Most of us could stand to make an effort at finding more reading time. Many a reluctant reader has wailed, “But I don’t have time to read!” More often than not, exclaiming we don’t have time to do something often equates to a lack of effort to make the time. And don’t even get me started on writers who don’t read much. If that’s you, please imagine me shaking a testy finger in your face as I chide, “Tsk, tsk, tsk.”
And yes, life happens. Sometimes work or family stressors zap us of the mindset and habits necessary for adequate reading concentration. When things get back to normal, it can be hard to get back into the reading habit again. This is the boat I am currently in after a year of personal and professional changes.
It’s no secret that we live in a world full of steadily increasing distractions. The amount of information and entertainment at our fingertips often overwhelms more than it brings solace. Even though I know immersing myself into a story world soothes me and shuts out those distractions, it is so incredibly hard to find balance. This pull is a plague of the modern age, and I’m tired of being sick.
Listen to an Audiobook: I listen to one book a month during my daily dog walks. I tend to gravitate toward lighter titles or books I’ve read in the past. Every now and again, I will throw in a complex novel such as Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex. The narrator often makes all the difference in my engagement. Audible’s monthly fee is quite reasonable, but free titles can be found on Audiobooks.org and LibriVox.org.
Join a Book Club: The social interaction offered by a book club may provide enough incentive for many to get back into the reading habit. Such clubs can be found via your local library, bookstores, or sites like Meetup.com. Online book clubs are also another option, but not quite as satisfying as in-person gatherings. It may take a few tries to find the best fit, but consider that half the fun.
Make a Sacrifice: In a word: unplug! Turn off that damn TV in order to stop watching its flickering glow like some sort of Zombie. Considering putting your SmartPhone in a drawer and leaving it there for an entire hour (or more). I’ve turned off nearly all noises and notifications on mine so it doesn’t own me anymore. Ignore the siren call of social media. Or skip a household chore or other such task.
Establish a Routine: Stick with a set time for reading. Perhaps first thing in the morning when your brain is energized or at night before you fall asleep as a way to unwind. Rather than scroll through your phone in the bathroom (and you know you have) why not sneak some reading time in? Read while taking a bath. Set yearly goals and make every effort to stick with them. Become active on Goodreads.
Read What You Love: In the past, it wasn’t often that I would quit reading a book. Part of my tendency to slog my way through any text could be shaped by years of giving feedback on student essays or skimming journal articles for graduate school. I am a patient and trained reader and have dove into the slush pile of a literary journal. Alas, life is too short to waste on books that don’t keep you engaged.
Get out of the House: Some people can’t read if chores need done. If the mess in the kitchen keeps nagging, grab your book and head to the library or coffee shop down the road. Whip that book out on the bus or prop it up while on the treadmill at the gym. That being said, make a habit out of carrying reading material. If necessary, get a bag or purse that fits most books and e-reader sizes.
Get Comfy: Plenty of bookshelf and reading room porn abounds on Pinterest. Why not creative an ultimate book nook? I have a special reading chair where I love to flop down and get cozy. Some rituals like making a cup of herbal tea can help signal the reading habit is about to commence. Or visiting the beach, pool, or park might be a great way to relax and get some reading done.
Read Aloud: If you have children, do you read to them? Beyond books for little kids, that habit of reading aloud can be nurtured well beyond childhood. Also, do you and your significant other have similar reading tastes? Or if one of you loves memoirs and the other can’t get enough science fiction, there’s always the possibility of reading erotic stories to each other.
Read Shorter Books: If all else seems to fail in your efforts at finding more reading time, read shorter works. Short stories and essay anthologies offer more manageable chunks. Thanks to Amazon’s Kindle store, many short titles are available for download like never before. Flash fiction is more popular than ever. Reading one or two short pieces a day is better than not reading anything at all.
How do you make an effort at finding more reading time? What works and what do you struggle with?
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