By Beatriz Neves - Staff Writer
It is common knowledge that reading is one of the best habits anyone can have. It develops your vocabulary, improves writing skills, and keeps the mind active. However, no one is born a good reader. Since starting to read regularly is starting a new habit, the first step is always the hardest one. Besides, for those who only read when they are obligated to, reading is often perceived as an unpleasant exercise. Still, as hard as it may sound, I have a few suggestions that can make this practice a lot easier.
The first tip is to pick the right edition and translation of a book. Normally, people don’t care about the edition, but contrary to the cliché, a good cover can make a classical and complex book less scary and more exciting to read. Also, when the book is old, there will inevitably be editions with outdated translations. This means that the language will be less accessible and that it might become tedious to read.
Doing a little research to find the newest edition and translation doesn’t take much time and will definitely help your reading.
Secondly, it is important to resist the temptation to look up every unknown word in the dictionary. Obviously, sometimes it is hard to follow when the language is challenging, but reaching for the dictionary will disturb your reading and make it more difficult to immerse yourself into the story. Try and make inferences on what the hard words mean and you should be good to go!
Also, everyone should keep in mind that it is impossible to be familiar with every setting a story has. If you are having trouble visualizing the setting, you can look for images that show that world. On the other hand, many readers prefer to fill in the descriptive gaps by themselves. It’s up to you to find what works for you!
The fear of spoilers also can affect reading. Some like to enter the story without knowing anything about it and do not read any text related to the book, but that could lead to confusion surrounding the plot. Reading the preface will not give away any key part of the story and it can give an excellent base and introduction for the rest of the book. The story becomes a lot easier and more interesting with the knowledge of who the author is, what their intention was and the time period in which the piece was written.
For someone who doesn’t read regularly, it is critical to start with smaller and more action-packed books. The story needs to be interesting enough to make it addictive. For someone who associates reading with boredom, the first book must hook the reader from page one. My top five recommendations for new readers are Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, The Girl on the Train by Paul Hawkins, Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway, and The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde.
Accomplishing New Year’s resolutions to read forty, thirty or even ten books in a year is not as impossible as it might seem. A good reader is simply someone who learns how to dive into a story, fall in love with the characters, dream with their eyes open and travel through time and space without leaving home.