Friday, September 20, 2013

10 Tips on Getting in More Classic Film Reading

I hear a lot of people say that they don’t read classic film related books or don’t read enough of them because they don’t have time. This is an issue for all of us really. We lead busy lives and it’s difficult to get a movie in sometimes let alone a whole book!

As you can tell by my Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge and my many book reviews on this blog, reading classic film books is incredibly important to me. I try my best to fit it into my life because I want to learn. There is so much to learn and even with all the books I’ve read already, I feel like I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. I know there is so much more out there and my insatiable curiosity won’t let me rest. However, even with my own self-motivation, I still struggle.

Here are ten tips that have helped me get more reading in. I use almost all of them on a regular basis (I have to get better at #10!). I find that I need as much motivation as possible to get in all the reading I want to do. And even then I wish I could read more. Some of these tips might help you, some might not. Look through the list and see if there are any that might help you get in more reading.

 1. Read what you want – I came up with the idea of a Summer Reading challenge instead of a book club because I wanted to people to read what they wanted instead of being assigned something. Don’t pick up a book you think you should read, pick up something you know you want to read. It can be a book about your favorite actor, actress or director or about a genre you love.

2. Challenge yourself – Make goals. Whether it’s to read 6 books in 3 months or to get that one book you’ve been reading for a long time finished by next week. You can even set page goals. For example, make a small goal to finish 100 pages of your book by the end of the day. I know this all makes reading sound like a chore. It really isn’t. Reading is a joy but it comes with effort. And it's more difficult these days with all the distractions. Our attention spans have become shorter. Reading a book will help you work on your attention span and you’ll feel accomplished after each book. Also, if you have an hour to devote to reading and you'll find you'll get advance more pages in an hour straight of reading than an hour's worth of reading in little bits. However, if little snippets of time is all you have then that’s better than nothing.

3. Keep track of your reading – I like to use a website like Goodreads. There is also LibraryThing, All Consuming and a few others. I keep track of books I’m currently reading, books I've read in the past, and how many books I want to read in a year (Goodreads has a cool tracking widget for that). You can also keep an offline journal or keep track of your reading on your blog if you have one. You can do full reviews or small ones to keep track of your thoughts on what you’ve read.

4. Find motivation – Read book reviews by other bloggers or readers, learn about new books coming out, take a look at the book section on TCM’s website, sign up for e-newsletters from your favorite publishers, talk to friends online and offline about what they are reading, etc. I find that talking to people about books or learning about them on and offline really encourages me to read more.

 5. Keep a book by your side constantly – Right now I’m reading Room 1219: The Life of Fatty Arbuckle, the Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe, and the Scandal That Changed Hollywood. It goes everywhere with me. It’s often found in my car, at my desk at work, in my purse, on my nightstand, on the coffee table by the couch and even in the bathroom sometimes. I read it in the morning when I wake up, at night before I go to sleep and I even read it during my lunch break. Bring a book with you when you travel or go to appointments. You’ll have a lot of down time and you can get some good reading in that way. In fact, if you have a lot of travel time ahead of you, such as a long flight or bus/train trip, then bring TWO books. When you get bored of one, switch to the other. And on that note...

6. Alternate your reading – Do you find yourself overwhelmed with a particular book no matter how much you enjoy reading it? Or is the book your reading a bit of a slog to get through? You don’t have to be faithful to one book at a time. Have a few going at once. I almost always have 3 or 4 books going at the same time. I also read young adult and children’s books for work. So sometimes I’ll alternate between my classic film book and one lighter book I’m reading for my job. Or I’ll alternate between two classic film books. I also like reading general non-fiction, history, classic literature and some contemporary fiction. I try to mix things up and it keeps things interesting.

7. Reward yourself – I remember one time I was so happy that I had finished a particularly long classic film book that was chock full of just so much information, that I rewarded myself with a day of luxury. On that day, I did beauty treatments, went shopping and watched my favorite films. Your rewards don’t have to encompass entire days. They can be small too! Sometimes I even reward myself with finishing one book by buying another. Just don't reward yourself with cake. Ha!

8. Do active reading – I keep a notebook or a pad of paper and a pen handy to make notes while I'm reading. I write down quotes (with page numbers), trivia bits I liked, things that struck me as interesting, thoughts I had about what was discussed and points maybe I want to include in my review if I’m doing one. This is especially useful when you are reading non-fiction like a biography. If I don't have paper nearby, I'll take notes on my iPhone and I'll even take pictures of quotes from the book that I want to refer to later! If you're reading a book about a specific genre of film, sometimes I stop to go to YouTube or TCM's MediaRoom to watch a trailer, scene, musical number, interview, etc. that was mentioned in the book. Or if I read about a film I haven’t seen yet, I go to Netflix or Classicflix to see if I can rent it. Or I’ll look it up on TCM’s website to see if they are showing it in the future. All of this may increase the time it takes you to finish a book. However, it will make you more absorbed in the reading experience and you'll enjoy it more because you have become an active participant instead of just a passive one.

9. Be realistic – You can’t read all the books in the world. There are so many classic film books out there and more are being published every year. Even though our niche is really specific, there is still a huge variety of books on it. So be picky. As I said before, read what you want. Also, if you have a super busy schedule, be realistic about what you can fit in. You might want to read 100 books in a year but if 10 or 20 is more realistic stick with that.

10. It’s okay to put a book down – I should take my own advice because I rarely do this. If you had high hopes for a book and your reading experience has been nothing but a big disappointment, then give yourself permission to stop reading the book . There are a lot of books out there that you will enjoy. It doesn’t make sense to waste your precious time on something that you just don’t like.


  1. Great tips! With books, I'm more open than with films: I read almost any kind. And I always carry one in my purse. Soon I'll start reading one about Paulette Goddard and in the future I'll review it at my blog.

  2. Great tips, Raquel! I feel so motivated! :)

  3. VERY inspirational post, Raquel!! #8 is especially useful!


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