Guest Post: How to Pick Up Can’t-Put-Down Books That You Put Down

Today we have a guest post from Nichole Parks, who did an internship with the marketing department here at Bethany House. Enjoy her advice from one reader to another!

College hates me. Life doesn’t want me to read.

Right now, on my desk dwells a novel. I am averaging three chapters a week. Regardless of how I sped through books one and two or how curious I am as to why Celia won’t let Ty kiss her, my textbook keeps winning out.

Dear person reading this, a textbook should never win. I mean, okay, if you are playing Rock Paper Scissors, paper has a good chance of flattening rock. But I am not playing Rock Paper Scissors. I am playing life and, in order to life well, Taylor University assigns me textbooks.

But I haven’t given up reading. In fact, I’ve come up with a game plan that I hope to perfect by the time Dani Pettrey’s Sabotaged releases in February.

I call this game plan How To Pick Up Can’t-Put-Down Books That You Put Down. I know. I know. The title needs work.


I think many of us are perpetually in “All is Lost” territory.


Read out loud

When I’m having trouble reacquainting myself with a novel, I read the first paragraph-page out loud. It channels my focus and helps me better retain what I’ve read. Maybe that’s why audio is one of the three ways we learn. Put audio with visual, and, presto, you’re in Holley, Texas eating goodies with Ty and Celia Porter in Meant to Be Mine.

Here’s the catch: Time.

Reading out loud takes longer than a cow cudding Double Bubble Gum. Also, it’s not the most comfortable thing to host story hour at your OB-GYN’s waiting room.


Maybe it’s just me, but I grew up with an eleventh commandment: thou shalt not write in books. If the eleventh commandment is true, my literature teacher will be in a fiery place.

Yet, I have never had so much un-prompted discussion in class. “The Shawl symbolizes this. Flannery O’Connor uses the word that way because. . . I think Hemingway is misunderstood.” You get the picture.

Never before had I read so closely. There was so much to be read between the lines; questions and feelings to explore; and I remembered more.

So, I highlight verses in my Bible. I underline phrases in my novels. Someday I may even be able to chicken-scratch in the margins. (Gasp!)


Books nestle in my shelves for a long hibernation, wait. . . waiting. . . waiting. Oh, Shawn Grady, I will return for you. Promise. Tomorrow We Die will be read in a future tomorrow.

I don’t want to scare you by being a one girl revolution or anything, but I’m rather proud of this innovative practice of sharing: the buddy system.

During those times where life take over, you need a fellow reader.

Hint: use family. No one can say “no” to family. I exploit Mom, Granny, and my dear cousin to read the novels I’m losing track of. They either (a) motivate me to finish or (b) tell me how it ends so I can move on.

Nichole is a reader and aspiring writer studying (or procrastinating studying for a good book) at Taylor University.

Nichole is a reader and aspiring writer studying (or procrastinating for the sake of a good book) at Taylor University.

As a final assist, I’d like to remind you about audio books. Mom borrows them from the library. From the moment they are checked out, she stays plugged in. She rings the disk on her finger and takes it where she goes. Driving. The audio book even keeps her company while she folds or irons the laundry.

With that, all I can say is, come February, hopefully life won’t sabotage Sabotaged. If it does, I’ll be ready.

Thanks for the tips, Nichole! Anyone else out there: how do you decide what to read next on your TBR pile?


8 thoughts on “Guest Post: How to Pick Up Can’t-Put-Down Books That You Put Down

  1. As a reviewer, I usually end up reading whatever has the next deadline for me to meet. Or if there’s a book I’ve been dying to read and knowing it’s sitting there distracts me from what I’m currently reading, it is definitely what I pick up next, even if it means laying down a book I’m already reading.

    • I remember the fun of reviewing. 🙂 Whenever a new Karen Witemeyer book arrived in the mail, I hardly looked up from the pages until I reached the last.

  2. Wonderful post, Nichole! I’m a fan of your tips. And even though your life commitments are getting in the way of your reading aspirations I’m glad that you have the desire to finish Meant to Be Mine. 🙂 I read a lot during my vacations from college, but I remember reading very little when college was in session. I empathize!

    • Thank you! (p.s. I actually finished Meant to Be Mine! The ending had me grinning ear to ear. But at the time I wrote this post, I was in the middle of it and assignments.)

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Sabotaged was quite a treat. Sad to see the McKenna’s stories end, but I’m thrilled for the next series. 🙂

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