Lovely, we should all read. All the smart people say we should. And, let’s face it, we all know what happens to the human mind when all it does is read tweets and similarly short internet texts. You know why your MCM doesn’t understand basic human emotions, why your cousin genuinely thinks he’s going to be the first billionaire in the family and why some people are, as we speak, wiring money to a Nigerian prince. They don’t fucking read!
From this scientific explanation, we can conclude that reading is essential. The problem, though, is that reading is such a task. Good lord! First of all, there are frequently many words involved, and secondly, you have to use your brain. Seriously! It doesn’t matter how hard you try to let the words in front you just be different arrangements of the alphabet, you will still end up pondering. Now, how is that fair? It’s bad enough your crush is ignoring you and COVID-19 is making a mess of everything, now you’re forced to draw parallels between the toxic masculinity you see in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and that of modern-day Malawi/Africa? Jesus wept!
Well, I say, no more! Over the past 7 months I have bravely explored means to lessen our burden. That reading challenge you took on back during New Year’s or whenever you decided to follow the propaganda to read a certain number of books this year…get ready to smash it!
“But Angasa, I want to challenge myself,” you are foolishly thinking.
Wow. Did you not just read what I said about reading being a task? I’m trying to help you here. Now, do you want to be someone who challenges themselves or do you want to be someone who finishes an arbitrary list and have the appearance of sophistication and learnedness? (See how the second option has fancy words? The choice is obvious.)
So here are my hacks for finishing your reading list early and impressing everyone you know with how bookish and extremely interesting you are:
12 Scammish Ways to Finish Your Reading Challenge Early
1. Re-read easy stuff you’ve already read
The last “book” I read before hitting my target was the viral Cat Person by Kristen Roupenian which made the internet go crazy back in 2017. The story, published first in The New Yorker, had practically everyone including me buzzing! So I decided to revisit its delicious and frighteningly relatable narrative. And, lovely, my read was not in vain. Imagine my surprise and delight when Goodreads counted it as a read. Just like that, your girl completed a goal! And you can too – just hit up one of your old short and easy texts for a quick boost of the reading list! (PS: re-reads are so legit that Goodreads counts it too)
2. Didn’t Finish? Doesn’t Matter
Despite not utilising this neat trick this time around, I’d be remiss in not mentioning it. DNF* is the vibe is, lovely. Don’t let any reading go to waste! So what if Infinite Jest was too much for you? You read at least a paragraph, right? What are you waiting for, babe? Add it to the list!
*Did Not Finish
3. Read kid’s books
I stumbled on this hack on World Book Day (23 April) after Amazon offered nine free books on Kindle, one of which was Along the Tapajós by Fernando Vilela. Realising it was only 40 pages long and my best friend had just finished reading another book (which made me jealous), I added it to my “currently reading” list with the defence that its illustrations were beautiful and I have two younger sisters so maybe I should be in the know re: children’s lit.
And just like that, a hack was born! I’ve been going crazy with it ever since. I’ve read classics like Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle which led me to read the parody The Very Hungry Zombie by Michael Teitelbaum. Did it stop there? You’d think – except I found myself really enjoying the kid’s books and looking forward to sharing them with both my sisters.
So I also read:
4. Just straight up lie
Most worldviews and religions denounce the act of telling mistruths but would the world even function without lies? You telling people you’ve read Zadie Smith is actually a good thing for society. This is something I learned from reading Haruki Murakami and no one will ever be able to tell that I’m lying.
5. Turn to audio books
One of the few “serious” reads on my list, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange, was such a breeze to listen to. If I’d let my eyes do the work it probably would have taken me a month to finish! So, if you can, listen up.
PS: if you’d like to explore the wonderful world of audiobooks, you can sign up to Audible for free for 30 Days.
6. Google the summary
You did it in high school so, what, now you’re too good for it? If it’s good enough for the suffering English lit student, then why can’t it be good enough for you? Because you’re classist and ageist! Marx is in his grave spinning because of your bourgeois refusal to peruse the summary on Wikipedia and pretend you’ve read!
7. Read short books
This is an inspired and well known hack. Just google “short books to read” and you’ll probably find a ton of articles with suggestions (including the books on this list). The best part about this hack is if reading worthwhile books is important to you, then yo don’t have to sacrifice on quality. Thanks to a bunch of listicles I ended up reading The Heart of Haiku by Jane Hirshfield. Poke the Box by Seth Godin, Guns by Stephen King, The Art of War by Sun Tzu and No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg.
8. Count individual short stories
The great thing about Goodreads is that it often does have short stories, like the aforementioned Cat Person, listed so it’s super easy for anyone to read something short and have it count toward their reading challenge. See? Even Goodreads wants you to scam your way to success!
9. Read Instapoetry
If I hadn’t relied on reading children’s fiction to achieve my goal, I would have just settled for instapoetry. For anyone who doesn’t know, instapoetry is a subgenre of poetry that is intended for sharing on social media, often accompanied with illustrations. The widely derided style is often criticised for its simplicity but for you, lovely scammer, this is a good thing! It makes them easy to read. Sure, you’ll find out some famous instapoem collections like Nayyirah Waheed’s Salt and Nejma are lovely but overrated, and there are absolute duds like the severely underwhelming Adultolescence by Gabbie Hanna; but remember the point is to get done quickly. And hey, maybe you’ll find a gem or two.
10. Just watch the movie
Imagine reading Anna Karenina instead of celebrating Keira Knightley’s bag. Imagine reading Romeo and Juliet after Claire Danes had to endure Leonardo DiCaprio’s punk ass! Imagine reading Interview with the Vampire instead of letting Brad Pitt make your heart feel things? I can’t.
11. Read your own book
Fine, this hack might be hella specific and an excuse for this starving writer to plug her debut novel (ahem) but it did count toward my reading goal and, shucks, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t shamelessly self promote.
All Effie May wants to do is finish high school for her dead grandpa’s sake. Simple, right? Not so much. A sordid scandal has everyone at school talking. A scandal that has nothing and everything to do with Effie. Either way, she knows she has to keep what happened a secret. Now she mustn’t just survive high school, she has to keep her life from unravelling while making sure everyone thinks she’s okay. But with her best friends, her wacky sister, her moody ex, his hot best friend, her nemesis and an unlikely friendship to deal with, keeping her life from blowing up might just be easier said than done. Advisory note: this book contains strong language
12. Change the goal
My original target was to hit 35 books but then I realized that I’m no chump. 35 books, what do I look like, a library? Just a few days ago I had read 24 books, 68% of my goal. Then I changed it to 25 and voila, 96% done. All I had to do was read one more thing and become better than everyone by finishing my challenge. Now look at me – I’m the best!
Just in case it wasn’t clear, this post is in total jest. Please don’t crucify me in the comments. The only mistake I’ve made is be a lazy reader. If you need someone to tell at, Donald Trump has a Twitter.