Olivia Payne's tips:
1) Experiment: We all have our favourite genres and authors. Sometimes all we want to do is pick up our favourite book, the one falling apart from re-reading, and stay in our comfort zone. This year, challenge yourself to expand. Take stock of your bookshelves and see what is missing: do you have any collections of short stories or poetry? Do you stick to one genre, or insist only on literary fiction? Any non-fiction? Do you have any translated works? Are all your books contemporary or classics? Buy or borrow something completely different and you might just find a whole new perspective on life and reading!
2) Change Formats: In this fast-paced modern world, a good solid book is something worth hanging onto. But consider, is this is really the best way for you to read? Think on where and when you get the chance to pick up a book. If you’re trying to stuff a huge paperback into your bag to read on the commute to work, maybe instead invest in a lightweight e-reader. These devices are getting cheaper all the time, and many classic books are available for free! If you’re job involves a lot of driving, or being on the move, download some audiobooks to listen to on the go – see if you can find one narrated by the author, or in the soothing tones of Stephen Fry!
3) Join In: Make 2016 the year you finally join a book group, or even set up your own. It is often so much easier to stick to a target with friends, and you can even meet some new ones in the process! You don’t have to be a traditional book group, there are groups which read not only novels but plays or poetry. You don’t even have to meet up with your group physically. Make an online book group or forum, or participate in a project such as Infinite Winter: an online group with a set plan to read a certain amount of the giant Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace every week from January 31st – May 2nd, so there is still time to buy your own copy and join in!
4) Visit A Real Bookshop: I know, it is often so much easier and cheaper just to buy your books online. However, you miss out on one of life’s best pleasures: book-browsing. Picking books up, seeing a shiny cover across the room, meaning to only read the first couple of pages then realising you accidentally read the whole thing and hoping the staff didn’t notice - it just isn’t the same to scroll through recommendations based on some algorithm. So go out, be it to a local chain or a tiny independent, check out one of the Oxfam Bookshops (where I have often found some amazing stuff over the years), or if you’re London-based make a pilgrimage to the second hand shops of Charing Cross Road - also home to the wonderful Foyle’s flagship store and a Blackwell’s for those who have to buy things new!
5) Subscribe: Want to help support some small publishers, or like surprises? Consider investing in a book subscription service and have the books delivered straight to your door – especially useful if it is difficult for you to complete step 4! These subscriptions vary greatly in terms of price and duration, so look around for one that suits you – you can use this as a chance to diversify, or see if your favourite publishers or bookshop have a service! A number of smaller presses offer their work by subscription, and it is a great way to support them. Looking for great translated fiction? Try subscribing to And Other Stories, or Peirene Press. Want to read more women writers? Try Persephone. You can even get exciting extras in with your book! Try Book and a Brew - books and tea, the perfect combination - or Prudence and the Crow for a vintage book and a surprise gift!