023 // The Reading Ritual

I’m so proud of myself for knocking 5 books off my 2019 reading challenge and I’m powering through the 6th as we speak. Of course, two were already half started, two were graphic novels, and one was the easiest read ever, but still, five books already! I’ve never read so much, so consistently, for so long before. All my other resolutions might be in the toilet but on this one, I have exceeded all my expectations, so far.

Whenever I start a new book, I go through this weird little ritual. I sharpen a new pencil (henceforth be known as my “book pencil”) to take notes in the margins, underline my favorite passages, and to circle names or other items to research later.

I choose a bookmark that “feels right” from my drawer of brightly colored postcards, stickers, scrap paper and tags I’ve saved for this purpose. I get a sticky note out and place it at the “endnotes” or wherever I can stop reading, which is often many, many pages before the last page. Then I do a bit of math.

I calculate how many total pages there in the main text to read (minus those endnotes, or the sample of the author’s next book, or whatever else is tacked on at the end) and divide that by how quickly I’d like to finish the book, usually between 7 and 10 days. The answer is how many pages I plan to read per day. I get another sticky note out to mark this page daily so I can read without thinking about it.

I mark the book as “currently reading” on Goodreads just before I start so that every night when I put the book down I can update the app with my progress. Then and only then can I begin reading and always with the introduction, the preface, the forward, or any notes from the author first before the main text. I do not consider those parts to be “skippable”.

It’s a lot, I know, and I know it’s weird, but sometimes a book is a conversation and like any other between two people you both have to be open and ready to interact, share ideas, and even disagree. This process allows me to establish a strong and immediate connection to every book I pick up. The ritual gives me permission to take every book I read very seriously and facilitates an easier immersion into the author’s world and mind.

These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren