I used to read every day. I studied languages and while I enjoyed the linguistics part of reading, it was really the literature part that I fell in love with. The millions of stories, characters and travelling to places you’ve never been. Growing up, I also used to lose myself in the different worlds I would read about and eventually go on to create some of these myself.
I am also a self-proclaimed hoarder, and hoarding books are my absolute favourite. Since moving to the Western Cape, I’ve had to put most of my books into storage, but a lot of the books I have are collector’s pieces that I’ve been collecting since my varsity days.
I recently did a bit of an audit on my hobbies and realised that I spend a massive amount of time binging series, playing mobile games and aimlessly scrolling Pinterest. I tried to find a book around the house and realised that I haven’t invested in one in quite some time. I, therefore, went on a journey to get myself back into reading and this is my unbarred account of how I got my reading groove back.
One of my colleagues is an avid Audible fan. In fact, he and I took a road trip a while back where we listened to the much talked about Verity that has the book community buzzing. You can read all about his take on the horror-romance here. He is also the reason I tried Audible in the first place.
I spend quite some time on the road, both for my job and in a personal capacity, and to me, there is nothing more soothing than listening to something educational or entertaining.
So when I first decided to give it a go, I must say, it was a bit difficult to understand how it all works. First off, you get a 30 day trial (I fricken love trials!), so you do have the opportunity to try this audiobook thing out before committing. Thereafter, I subscribed to the Gold Monthly package. So, you just head to their homepage and sign up – I already had an Amazon account, so it just made it even easier. They have a monthly fee of $14,95 (around R213,96) which entitles you to one credit monthly.
A credit is what you use to buy your audiobooks with. Translation: every month you get a book. You can also pick two Audible Originals every month and if you are unsatisfied with anything that you have purchased, you can return it! If you want to listen to more than that, you have the option of buying the specific book you want as an audiobook at a 30% discount, or you can purchase three more credits at $35,88 (roughly R513,49, which is around R171,16 a book).
And yes, you can get the latest books with these credits.
I got the new Toni Morrison a few days after its release, and have already pre-ordered Stan Lee’s Alliances: A Trick of Light. Loving an audiobook is based on a very delicate balance between a good story, a good voice artist and the attention you are willing to pay at that moment. I find myself often engrossed, while other times I tend to check out.
The Audible app on iOS works quite well and even has a driving mode where the buttons are bigger and easier to press so you don’t have to struggle. A book can be anything from half an hour to sixteen hours or even more. I currently have nine books in my library and the entire app is around 878 MB big. I download my books when I’m connected to WiFi and then enjoy them offline later.
Goodreads & Facebook Groups
So Goodreads has been around for a while now and they’ve really refined how their site and app is used. While I used to troll their site looking for my favourite quotes from favourite authors, I now mostly go there for the reviews and groups. From the South African Book Lovers club to the ‘Lees Afrikaans’ group and Addicted to YA club, I’ve found my book recommendations from these men and women from across the globe for the last couple of years. It is also a great place to vet a book before trying it out for yourself – I’ve seen popular books have more than 10 000 reviews, so it’s definitely worth having a look.
If you’ve not yet discovered the joy of Facebook groups, let me enlighten you!
In a Facebook world filled with loads of noise, I’ve found groups to be the thing I’ve loved about Facebook since the very beginning. The community engagement seems to have fallen through the cracks the last couple of years, though. I used to religiously follow the group ‘Pageturners by Buzzfeed’, but they had to close the group due to capacity issues. Luckily someone took initiative and started the group ‘Page Turners’ and thanks to this group of just over 10 000 members, I’ve found loads of new books, as well as a community of book lovers.
If you, like me, struggle to limit your screen time, then the app Bookly is for you. Every evening at just after 7 pm, the app reminds me to sit down and read. Available on iOS and Android, this free app helps you track your books, read more and improve your reading over time. What is really cool is that you can scan your book which the app then adds to your library and thereafter you can track to whom you lend them, as well as add favourite quotes and thoughts. They also gamify the process by giving you rewards for reaching your goals and reading regularly.
I still love physical books. I don’t think that this is something that’ll ever change. I’ve owned a Kindle but just found the physical book to be the very best. When I was younger, I used to buy a massive amount of books on kalahari.com (which, of course, now is called Takealot) because they had the craziest specials. I’ve found several awesome book specials on Takealot’s Daily Deals over the years, so be sure to keep an eye out.
Another great hack, especially if you are into older books (and not-as-easy-to-find Afrikaans publications), is to have a look on Bid or Buy.
I’ve found the most obscure books on there and I’ve paid peanuts for them. People buy and sell on the website every day, so it is a great idea to check in every now and then. Just keep in mind to look out for verified sellers and people with reviews.
I’ve found that a great way to keep my appetite for reading alive is to buy industry magazines. The Harvard Business Review is a favourite of mine, as well as 1843 by The Economist. Both of these publications speak to issues relating to the industry I work in (advertising and management), but they also contain light reading. In the case of 1843 (which has a big lifestyle focus) the visual imagery that goes into the magazine is amazing and it makes it such a pleasure to read that I cannot wait for every new edition. And if you are a regular traveller like me, it is much lighter than a book in your backpack!