Photo by Eugenio Mazzone on Unsplash

However you read, keep reading.

I grew up in a very bookish household. We would head to the library, rain, wind, snow or sun and pick up anywhere from 10–12 books each, my sisters and I. We would then head home to a blissfully quiet afternoon, absorbed in our stories and laughing at the conversations we read.

I quickly read through the YA fiction sections, and then moved onto autobiographies, then comics, then children’s fiction and then adult fiction. The library wasn’t very big, and my worldview was quite limited, so books were a huge part of my learning.

In highschool and college, where reading was often an assignment, I got burnt out. I had to step back from reading for pleasure in an effort to preserve my relationship with it. I love reading, and I continued to read in highschool and college, but at a much more lax pace.

A few years after graduating, reading came to find me again. As I settled into a routine at work, found my time to be ready to read again, I got a library card, joined the Storygraph and started reading again. I now read anywhere from 25–51 books in a year, and that doesn’t include miles of web comics, fanfiction or comic books that I forget to chart in my readings.

In the last three years, however, I’ve greatly branched out from my typical reading medium of paperbacks. Out of the 31 books I’ve read this year, more than 20% have been audiobooks. This is in part due to traveling more, and wanting to branch out from music or playlists that can become overstimulating. So, I read. I read because I listen.

The secret to listening as reading

As a reader, I tend to speed read and skim. As a listener, my mind tends to wander and daydream between important plot bits. I read and listen in much the same way, which is why I’ve found audiobooks to be such an underrated tool to continue reading in my spare time when my eyes may be busy with work or chores. The secret to successful audiobook listening in my case is to listen to books I have a genuine interest in, listen for the parts that are meaningful, and always listen to it at 1.5 or 2x speed.

As an ADHD’er, my brain tends to skip past small filler words to bigger ones to connect ideas. Reading and listening often feel like watching my neurons leapfrog between bigger chunks of words to grasp the meaning faster, although sometimes inaccurately. I speak much faster than I read, and I can read much faster than I write. Which all of the above, is pretty fast.

When listening to an audiobook, I encourage you to to play around with speed settings until it’s as fast as the narrator in your head would be if you were reading. If that doesn’t make sense to you, skip it lol.

Read the cool stuff for fun

Being “bookish” and a steady reader are traits and habits I was instilled with as a child. I didn’t know other people had to work to enjoy books, or find books to read. When I did begin to understand this, I became much more sensitive and attuned to lending out books I thought would meet people where they were at. I encouraged friends to start with small poetry books, or short YA fiction stories full of magic and dragons and adventure.

Reading doesn’t have to be boring, and if you want to enjoy it more, start with reading the shit you actually get excited about first.

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Liz Brinks

Liz Brinks

Hey, I’m Liz Brinks (they/them) I’m a queer gender-non-conforming writer, business coach & cat-parent (@itsjuustliz everywhere) based out of Wisconsin!