“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray
Go throw your TV set away
and in its place, you can install
a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”
- “Television” by Roald Dahl
I like to believe that people who don’t enjoy reading simply haven’t found the right book yet, but more and more I see that this isn’t the case for most people.
Our attention spans have decreased. We can’t sit still enough to read books. Instead, we pick up a book only to then take out our phones and endlessly scroll. When we stop scrolling, we forget why we picked up the book in the first place.
The beautiful stories that lie in literary fiction are awaiting us.
For me, reading is like breathing. Sometimes when I’m reading, I’m so immersed in the other world that I can’t even hear my mom calling me for dinner. Reading lets me get out of my head and explore something else. In the words of Rory Gilmore, “I live in two worlds, one is a world of books.” Among many things, reading broadens your perspective, relaxes your mind, amplifies your creativity, expands your vocabulary, and sharpens your focus.
In fact, the one habit ultra-successful people have in common is their reading habits. (Check it out!)
And there’s nothing sexier than a book shelf.
When I’m not doing other things, you’ll find me like this, curled up with my nose buried in a book, which stirs a question by many — “How do you read so much?”
Always be reading. That’s always my first answer. The single best way to read a lot of books is to always be reading. On your commute. Before bed. At lunch. It’s not about reading at the cost of doing something else, it’s about reading when you aren’t doing anything. You’d be amazed at how often you can sneak in a few pages. Baby napping? Read a page. Waiting in the doctor’s office? Read a page. Five minutes until class starts? Ok, you get the idea.
Set a goal. On January 1, I set a reading goal for the year. Note: it’s important to make it a realistic goal. It’s always better to start low and surpass your goal than struggle to hit it. I set a goal to read, on average, a book a week, or 52 a year. It doesn’t work out to exactly a book a week, but the goal keeps me on track.
Read what you love. I do think you can cultivate a love of reading. Many of us learn to not like reading because in school, we’re forced to read in a way that doesn’t work for us — the wrong content, the wrong pacing, the wrong explorations. If you are trying to cultivate a love of reading, read things that you love. It could be comics, it could be memoirs of your heroes, or it could be small town mysteries. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t know, start something and see. The important thing is to be honest with yourself. If you don’t like it, stop reading it, even if it’s the book of the year, and even if your best friend said you’d love it.
Don’t be afraid to quit a book, but do so sparingly. If some book isn’t doing it for you, it’s okay to quit reading it, but I’ve found that persevering often reaps rewards. A good rule of thumb is to only quit a book after you’ve gotten a third of the way, or even half of the way through.
Wean off social media. Try to cut down on time-wasters. Turn off your phone. Think about the hours you spend mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. With all that stimulation gone, your mind will find reading literature a lot more appealing.
Get a library card. Reading is free! Get all the books your heart desires. The library is truly my happy place, and it is gravely underutilized.
Build a reading list. I am a die-hard Goodreads fan. Right now I have about 713 books in my queue. If you finish one book, pick up the next. I like to read a single page of a new book as soon as I finish the last book. This way, I’m committed to reading another book.
Download Goodreads. It’s the only social media I will ever tout. When I type ‘goo’ into my browser, Goodreads comes up before Google.
- It makes reading social.
- It encourages you to read more books.
- It helps you keep track of books you’ve read and want to read
- It recommends books based on your interests
And much more!
It’s like the happiest cult I’ve been a part of. Anytime someone mentions anything to do with books, I say, “You know what would help with that? Goodreads.” Go ahead and follow me while you’re at it.
Get started. That’s it. The final tip is to quit with the excuses and just dive in! I’ve compiled a short list of some of my 5-star rated books of a variety of genres to get you started:
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
- Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn