Exercises In Mindful Reading

I’m trying to be more mindful when I’m reading again.

Over the last few years, I’d fallen into the habit of reading purely for pleasure (losing myself in fiction, poetry, and memes) or reading to learn new things and improve my skills for my day job (also enjoyable, in a different way). I’d find myself just sailing through narratives or reducing pieces to bite-sized pieces of facts I can incorporate into my thought processes.

And while my brain thinks just the same when I do these things, it’s stopped chewing and savoring the significance of the stuff I read. It’s not bad that I do it. It’s just that it’s made me impatient for the next thing, the future that always looks better before you get to it.

What I mean to say is I rarely stay present for the present anymore, especially when it comes to reading.

I really suck
I really do.

It’s part of the reason why I signed up to be a beta reader for BookBed Fictory. One of the things I used to do as a teen (about 15 years or so ago, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!) was read other people’s work and really take the time to evaluate them:

  • Did I enjoy it? (Important question)
  • Why? (REALLY important question)
  • How could it improve? (Helpful AF question)

Beta reading stories for Fictory will push me back into the mindful reading state of mind that I used to really get into. Its added bonus, of course, is that it forces me to really think about the stuff I write too. Will readers enjoy this? Why will they enjoy it? Can I write this in a way that will make them enjoy it MORE?

Will It Blend Writer Edition

The long and short of it is it’s a great mental exercise if you want to be more present, which in turn is absolutely helpful if you want to be a better writer than you were before.

It’s also great when you’re a die-hard reader who wants to find more books to read without having to rely on “if you liked this, try reading this” types of articles on the internet. If you pay attention to what you like and dislike, it’ll be much easier to shortlist stuff for your TBR list and minimize the risk of getting a book you’ll regret spending money on.

It’s happened to me so many times, guys. So many, many times.

I’m not saying I’ve mastered this, by the way. I, like most bookworms, am easily distracted by shiny new things, which is why I’m still waffling over whether I’ll go to the MIBF this weekend (are you guys going? I hope you have fun!). I just know there will be books over there that I’ll want to buy for the sake of buying, without taking my established preferences into consideration. But then there are folks I want to support at the event, so…

Anyway, my real point is that I’m trying to re-establish an old reading habit I’d lost when the years piled on so I can be reacquainted with myself, and I believe it’s a habit that can help anyone. All it takes to read mindfully, after all, are a few simple questions.

What are you guys reading right now? Are you enjoying it? What parts do you like? What elements or tropes are a must-have for your reading material? What do you avoid reading? Let me know!

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