I read a lot. If I’m not reading fiction books, I’m reading an assortment of other things for the purpose of research, or just because I’m interested in the subject matter. Yet sometimes even I need a break from reading.
When I do, I’ll periodically binge watch shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.
As I was thinking about it, it dawned on me that there are some real similarities between reading and watching … similarities such that if streaming is your usual go-to for relaxation and entertainment, then it won’t be very much of a stretch to sometimes read a book instead.
1. Part of your daily routine
With streaming services, you aren’t bound by broadcast schedules. Kind of ironically though, it seems that many viewers still end up watching their shows as part of a daily or weekly routine. They also tend to wait until evening hours to watch, largely because by then most obligations for the day have concluded.
For the exact same reasons, evening might be the best time to fit some reading into your life. Remember, you don’t have to do just one or the other. Try watching one less episode of something, and spend the time you would have spent on that episode, reading instead.
2. The experience of watching
Think about what you typically are doing when you watch a show. Do you like to sprawl in your bed, wearing your favorite pajamas and having a snack? Do you like to curl up in a living room chair with your dog or cat? Stretch out on the floor with three pillows and your favorite comfy socks? Does a certain show inspire you to reach for a glass of wine, and another show puts you in the mood for hot tea or hot chocolate?
Keep what makes you comfortable and just swap out the streaming for some reading material.
3. Take a break from the world
It’s a very common thing for people to put their phones on silent or ‘do not disturb’ when settling into stream something. Our emails and texting followers on computers, tablets, telephones and watches. Cut out the noise of the outside world and tell yourself that the world can wait.
Our daily lives can be so stressful that it can feel like you need permission to give yourself a little break. Because watching a show is more common, and has the power of advertising behind it, somehow it seems to be more of an acceptable escape. Reading is just as great a way to give your mind a break from all of your responsibilities and recharge your mental batteries.
4. Overwhelming options
Does the prospect of choosing a book to read seem overwhelming? Well, whenever you go to a streaming platform, you probably end up asking yourself what you’re going to watch. Even if you’re bingeing a favorite series that you’ve already seen before, you still have to decide where to begin.
Especially if you want something new, you’re likely to go through recommendations based on your prior selections, or Google options based on ads you’ve seen or things you’ve heard other people say. The same techniques can help you find great books to read. Book databases have search engines that allow you to be extremely specific about what you’re looking for.
Usually when you find a promising streaming recommendation, you might test it out by watching the first episode if it’s a series, or a preview if it’s a movie. Did you know you can do much the same with books?
Some retailers, such as Amazon, allow you to read up to 10% of the content online, even if you are interested in buying a print version. A lot of book series offer the first book in it for free, which allows you to experience a story by the author with no financial expenditure. And if you spend a few dollars a month to subscribe just something like Kindle Unlimited on Amazon, you can ‘borrow’ up to 10 books at a time for no charge from anything in the ‘KU Library’.
5. Anticipate new releases
Internet searches and social media sources help keep you up to date about what is coming to popular streaming sites. You can do exactly the same thing to find new books to read. You can follow blogs that offer book reviews (like www.frominhere.com) and people on Instagram who include book promotions (@frominhere). When you find an author whose work you like, you can usually subscribe to their newsletter, or follow them on Amazon, Goodreads or Bookbub.
No judgement here – so be honest with yourself. Do you regularly use the fast-forward button? Do you like to scroll? Maybe you skip by 15 second increments, or jump over scenes in their entirety?
It’s perfectly fine to skip parts that are boring to you. You might love the end of a movie but hate certain parts of it. Maybe some scenes make you uncomfortable, but you enjoy the majority of it. The exact same thing applies to books. Some very entertaining books stall in certain parts. Maybe a particular chapter gets repetitive, so you want to skim to the end of it. There might be scenes of violence or other explicitness that makes you uncomfortable, but the story itself intrigues you. Easy … just flip past those parts. Just like a TV show or a movie, you don’t have to love every scene in a book to still really enjoy the book.
7. Binge sessions
One weekend I actually watched 12 episodes of Outlander. Another time I watched an entire long season of Once Upon a Time. I watched all three seasons of The Fall in a weekend. Have you done the same with some show that caught your attention?
I have also done the exact same thing with binge-reading. When I read a standalone book that I love, I’ll frequently make a point of reading everything in this series. If you use an e-reader device or program like I do, then e-book bundles, which include all volumes of a series at 1 low price, are a wonderful resource.
8. Just one more …
When you stream a really good show the episodes frequently end with something that entices you to check out the next episode. It’s called a “hook” because it does just that … it grabs you and hooks you into watching more.
Some of the best books do the exact same thing. They grab your attention and hold onto it right until the very end. I can’t tell you how many times I kept reading “just one more chapter” until suddenly the sun was coming up. The author may also tease you with a chapter or two of the next story that will somehow be connected to the book you just read.
I’d love to know what streaming series or book series really grabbed your attention. I’m going to build a giveaway around the top responses, so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts!