After 15 years of teaching here is something I know: You will not be the same reader in one month. In six months the changes will be even more striking.
You might not notice it at first, but as you read more books in English, your language will change.
You'll be a better reader. You'll find yourself using new words in your conversations. . .
What do you need to do to see improvement when you read books in English? It’s pretty simple.
Keep. Reading. Every. Day.
And get a stack of books.
Want the benefits of a consistent reading habit in English? Get a stack of books.
You need more than one book.
You’ll need a whole stack of them.
Reading one book won’t transform your English anymore than learning to play one song on the piano will make you a musician.
You’ll need a reading habit.
If you already have a serious reading habit in English or another language, you know what I mean.
You might even find you feel naked without a book on hand.
So do you have a stack of books? Or can you picture yourself with one?
Maybe they’re piling up beside your favorite chair. Maybe they’re hanging out on your desk.
Or maybe you have them lined up on an orderly bookshelf--if you’re the tidy type.
If you are the tidy type, I can feel you judging me, by the way.
5 ways a stack of books makes your English reading habit stronger
One--if you have a stack of books, you can change books easily.
If you get sick or go on vacation or just feel like you’re not enjoying a book, you can set one book down and pick another one up.
It may seem simple or obvious, but imagine you suddenly find out you’re going to have to be hospitalized and you only have one book to read--the wrong one.
It happened to me, so it could happen to you too!
I found out I’d have to be hospitalized once and I bought the 700 page A People’s History of the United States. But I only got through the first 88 pages.
Never mind if it was a book I had always wanted to read, or if it’s brilliant. It wasn’t the right book for the occasion.
I ended up staring at the green hospital walls. I mean, even that is better than daytime tv. But I could have had 12 hours of reading time!!!
Two: You don’t have to start over “from square one” each time you need to get a new book.
I bet this has happened to you too. You get caught up in a book and binge! You read it all at once without stopping.
And that book was so great it’s hard to think of what to read next.
If you have a stack of books on hand, you don’t have to go online or to the bookshop or library. You don’t have to pick a book from the list of “all the books that have ever, ever been written.”
I can’t emphasise this more--if something is really important to you--like your English reading habit--then make it automatic.
When you have a stack of books, your next book is right there.
Just pick it up and start reading.
Three: Having a stack of book in English will let you experiment and try new things.
- You’ll feel more free to select a variety of books.
- You may pick out a few that seem easier and entertaining.
- You can also grab a few that seem more challenging--for later.
- You might feel more adventurous and try reading a few genres you wouldn’t normally read.
FOUR: You’ll see your progress in English stacking up in front of your eyes.
Maybe you think it doesn’t matter, but tracking your progress is important. Why?
Your reading and your English will improve every day, but the change is incremental. So it’s possible to take your progress for granted.
I’ve seen it in the past in my business English students.
At the beginning of the year they look at you with panic their eyes and tell you they just read an entire article and understood NOTHING.
You can actually see them thinking that they’ll need to come up with a backup plan in case they fail their English exams!
Six months later, when they can read a much harder article in just a few minutes with no frustration, they don’t even remember what it was like when they were starting out.
Your pile of books is a reminder of how far you’ve come.
It will also tell the story of your progress as you start reading different kinds of books. Your first five books, the 10 books you wanted to read in 2017.
And if you’re like me and you think “you are what you read,” then you’ll get to see how far you’ve travelled Not just in English, but as a person.
Five: You’ll come back and read those books again.
If you’ve read my guide to getting started with reading in English, than you may know that I think reading a book more than once is a great thing.
And it’s not just if you’re learning the language.
There are some books that are really worth visiting more than once. You’ll get to experience these book adventures again--but with a really great book, the adventure is never the same!
There is always something you didn’t catch the first time.
And after a few months or years, you’ll see that you’ve grown and that you can see the story with new eyes.
If you’re working on your English reading habit--this is especially true for you. Keep a few of your favorites around--they’ll call to you and ask you to read them again.
Wait, what will I do with all those English books after I’ve read them?
Worried about books taking up too much space in your home? I mean, I am!
My joke at the beginning of this post about not being a tidy person. . .well, it’s true.
I don’t like to tidy, or clean, or dust. And my solution is to have a small home with very few things.
But, I allow myself a stack of books. And I’m pretty sure you can too.
You don’t have to keep every book you read if you don’t want to--maybe just the ones that tell the story of your reading journey--or that you need to read again.
Alternatives to trying to keep every book you’ve ever read in your home:
If you can, borrow books from the library or friends and then give them back. Admittedly, it can be difficult to find the books in English that you want this way. But if you can, it’s a great option.
Buy your books used when possible--at a used book store or online. You can get a used book shipped to you for less than the cost of the electronic version. You may feel more free to pass them on to other readers without feeling like you’re spending a ton of money. Or you can try and resell them.
Read some of your books in the electronic format. I personally have a strong preference for paper books, but I do read e-books, and plenty of them. One definite benefit of the e-book is that it doesn’t take up any space!!!
Start a really cool library or an artistic bookshelf. I mean, a wall of books looks really cool, doesn’t it? Instead of painting or wallpapering of finding a poster you could probably find some cool way to keep your books in your house.
A stack of books, a reading habit, better English.
Will a stack of books make you a better reader? Will it make your English better.
Only if you read them. Only if you read nearly every day.
But getting that stack of books, starting your search for what you will read, well, that’s your first step.
Do you have any books in your home that you read again and again? Which ones?
Have you ever been stuck somewhere with lots of time to read and no book--or the wrong book?
Do you usually have more than one book on hand?
Do you borrow your books or buy them?
Do you ever give books away?
Are there books you prefer to hang onto?
What do you do with them?
Ready to join the conversation? Join us at the Vagabond Book Club on Facebook and tell us what you think!