Tips for staying focused while reading

Blue House Books has great advice on how to fight off sleepiness and technology addiction!

By Samantha JacquestKENOSHA.COM

Samantha Jacquest is the owner of Blue House Books, Kenosha's full-service independent bookstore in Downtown Kenosha. Sam loves sharing her love of books with the community and bringing in popular and local authors for events. When not at her shop, Sam enjoys traveling and spending time Downtown with her friends, family, and rescue dog Flash.

Anyone else have this issue: You find some free time to read, you grab your warm drink, go to the coziest spot in your house, light a candle, get all cozy under a warm blanket, open your book and… immediately fall asleep!

It happens to me all the time, and I always end up beating myself up about it! I can only get through a couple pages a day because I end up snoozing away or even worse, mindlessly scrolling through my phone. It’s so frustrating! 

It happened several times as I read the recent Blue House Books Club pick The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett, but eventually, the book got so good there was no way I was falling asleep!

If you love character-driven novels, especially ones leaving you undecided if you love or hate these people, this book is for you. St. Elizabeth’s is a home for unwed mothers in a time when it was scandalous to find oneself in such a predicament. These young women would escape to the home under the guise of visiting a sick relative or something of the sort, then return to their lives months later, all while being expected to pretend as if nothing happened. Rose Clinton finds herself in need of St. Elizabeth’s, but not because she is an unwed mother, but rather, because she feels she will be an unfit mother stuck in a loveless marriage. Throughout the story, we get the perspective of Rose, then later on Son, the maintenance man at St. Elizabeth’s, and eventually, Cecilia, Rose’s daughter. 

This story was so complicated in the best way. It’s easy to understand someone’s motives when you’re inside their head, but when you look at the situation from someone else’s perspective, you eventually find yourself an unexpected villain. 

Ann Patchett always writes deeply flawed and complex characters, and in that way they feel so incredibly real and oftentimes relatable. Haven’t we all been in a situation where we should feel grateful, but instead we are wildly unhappy? Or haven’t we all had someone in our lives that was so emotionally distant, that it made you crave their attention more? 

This was a fantastic book, and just about everyone at the Blue House Book Club agreed that The Patron Saint of Liars is a favorite! If you are interested in learning more about our book club, stop into Blue House Books or check our website for more information!

Having an incredibly good book is one way to fight off sleepiness or technology addiction, but sometimes even that’s not enough! So, I have been experimenting with ways to stay cozy, but keep myself more alert and focused when sitting down with a book, and here are a few tips that have worked!

  • Have an instrumental playlist in the background – I use Spotify, and there are a ton of great playlists for reading, many of which will match the mood of your book! As I write this, I’m listening to a fantasy playlist that kept me excited and alert as I read The Book That Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence! Simply search “reading playlist” and most music streaming services will get you some great options.
  • Keep your phone out of reach – I know this can be a tough one, but what I do is keep the volume on and keep it within hearing distance but out of reach, that way if a call or text comes through I can check it if it’s something important, but it stops the doom scrolling.
  • Make your cozy reading spot slightly less cozy – I love burrowing into the corner of my sectional with a heated blanket and candle, but it was just too comfy and I always fell asleep within a page or two. So now, I still have my blanket and candle, but I’ll sit straight up with my legs crossed, or I’ll move out of the corner and burrow a bit less. I lasted an entire hour reading!
  • Take your book out in the wild – I don’t know about you, but I’m much less likely to fall asleep or scroll on my phone aimlessly if I go somewhere in public to read. 

I hope that helps you keep off the storytime snooze! And as always, stop into Blue House Books soon and we’ll help you find a book that is sure to keep you reading all night long!