This is Part 1 of my Reading 101 series. If you are one of those people who really wished they read more books but could not start and/or maintain a reading habit, then this post is for you. Even if you are a disbeliever and think reading is only a substitute for sleeping pills, do try the tips below and you just might cave in and enter the wonderful world of literature.
1. Explore different books
When you watch a movie that you don’t like, do you give up on movies altogether? Of course not. You realize that the particular movie did not suit your taste and watch something else. With books, however, people tend to read a few books in a given genre and give up on reading if they don’t like what they’ve read. When you don’t like a book, give up on the book, not on the author or the entire genre, or worse, on the whole habit of reading.
Finding a genre you like and the writing style that hooks you is key to enjoying books. Different people have different tastes and want to experience different things out of their reading. Some may like a writing style that is very descriptive and vividly paints a picture of the scene in detail. Others may like a writing style that has hidden meanings and symbolism that requires some deep diving and reading between the lines. Some may view reading as a purely intellectual activity. Others may see it as a means of escape from reality.
Whatever your preference is, exploring different genres and authors helps to identify what kinds of books interest you. Here are some ways to explore different books:
– Enrol in a library
– Get suggestions from your bookaholic friends
– Join a reading network like Goodreads
– Try out free ebooks from Gutenberg, Kindle, Kobo, etc.
2. Read in bite-sized servings
If you find it daunting to read a full-length novel or a big nonfiction book, start small. You can check out short story anthologies, essay collections and poetry books. Some nonfiction books are divided in such a way that each chapter is standalone and you can read whichever title catches your fancy.
For fiction, some people find apps like Serial Reader to be of great help. This app breaks up big books into small issues that are delivered every day. This way, the user gets to read overwhelmingly huge books in small doses and they don’t even have an excuse for lack of time since each issue takes hardly 20 minutes. For nonfiction, you can check out apps like Blinkist that provide the key insights of a book. Though these are not as good as the real deal, they still let you cover the basics of a book in 5-10 minutes.
3. Check out other platforms for inspiration
This tip is for the fanboys and fangirls. If you are a fan of someone, there is a high chance that you will read books recommended by them. I’ve had friends who are not so keen on reading ask about a particular book just because their favourite actor recommended it on Twitter.
A considerable number of recent reviews of the book Demian by Herman Hesse mentions the kpop song Blood Sweat & Tears by BTS. Some people have even commented on the video that they didn’t really like reading books but they just had to read this one because they loved BTS and/or they wanted to read it to better understand the song’s MV.
Bottom line, whatever field of interest you are into, follow the bibliophilic artists. Whenever they recommend books on social media or mention what books inspired a certain creation, you will be more inclined to read it.
4. Find your medium
You don’t necessarily have to stick to the printed form of books. Some people find that using an ebook reader is more accessible because they can squeeze in time for reading in every other spare minute. Others find audiobooks to be most convenient because they can just listen to a book while they drive or do their household chores.
Sign up for a free trial of Audible and check if it works for you. Install free reading apps on your phone and see if you find them convenient. If you are convinced that a certain medium works for you, you can invest in it to make books a part of your daily life.
5. Make time for reading
A lot of people complain that they don’t have time to read. Here is the thing though. No one is forcing you to read an entire 800-page book in a single sitting. If you put your mind to it, I’m sure you can spare at least 10 minutes every day for reading.
Actively setting up a time for reading will help you stick to the habit. Try to allot a specific time daily for reading. You can even set up a reading space if you can. Every day, at the scheduled time, you can go to the distraction-free reading space and spend time with a book.
Once you are invested in a book, it is easy to scrape together every free minute for reading, especially if you are reading an ebook. For example, I read while commuting to work, waiting for the elevator, waiting for people to assemble for a meeting, etc. You know all those chores people do while watching TV? I substitute my Kindle with the TV. Where there is a will, there is a way! Check out Part 2 of this series for simple tips to make time for reading.
6. Set a goal
A goal helps you progress. Set up some sort of reading challenge that suits your needs. You can set a goal of reading 1-2 pages daily or pledge to read for a few hours every weekend. You can try the Ray Bradbury diet of reading one short story, one essay and one poem every day. I’m currently doing a variation of this as a media diet plan and you can join me if you’d like.
You can also take part in an online reading challenge. There are so many reading challenges focused on a certain theme. Many of them focus on the number of books/pages as well. You can start off by taking up any reading challenge you like and then keep tailoring it as the days go.
7. Buddy read or join a book club
While some people are all set to go solo, others work well when they have a companion to discuss. It gives them a sense of satisfaction to do an activity with a friend. Also, peer pressure makes them accountable and forces them to read. If you are one of those people, find someone to buddy read a book or join a book club.
Don’t know of any good book clubs in your area? Fret not. You can always join a virtual book club. Goodreads is filled with groups that spotlight one or more books at a time and the members are required to discuss them.
Still don’t feel like reading? Perhaps you are more of a visual person and plain words on paper are not your cup of tea? How about trying a comic book. There are so many great webcomics you can check out. You can also try graphic novels. Maybe even an adaptation of a novel in graphic novel/manga form. The options are plenty.
Let me know if you need any specific tips about reading in the comments below.
This World Reading Day, make a commitment to reading!