really have summer reading. When you’ve passed all of your exams, you don’t have anything to do over summer. When you need to take a retest or do some extra work, you’ll get a specific assignment for that course. There are no mandatory reading lists. Of course, if you are in college or university, it can be a good idea to thumb through your new course books or already get some of the mandatory reading for the next school year done. But I thought I’d discuss it anyway.

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For example, I found this article on wikiHow: How to Prepare for Summer Reading. It’s a guide that will help you plan for your reading, both mandatory and for fun. In short, there are 9 steps:

  1. Create a book list
  2. Buy/borrow/download the books
  3. Schedule when you’ll be reading what
  4. Determine your reading style (with music in the background, completely quiet surroundings, lots of light, mood lighting, …)
  5. Read in a good environment with little distractions
  6. Stick to your schedule
  7. Talk about what you’re reading with friends and family
  8. If possible, read with friends or in group
  9. Reward yourself when things are going well

I mean, what? I was along for the ride as far as steps 1 and 1 go. But who in the world schedules reading when it’s for fun? Obligating yourself to read a specific book at a specific time takes all the fun out of it. Yes, you can schedule reading time in general, but not what you’ll be reading. You never know what you will be in the mood for to read! I am usually reading several books at the same time, depending on what time of day it is, where I will be reading, if I’m able to focus a lot or only a little, how I’m feeling, …

And then we get to step 4: “Determine your reading style.” OK, this article was probably meant mostly for students who have obligatory summer reading lists, but even then… Who doesn’t know their reading style? Everyone has to read books at school at some point, so this is not very likely to be the first time. Also, people usually have very different reading styles. I, myself, can read anytime, anywhere and every which way. I read mostly while I’m on public transport, where I will go for lighter books that require less concentration (which is why I’ve been reading and reviewing a lot of romance lately). But I also love reading at home. At such times, I will choose a book that requires more concentration and that I really can get into. I will start in one position and read until it hurts, switch to another position and then the cycle continues. I read a lot in bed because it’s easy to support my neck properly. I’m not a big fan of reading in sofas because I’ll always start contorting my neck and it’ll hurt after a while. I do have an amazing rocking chair with just the right pillows that I love to read in. I’ll rock myself a little in the beginning, but when the rocking stops, that’s when I’m really into the story.

Now, Step 5 is an obvious one. As I said, I can read anywhere and everywhere. I can get into a story pretty easily so that usually doesn’t pose any problems. But books that I really want to get into, I’ll only read at home. I won’t say more about step 6, because I think I already explained it clearly why I think reading by schedule is bad.

And then we get to steps 7, 8 and 9. I also love talking about books with family and friends (or the internet in general when it comes to my blog). I have a few friends who I can really geek out with over books, characters, fandoms, … My guest-blogger @thamesgia is, in fact, one of those people. The millions of conversations we’ve had about Harry Potter, The Vampire Diaries, books in general, … Amazing memories! I’ve never really done Step 8. I’m a rather fast reader so really reading together would only annoy me. Reading a book at the same time as friends, I’ve never really done consciously either. Unless you count The Cursed Child, but that was more by accident than by design. And finally, rewarding yourself for reading? For me, reading is a reward in and of itself! But then again, maybe that’s just me :). How is it for you guys? Let me know in the comments! And I wish you a lot of fun reading and many great books for the summer!

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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