Why Haven't I Finished It Yet? Or... Getting Past a Reading Block

I love reading. This year I have worked to increase both the enjoyment I get from reading as well as up the ante on the quality of books with Shannon Reads "Those Books" which I started back in May. Most of the books I have flown through, but the book I'm currently reading has continually blocked me for a few months and I was stumped as to why. After thinking about what was going on and trying a few things out, I think I've cracked the issues of the blocks. Here are the challenges I identified, the solutions I came up with and what I've learned along the way.

It's a Physical Book

Although I haven't had my Kobo that long, I did not realize that I had completely adapted to reading via eReader. I had cultivated the habit of reading via Kobo which is light-weight, allows me to read lying down completely and takes up little space. A physical book, or as I like to call it, a tree book felt so completely different. Trying to hold a trade paperback above my head wasn't comfortable, for my hands or arms and if I was sleepy then...well... gravity happened (book-to-face-plant). This was definitely a barrier to reading the book.

The Fix: I mostly had to come to terms with the fact that things have changed. I considered buying the book in eBook format, but I specifically picked out this physical edition of the book and it was the first physical book I had purchased in a long time. All of this made me sad, but I had to decide to either find a way to read it comfortable or buy it eBook format, and I decided to trudge on with finding a comfortable way to do so. That goes hand in hand with the next stumper...

I Wanted to Take Notes While Reading

The fact I wanted to do this really surprized me. I used to take notes when I watched a movie, but I hadn't taken notes while reading a book since high school. Actually, I'm not even convinced I took notes while reading books in high school. Surprized or not, I wanted to take notes for this book. There were things I didn't want to forget about the book, mostly because in general I enjoyed it but there were certain things I couldn't let pass without raising an eyebrow and I didn't want to glaze over them. I also wanted to keep a list of the new words I encountered while reading so I could look up their definitions.

The Fix:
Knowing the issue was wanting to take notes made this the most clear cut of the barriers. The solution was simply to find a way to take notes while reading. It took a few steps, the first was finding a notebook that worked for me (a very hard-backed full-page lined notebook), along with a place to keep it (on my nightstand). I got this far in the solution and go stalled again, which led me to realize there was another barrier: comfort. I had tried sitting at a desk and also lying down in bed but neither worked for me. I wanted to take notes, but then realized I needed to comfortable to take notes comfortably.

The Second Part of the Fix: Now I sit up in bed propped up with 2 pillows, and have my notebook to the right hand side and that feels just right. For the notes themselves, I use the top half of the page I jot down the new words I've encountered and then on the bottom of the page I leave for quotes, or notes on how I feel about what's going on, if something doesn't make sense, or if something is particularly moving.

Extra bonus on this one, is that my cat likes to visit me when I sit like this.

I Felt "Behind"

Although the book is part of the "Those Books", I started reading the book back in August for an August challenge. I didn't finish it in August. That challenge was extended until the end of September, and I don't think I even picked up the book in September. I felt horrible. I was so happy to blend the Those Books with an external challenge and then it ended up feeling like a total fail.

The Fix: I had to let go of the fact I didn't meet the goal I had set. I could have left it at that, but I wanted to have a finish line to focus on so I made a new deadline for myself. This book is a little more involved than what I usually read, so I wanted to make sure I had enough time to meet that goal while still enjoying reading at a pace I could take notes for. To check, I read what I estimated to be the daily reading pace and set a timer to see how long it took to read those pages. I made sure I wasn't speed-reading, and that I was taking notes at a leisurely pace. That turned out to be 25 pages in 45 minutes, and to keep it not stressful I am giving myself an hour a day until the goal end date. I even did a countdown calendar. Because who doesn't love countdown calendars?

All in all, I am feeling good about the changes I have made. It took me a while to realize that I wanted to read this book in a different way than other books, so a fair amount of shifting my habits was required to get me to where I wanted to be. This new set up and process won't be how I read every book, but for titles that are more challenging or engaging.

It's great to have options and it's wild to find out that I have different reading styles for different books. Of course the real test of this habit change will be if I actually finish the book by my deadline of October 30, 2014! Not too long to wait to see if I do.

When you find you are not meeting your goal, try looking at what is blocking then look for solutions. Test out the solutions and see if they solve the block. Try it out!

Want to hear more about what I'm reading? Check out my YouTube channel or find me on GoodReads.


Suzie Ridler said…
Shannon, that's absolutely fascinating! I was intensely reading the challenges and inspired by the fixes you came up with. Interesting that one book was such a different experience for you. And that you want to take notes! It's true, the physical weight of a book is a factor for me too and you have come up with a great system and I love that Mr. Man likes it too. What a cute photo.

I am so glad you came up with a system and countdown that seems to work for you Shannon. Yay!
Shannon said…
Thanks so much Suzie! It took me a while to realize I was even having an issue with reading the book, and then as I went on there were several challenges to overcome (no wonder it took so long!). Isn't it crazy that the weight of the book can make a difference? Sheesh. One of the hard truths, but better to deal with it than not!

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