The Big 5 I Need for a Successful Year of Reading, by Dylan Dartnell

  1. Reading Goals

It all starts here! Whether we are deciding to read more of a particular genre or to read more widely, to read more of the classics or to read more Australian works, we need to set the goal and keep accountable. Goodreads is good for tracking the number of books we’ve read and something I use to map out my reading over the year. Another worthy idea is to join a community of readers who are aiming for the same goal. This year, I have taken on the charge to join #Dymocks52Challenge where I have committed to reading (and possibly reviewing) a title every week! It’s a mammoth task but who doesn’t love a challenge?

  1. Make the time to read

Of all of my strengths, of all of my talents, of all of my powers, nothing compares to the might and durability of which I can procrastinate. If I converted that energy into something more productive, I have little doubt that I could establish an empire that would last millennia—but here we are: trapped in a generation where I am caught between choosing avocado to accompany breakfast or building my first home (some empire).

Nonetheless, this year is about intentionality; becoming the most productive and efficient person I can because I have reading goals I want to achieve THIS year. So, I’m using simple techniques, such as time-blocking, to ensure I am making the most of my time and limiting the likelihood of wasting 45 minutes in the depths of Instagram, only to arrive at Cher’s personal page because “I wonder what she is up to?”. Instead, I block out the first 45 minutes of my morning to read. I pour myself a coffee, set the timer, turn airplane mode on, and go hell for leather. By 8am, I’ve collected seven horcruxes and thwarted the darkest wizard of all time; delivered a fine piece of jewellery to Mordor; and have returned from the worlds existing beyond my wardrobe.

  1. Disable the phone

I know what you’re thinking: “airplane mode is a genius idea”. Many of the highly-motivated people who inspire me to be better insist on setting their phones to Do Not Disturb before they go to sleep and don’t deactivate it until well into the next day. I’m trying to drive some distance between my phone and, until I get to a place where I am using it to work for me, I need to be more intentional about when and how I use it. Eliminate the distraction and smash those goals!

  1. Setting

My reading nook is as important to me as the setting in our favourite tales. Most mornings, it’s the patio I retreat to; overlooking the garden as the rose bushes and I absorb the rising sun. The birds begin their chatter and the neighbour’s dog trots about their yard with a heaving breath and the jangle of its collar. Yet, it all seems still. The world around me begins to dissolve and the world in front of me materialises. I become a foreigner—an immigrant—in a land that not only welcomes me but insists I stay until I have had my fill of food and drink, and my rest.

  1. The Vortex

I call this The Vortex and my reading time is incomplete without it. It’s the mark of my favourite novels and the trust I can bestow upon my favourite authors. I lose track of the time, the temperature of my coffee, and the diminishing level of elixir that remains in the mug. The alarm snaps me back to my reality and without notice I’ve read the best part of 100 pages. I’ve reached an age where I abandon books if I am clambering to build momentum. In other words, if the language is contrived or the characters too predictable, my relationship with the book won’t last. Usually, it takes two to three pages to shake off the rust and get going but if I’m not hitting my stride at page five, we have a problem. My TBR list is too long to waste time and my excitement to devour the latest and best of Australian literature is too overwhelming to delay.

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