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Book-reading tips

In senior high I was reading a book a day most days, maybe not every day but say more than fifty books per year. Then years of screens and blogs happened and then I found myself being unable to read books, a few years back.

Here’s how I made it back to being able to read. Now, this is for focus issues, not dyslexia or vision issues, both of which are their own things.

I’m gonna give two methods; you don’t need to combine them, you can try either and the first is the most hardcore for when the second doesn’t cut it.

Method 1

Take a piece of paper, in the beginning I needed to use a monocolored, preferably white, piece of paper but now I can use my fingers/hand or a scrap paper torn from an ad flyer or whatever. Use it to keep track of where you are on the page and drag it down the page as you read. I read quickly so I’d be dragging the paper quickly.

It’ll happen that you lose focus and drag the paper without reading. The point of the paper is that it’ll help you discover those moments much faster, and get back to it much faster. Don’t beat yourself up; doing this and finding yourself doing it and getting back on track is part of the process. Instead, (if anything), congratulate yourself for noticing what you did and get back to it. It’ll happen less and less the more you do it.

Method 2

A monolithic prose page can be very samey and everything can blend together like a big blurry snowstorm. It’d be great if the pages had shapes and colors and different identation and margin sizes to give variation to help your jittery, wandering eyes focus. A textured border along the side is almost as good. And you know what is almost as good as that? Holding up your hand next to the page. It’s weird how well this works.


Now, I’ve been back to reading a ton of books for the last several years and I don’t use either method on the reg. This “I wanna read books again” trip was probably ten years ago for me, in my early thirties. (Ouch, accidentally self-doxed my aged there.)

I occassionally find myself, especially on e-ink, “Whoops, I’ve been paging without reading again. Time to go back and redo those pages”, but it’s no biggie.

But every now and then I do have one of those days when my brain is absolutely mush, and the “hand next to page” method 2 is all I need. Or, it’s both mush-brain and a noisy environment, like reading on the metro, in which case “drag a paper” method 1 is fantastic.