Almost every person I know claims they wish they read more. And why not? Reading is a magical, uniquely human activity. But most of us simply don’t read as often as we’d like. Sure, you reserve an indulgent book for long vacation days at the beach, but many of us don’t have a regular habit of reading in daily life. Adults don’t have time to read, right? Wrong.
We all can, and should, read more. Reading on a regular basis boasts some incredible benefits, like:
-an increased sense of empathy
-oh, and greater likelihood of success!
Even the busiest CEOs, like that earth-shaker Elon Musk for example, dedicate huge swaths of their precious time to reading. Successful people know that it helps them continue to grow and be successful. Books are knowledge. They are portals to another world, another experience. They are reflections of our innermost selves. Reading more is always, always a beneficial thing.
But a lot of people find embarking on a reading journey a real challenge. Between busyness, overwhelm, technological competition and lack of focus, a lot of people fail to succeed at their reading goals. Sadly, ‘I am going to read more’ usually remains an annual New Year’s resolution that never seems to get accomplished.
Personally, I recently fell into a reading lull. Over the past year, I bought dozens of books but never did more than peruse any of them. I would spend my time writing/editing film footage/dancing/climbing/biking, and reading simply didn’t make the cut. I always felt like I should be doing something more productive than curling up with a good book.
But, as of late, I’ve been feeling pretty creatively drained. I had nothing left in the tank. Luckily, a friend lent me a book, which I felt obligated to at least start reading—out of respect for her recommendation. Before I knew it, I had finished reading my first book in months and was ready for the next! Reading actually has increased my productivity and reignited my creativity in a huge way. Having refueled my tank, my time spent reading now feels 100 percent worth it.
If you want to start reading again, here are some tips to help you re-enter the world of books with ease and excitement:
Make reading a habit
Reading 20 pages shouldn’t be something you have to check off on your to-do list. It should be enjoyable and natural. Get back into the swing of things by taking 20 minutes after waking up or before sleeping to dig into a book. Every. Single. Day. Keep to your schedule. All it takes is the success of finishing one book to drum up your momentum again, so choose a short, fun read that will make it easy to reap success.
Never leave home without a book
Even if you are swamped with work, family obligations and chores; even if you are struggling to fit in enough sleep, there are always minutes available in the cracks of your day for reading. Perhaps on the train to work, or during your lunch break as you munch a sandwich, or while you are waiting for your child’s ballet class to let out. There is always time and space in life for personal growth, and reading is a great way to do that. Always keep a book in your bag for those spare minutes.
Don’t be afraid to put down a bad book
There are millions of published books in the world, literally. If you really aren’t enjoying a particular book after the first 100, 50 or even 20 pages, you don’t need to continue reading out of a sense of obligation. I know, it feels so wrong, but that is a flawed perfectionist attitude. Reading is not about quantity, it is about quality. Leaving a book unfinished does not make you a failure. In fact, quite the opposite. Pat yourself on the back for utilizing your time wisely and committing to books that inspire you and expand your way of thinking.
If you are just embarking on some new reading goals, focus can be a big issue. Technology has shortened our attention spans and checking out social media has become impulsive any time boredom starts to creep in. If you want to improve yourself and start reading, it is important to power down your technology. Let no distractions tempt you. The modern world is always trying to pull us in seventeen different directions at once. Let yourself exist in a small slice of time, uninterrupted, reading. It will make getting into a book a much easier and more mindful process.
Actually buy a real book
There is something incredibly special about buying a book. Electronic readers are great, but getting your eyes off a screen is pretty important, especially if you work on a computer screen all day or unwind with some television after work. Plus, if you read right before bedtime, screens are a big no-no if you want quality sleep.
No need to feel overwhelmed
What book should you start with? That can be the most challenging question of all. There are so many books. To get back into the rhythm, try rereading a book or author you know you’ll enjoy. For me, that’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or literally anything by the hilariously satirical Kurt Vonnegut. After you finish (good job!), use the internet to your advantage and look for curated lists to suggest another read you’ll enjoy. Goodreads takes the books you enjoy and uses that data to determine other books you may be interested in reading. The Goodreads community also creates curated list and reviews, so there are plenty of options to get you started. You have resources to help you!
Ignorance is absolutely not bliss. You can read more, you just need to make it happen. All it takes is opening a book to empower yourself and expand your world.