It feels like for the last couple of years my New Year’s Resolution has been to read more, and every year I’ve failed. And I’m an English graduate and former bookish child who should be predisposed to reading. But I don’t think I’m alone in my literary struggles.
It’s a catch 22 of modern life that the pace and immediacy of information makes us crave the slow discovery of a good book, but it’s exactly that pace and immediacy that get in the way of our reading. There are so many missed opportunities for me to read because mindlessly scrolling Twitter or double tapping Instagram.
If, like me, you want to get back into the groove of having a book on the go, that you want to have an answer other than ‘my phone’ when people ask what you’re reading, then here are some top tips to ease yourself back into it and get on the path to bona fide bookworm.
When you’re trying to form a reading habit, kicking off with War and Peace is probably not the best way to start. My preferred page count is around 200 pages, and I usually won’t buy anything over 400. Why? Because it feels like too much of a commitment.
When a book is short, it immediately looks do-able. Even if you only read ten pages a day, and miss a few days, you can finish it within a month. I also find that shorter books are more engaging; the author doesn’t faff about with pages and pages describing the moon, they get straight to it and keep the read bobbing along nicely.
A shorter book is also easier to keep in your handbag…
Carry A Book With You:
If you want to read more, then you have to have a book to read. Sounds obvious, but when I first started I’d find myself somewhere with a spare ten minutes and my book snugly at home on the shelf. Keep your book in your bag and it’s always there when you get the opportunity.
The other benefit of having your book with you is that it’s a little guilt trip every time you look in your bag. When you reach in for your phone but feel the scrape of pages, you’re more likely to be coerced into reading it.
Create Situations To Read:
If you truly believe that you don’t have time to read, then create routines in which to do it. Maybe that’s having a long, hot, bubbly bath on a Wednesday evening where you leave your phone on charge and read while you stew. Maybe you ignore your emails on your commute and parcel that time off as reading time. Maybe you start a Sunday morning routine of getting a coffee and a pastry, leaving your phone at home and reading for an hour in a café or in the park.
Don’t Read Books:
As long as you’re reading something, then you’re still forming the habit. Rather than scrolling past all the links in Twitter, actually click on them and read the content. Make time to catch up with your favourite blogs, start reading a paper or buy quality magazines (I’m talking independent lifestyle mags rather than the weekly glossies). Get your mind used to being stimulated by slow content and the books will follow.
Get Inspired About Books:
One of the things I really struggled with was knowing what to read. There are a whole lot of books out there, with new ‘must-reads’ being released all the time. I didn’t want to spend my money or my time on something that I wouldn’t like, which left me in a kind of paralysed stasis.
Start reading around about books. Whether it’s discovering recommendations from book bloggers, listening to podcasts or browsing the book sections of newspapers (the Guardian online is particularly good), you start to get a feel for what is out there in the genres you like to read.