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Sylvia Warren graduated from Oxford in biology, after diversions in precious metals, parasites, and archaeology. She now works for Blackwell’s as their University of Oxford Liaison.

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Sylvia Warren

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “How do you manage to read so much?” If I’m reviewing a few books for OX Magazine, keeping on top of the latest releases and also trying to do some relaxing reading as well, I often find myself asking the same question. If you feel like you never have the time to sit down with a good book, then here are three really simple tips.

1. Read what you want.

If what you want is actually a light and fluffy romance or a ripping historical thriller, don’t feel the need to go and get the entire Booker longlist. They will sit there, take up valuable bookshelf space and make you feel slightly guilty, which in turn makes you not want to read as much. However, if you start to tire of a particular genre, use this as an excuse to branch out into something you may not normally pick up. I found ‘Little Deaths’ by Emma Flint having powered through too much nature writing and it proved to be the perfect antidote.

2. Get yourself a Kindle.

E-readers are fantastic, and can also be downloaded to your phone or tablet. The bonuses are huge – you can have multiple books in your pocket, there are huge discounts even on very new publications, and if you feel the urge you can download a copy from the comfort of your sitting room and have it immediately. People can get very tetchy on this subject, and it’s true you miss out on the gorgeous physicality of a hardback or the comfort of a well-thumbed paperback, but the ease of always having a book (or 20) on hand for quiet moments really helps build the time to read.

3. Don’t be afraid of a ‘Did Not Finish’.

I used to be awfully dogged about finishing a book if I had started it. It didn’t matter if I absolutely loathed everything about it, from the writing style to the plot: if I had opened it, I would reach the final page. I had a revelation when I started being sent proofs – some things are just not my cup of tea, and that’s fine. Would you finish a plate of your least favourite food unless under duress? Would you buy a pair of trousers that really didn’t suit you just because you’d tried them on? No, of course not. I have Paul Auster’s ‘The New York Trilogy’ with a bookmark stuck squarely about a third of the way through, because there are so many other books I’d rather be reading.


Hopefully these suggestions will help if you do fancy reading a bit more, but always remember that it’s meant to be fun, and if you prefer curling up with a box set then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either.

- Sylvia Warren