-Books are available from your library. The first thing you’ll notice is the sheer quantity of books on display. Don't be dismayed. Find the “A” section and take the first five books. On your next trip, grab the next five. Keep to this system and you’ll get through them all without double-ups or confusion.
-The best general advice I can give for fiction is: avoid thinking about what isn’t there, and try not to imagine unnecessarily. Writers will constantly waste your time if you let them. For example, they will say things like “Harriet walked into the room.” Of course you will now imagine the living room at your cousin's house with the old wood burner, and the two bean bags, and the plastic mat on the table and the cat hair sticking to the weird Moroccan rug. Then the next sentence will be “she sat at the shiny black table and stared out over Central Park, as the air conditioning purred like a tiny tiger in the ceiling.” All your previous imagining has to be thrown away, and on top of this you will probably pointlessly imagine Harriet's shoes or hair colour, only to be shot down again a page later. Be warned: fiction is just that feeling, constantly. Experts agree that when reading, nearly 98 percent of your imagination is either completely wasted or highly inaccurate. It’s demoralising. Imagine only what you know is there. If you’re the type of person who will let this get to you, watch a movie instead.
-Short stories can be enjoyable but are mostly empty calories. Books get better for you the longer they are, with most of the vitamins and minerals packed into the 600-800 page range.
-When you finish a book, make a short ‘hmmm’ sound, close it, count to three and then throw it firmly on the ground with both hands, so that it lands flat with a ‘thump’. Practise ahead of time. This is important for a sense of closure, so that the book doesn't blend with the next one you read.
Ralph Upton is the reader of over a hundred books, most notably all of David Copperfield. His recent books include one about Gallipoli by an Australian, which was really interesting, and the first few pages of a novel which was supposed to be good but just seemed kind of try-hard and just a bit 'urgh' judging by what he got through, but maybe he was just not in the right mood at the time and he should give it another shot.
Also in the Reddish Brown Series
How to Look at a Painting
How to Listen to Music