As a person I love to read. Reading is basically my number one hobby and the love of my life. Unfortunately, when you’re a spoonie, brain fog, fatigue and pain can make reading very hard. I also know a lot of other spoonies that love to read but have trouble, so I thought I would share some of the tips I’ve acquired over the past few years of how to read more as a spoonie. I’m sure these tips would also work for anyone who struggles to read sometimes as well.
Take Frequent Breaks
I know for me personally, taking breaks works really well. My brain gets tired very quickly and words blur easily, so I’ve worked out that reading for a little bit, and then taking a short break whenever I start to read a sentence three times over, works really well. I’ll often just take a 5 minute mindless twitter break to give my brain a chance to reload again, and then I read a little bit more and repeat the process. It can get frustrating not being able to read like normal and getting tired so quickly, but I’ve found this way does help me read a bit more, and it’s better than reading nothing.
Reread an Old Favourite
For some reason I find rereading books a lot easier than reading new books. Probably because I already know the general story line so I don’t have to worry about missing stuff so much, and I don’t have to concentrate as hard since I don’t need to catch every word. Yes, rereading means you aren’t taking in any new stories, but it does mean you’re reading, and sometimes just having that experience again is really nice. Plus, it’s always nice to revisit old characters and storylines. A couple of my go to reread are A Court of Mist and Fury, The Agency Series by Y.S.Lee and The Infernal Devices series.
Have a book with you Everywhere you go
And when I say everywhere I mean everywhere. There are so many little moments in the day when you don’t realize you have a chance to read, and as a spoonie, I find those moments perfect because they are so short and quick so my brain doesn’t get tired, but it means I’m getting some reading done, and I can usually add up a few of these little moments as the day goes on. I take my book when I’m brushing my teeth, when I go to the toilet, and even just have my book on my lap wherever I go in the house since I’m in a wheelchair. It takes no effort to have it just sitting on my lap, but it means that my book is always with me if I have a spare moment while I’m doing something (and I can’t lose it that way as well).
Read Several Books at Once
I don’t always do this, because sometimes it can get overwhelming reading several books at once depending on my headspace, but I often find reading multiple books at once a really good way to tackle brain fog. It does mean that it takes a bit longer to get a book actually finished, but I find that when my brain fog is getting a bit much and I’m struggling to focus on a plotline, swapping to another novel I’m reading with a completely different story can help refresh me a bit and the change of plot means I can read for a bit longer. I tend to read books of different genres (like a contemporary and fantasy), because brain fog does mean that sometimes its difficult to remember what happened in what book, so this just makes it a bit easier to distinguish between them.
Use an Ereader to read
I use my ereader a lot when I’m reading these days. Often when I’m reading, brain fog means that I blur between the lines and get confused with sentences, so using my ereader means I can make the line spacings quite big and it’s easier to separate between sentences that way. Also being able to make the font bigger is wonderful so I don’t have to focus as much. Ereaders are also great because they are really light and are much easier to hold with arm and body pain as apposed to a huge paperback. I often read on my side in bed, and it’s much less painful on my joints and wrist than a regular book (plus they are super easy to slip into small bags for doctors appointments).
Listen to an Audiobook
This is something I’ve only discovered recently but it has been such a savior and has helped me read a lot more. Not actually having to concentrate on a page and focus, means that it’s much easier to take more of the story in when I’m just listening to someone else. I was surprised at how similar it was to actual reading but I’ve found that I can get just as caught up in a story through audiobooks as I do through regular reading. I like to do something mindless with my hands that doesn’t require concentrating while listening to an audiobook like knitting or coloring, because it means my mind doesn’t wander and gives me something little to focus on instead of just sitting there. I use audible to get my audio books and so far it’s been great because all I need is my phone (even though I can use other devices). YouTube also has some audiobooks that people upload (although they can get taken down sometimes).
Join the Online Book Community
Now, this one doesn’t exactly help with reading more, but is more about staying connected to your love of reading. This past year I have really discovered the online book community in places such as ‘Bookstagram’. I haven’t really been able to read much at all, but being apart of this amazing community, with all these other people who love books as much as I do, has helped me to stay in love with reading and not get too bitter about the fact that I can’t read much, because it’s enabled me to get excited about books with other people, and hear what books they are loving, as well as discuss books that I have already read before I got sick and still absolutely love. It’s such a warm community, and has really been one of the reasons that I’m still trying to read and still in love with it. It’s also a really nice space to escape my illness, because when I don’t necessarily feel like chatting about my health in the online Spoonie community, at any time of day there is always someone willing to chat about books, and to them I am just another book lover, not someone who is sick, which is really nice sometimes.
I really hope this post has been useful for all those amazing spoonie bookworms out there. I know using these tips have really helped me, and I’m hoping that one day I won’t have to worry about brain fog or pain and can just read to my heart’s content, but until that day this is what I do to keep my bookworm heart happy.