Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Time to Read

I got a bit of a surprise this week when my college kid told me she was reading The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub; because of her current class workload (including a hefty course in western lit) I thought that she didn't have time to read for pleasure. Then she mentioned that her boyfriend had given her the book because it's his favorite, and it made a little more sense (and now I know the boyfriend is a serious reader -- gave Mama here a moment of utter joy.)

As busy as work/home/life is it's easy to assume people don't have time to read. I used to feel apologetic when I give someone outside my circle a book because I bought into that myth, but the truth is most people will make time to read a book -- as long as they're curious enough or think it's worth it. Thus getting people properly motivated to crack those covers and dive in is the real trick.

I read a lot about books online, and the one thing that captures my attention 99% of the time is humor. If you can employ something fun (a cute video, a tongue-in-cheek post, a list of laughable points) to get me interested in your book, I'm usually motivated to invest. For this reason I also frequently use humor when I recommend other author's books; I know how well it works on me.

Other factors involved in me making time for a book:

Cover art and quotes don't impress me (occupational hazard), but short and very well-written cover copy or a teaser can, as long as there is a strong, substantial hook involved. Has to be pretty tantalizing, though.

Online samples are great motivators, but I think most authors post too many chapters. At most I read only the first page or two of a sample or excerpt, and I don't think I'm alone in this.

Recs from a reliable source are great as long as they've never burned me in the past with a lousy read they've pimped for a publisher or pal. Sources can be anyone in your life -- one of my neighbors is at the top of my trusted rec list because she's never once steered me wrong.

Notoriety can create buzz but I'm kind of contrary when it comes to that; the more notorious and buzzy a book is, the faster I run from it. Interesting and thoughtful discussions about a book work better for me.

Freebies like short stories set in the same universe or part of the story told from a different angle always get my attention because I've used them so often to promote my work, and I'm always intrigued to see what other writers are doing. I like free stuff a lot, too, and a freebie gives me a chance to test-drive the author before I invest. If I don't care for it, I don't get mad because I didn't spend any money on it.

I don't borrow books from anywhere but the library, but if I was more of a dedicated e-reader I'd probably check into the loaner options the e-booksellers offer and swap books with another e-reader pal. Unfortunately my Nook died last summer and I haven't gotten around to replacing it.

What motivates you to make time to read? Let us know in comments.

Image Credit: robynmac


  1. I would say a new book by a favorite author or series (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) really motivates me to read. When a new book is released, I usually grab it up, run to my bedroom and snarf it down.

  2. Usually the author grabs me if I've liked their other work, then the blurb/cover, but I almost always have to read the beginning, either standing at the store or on Amazon. I used to really count on reviews, but learned the hard way how subjective (misleading?) that is.

    Great boyfriend! The Talisman is my favorite Stephen King book of all time. ;D

  3. I have to make time to read or I get to feeling like a shriveled husk of a person. And I'll read anything when the urge strikes - including ingredient lists on boxes, etc. But when it's time to pick up a new book, though, I look for favorite authors first, and then whatever genre I'm in the mood for, and then whatever might fit in the time I have.

  4. Love The Talisman. Still have a copy on my shelf. I enjoy looking at cover art, but really it's the story premise that gets me excited about reading a book. And being able to sift through a few pages of it helps make up my mind.

  5. The "I don't have time to read" excuse ticks me off. I worked full-time, raised four close-in-age kids by myself, spent plenty of time on family and friends and other hobbies, and STILL had lots of time to read!

    First thing I ask parents who are whining about having difficulty getting their kids to read... "When do YOU read?"
    The answer is one of the following.
    "Oh, I don't'."
    "I don't have time to."
    "I don't like to."
    "After the kids are in bed."
    "On my lunch break."
    "Only one or two books a year, when the kids are at camp / at grandparent's / etc."

    Never, EVER have I heard any of these parents give the correct answer that would have solved their "problem" before it started:
    "Oh, all the time, even in front of the kids! If I have a couple minutes to spare that I'm just waiting, I'm reading."

  6. When I was a lit major, I found that I HAD to read something that wasn't in my required reading for class. Despite the fact that I was lit-picking out metaphors and symbolism 'til I thought I would die, I often went to the bookstore to pick out my own reads because if I didn't read something for my own enjoyment my brain would explode beneath the weight of the English Canon.

    Though the best required read ever for a lit class was Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. Finished my reading homework in one day!