How I Read #2: Sunday Reads

Your reading schedule needs quick wins to keep morale high and the wheel turning.

This is one part of a series of articles about How I Read, i.e. what's worked for me and what hasn't. I probably wouldn't recommend reading all of them together, that sounds like serious overkill.


Like its subject matter, this one will be quick and easy.

There is likely no other single habit I've adopted (and covered in this series) that has given me more satisfaction than the act of doing Sunday Reads.

A Sunday Read is exactly what it sounds like. It's a book you can pick up, start reading, and reasonably finish off in the same day, maybe even in a single sitting. It's the espresso shot of books.

Of course, there are no rules here, you can spill over to the next day if the book ends up taking longer than you expected [1]. But the idea is that you finish quick, without too many interruptions, and definitely without Rotating to another book. The intention is that this is your 'relief' book. An easy win, a morale boost, something to keep you going and ensure that you feel fresh when you return to your usual books the following week.

As any reader will tell you, there is some catharsis in reaching the end of a book. It doesn't matter what the genre is, by virtue of its very format (sentences that go on and on until they suddenly stop) reading a book builds up a sense of tension in you, which gets released only when you reach the end. It's why so many people insist on sticking to books they no longer enjoy reading instead of simply Abandoning them.

If your current reading list includes a 900-page behemoth and a 30hr audiobook, and you aren't likely to finish either of them for several weeks or even months, you'd be forgiven for missing that sense of release. You shouldn’t have to go that long without a reward. A Sunday read will let you have a microdose of that feeling, and it will help you conclude the week on a high.

So next Sunday, drop your usual Rotations, your currently-reading list, and grab something tiny. Treat your Sunday like a Sunday.

Suggestions

Since a Sunday Read needs to be something I can do in a single Sunday, they're usually quite short. Novellas and comics work well. As do some plays. Has a coffee table book ever looked tempting to you? Great, use that.

This is also a great chance to step beyond your usual selection criteria, since a tiny book means the risk of wasted time is low. So try and reach for books you normally wouldn't consider.

Read an entire graphic novel whose cover you liked. Read one-act plays you've heard of. Try horror, or erotica, or something else that would be funny to squeeze into 100 pages. Is world-building micro-fantasy a thing? It should be.

These were my 17 Sunday Reads from 2019 (far from doing it every Sunday). They include 8 short books/novellas/isolated short stories, 8 volumes of comics, and 1 children's book.

Children's books are actually a surprisingly safe bet, and I intend on reading a lot more of them. They take only a couple of hours, and I think if I can get myself to somewhat memorize a few good ones then it'll be a useful skill for entertaining small kids and enthusiastic adults.

If you're an Audible subscriber, a lot of their free Audible Originals are adaptations of short plays and performances, meaning they run for under 3 hours. Perfect for a Sunday chore.

Footnotes

  1. I started The Communist Manifesto thinking "it's just 30 pages and I'm curious; I should be done with this by evening" and ended up taking about 2 weeks. That thing was exhausting. I needed to rest after every paragraph.