There are millions of books in the world, and you’ll never be able to read all of them. Why waste your time reading books you’re not interested in? If you spend your time reading the books you think you should read (but won’t necessarily enjoy), you might miss out on the ones that you want to read. There’s nothing wrong with reading the books you think you should read, or the books that will make you feel more well-read, either. But it’s totally up to you.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” – Haruki Murakami. This is one of my favorite quotes about reading, and it is completely true. Read what speaks to you, and it will help you become your own person.
Reading is personal. Whether you are reading for your own enjoyment or to educate yourself, you probably have a good idea of what you’ll like, and it might not be the same as what speaks to other people. If there’s a super popular book you don’t think you’ll like, you don’t need to read it.
Books can shape who you are, and you should decide how. This kind of ties in with #2, but I strongly believe reading can affect who you are as a person. You should be the one choosing how and why. Whether you read diverse books to experience a different worldview and gain understanding or books of a certain genre to inspire your own creativity, that’s entirely up to you.
Only you know what you can handle. There can be a lot of pressure to read bestsellers, or books everyone else seems to be reading. But if you know you’re not going to be able to deal with graphic murder or mentions of rape (and I don’t blame you), you really don’t need to read Gone Girl. Go ahead, read that YA contemporary book instead. I won’t judge you.
There is no one book everyone will like. And wouldn’t it be boring if everyone liked all of the same things? Just because your best friend or your mother hated a book you’re interested in doesn’t mean you will, too. If you think you might enjoy it, read it anyway. And vice versa: you don’t have to read your friend’s favorite novel if it doesn’t appeal to you.
Being picky isn’t a bad thing. Don’t be a book snob – which, admittedly, I have been guilty of in the past – but if you personally only want to read Pulitzer Prize winners, that’s your prerogative. If you know you only enjoy campy thrillers, then don’t think you have to branch out into literary fiction because it’s “more respectable”. Read the all the campy thrillers you can get your hands on. I enjoy reading widely, but don’t feel like that’s something you have to do. Who is really going to care if you only read regency romances for the rest of your life?
Forcing yourself to read can result in a slump, and no one wants that. Don’t put yourself in a reading slump because you had to finish that one book you weren’t really into. First, you can always come back to it later when you’re in the mood, and, second, who says you need to read it anyway? Not finishing books is fine (I just have to keep telling myself that). And taking breaks to read something else, or not read anything at all, is perfectly okay too. You don’t have to read anything (says the girl with a masters in English who has never finished all the assigned books for a single class). Reading shouldn’t feel like a chore. (That said, don’t do what I did – do your homework and the assigned reading.)
Rereading is a great thing. I mean, if you read nothing but the same book over and over, I might suggest something new. But if you want to read Little Women every Christmas, or your favorite guilty pleasure book every time you’re on a break from school, go for it! I love rereading books because I usually discover something new about them, and, if a significant amount of time has passed, I’ve found that I view books differently than I did when I was younger. Also, I read so much that I rarely remember entire plots anymore – my brain cannot hold that amount of information – so sometimes, books can seem completely new again. Don’t feel like you have to just read new books. If you feel like returning to an old favorite, do it.
It’s so much less stressful. This year, I decided not to stick to any goals and to just read whatever I’m in the mood for. The result: I finished nine books in the first ten days of 2018. When I’m motivated to read books, I fly through them, and enjoy them so much more. Recently, I picked up a book, read a few pages, and realized I wasn’t in the mood for it just then. So I put it down and read something I ended up loving instead. And I am so much happier.