Reading a great book is one of my favorite things in the world. Novels offer a way to escape, even if just briefly, the everyday. A well told story whisks you away and puts you directly into the minds and bodies of fascinating characters. I like to think of reading fiction as a sort of worm hole to different realities – one that transports you to a whirlwind exploration of love, death, sex, dark criminal underworlds and far away lands. Through reading, you meet new friends, heroes and heroines, and, of course, despicable characters that make your skin crawl.
All this between the humble pages of a fiction book.
I read because it is such a powerful teacher of life lessons and because it transforms me. I make a habit of reading daily, even if it’s just a page or two. I talk to lots of people who say they just don’t have the time, or that they don’t know how (or where) to start.
Read through my tips on how to develop a habit of reading.
- Read for joy – not because you “should”. Find books that tell exhilarating stories about fascinating people – people who live in places, or even time periods, that you’d love to visit. Of course, my favorite books are crime thrillers, but maybe you love romance or science fiction. Perhaps you aren’t sure what types of stories you love. Try a variety of books until you find one that really takes you on a joy ride.
- Unplug and make time. We overschedule, overextend, and over-everything in our lives today. Our days are spent shuttling kids here and there, commuting to work and back, surfing the Internet, watching mind-numbing TV, and any number of other time-sucking activities. Choose a time each day to read and make it yours. If you’re worried about finding the time, start with just 10 minutes. Once you feel more comfortable, increase it to 20 or 30 minutes.
- Make it social. Seek out others who love to read. Find them in person or online. The Internet is full of people who love to read and they’ll happily recommend books and talk about what everyone is reading. Yes, reading is a solitary activity…but it’s social as well. Once you start talking, you’ll be surprised how many readers are already in your life and eager to share their unique interpretations of a shared read. Join a book club—even start one.
- Read at your own pace. If you’re a speedy reader, great. But if you need to go slowly to savor and digest all the nuances of a story, that’s great too. It doesn’t matter how many books you read in a certain amount of time. This isn’t The Amazing Race. You’re reading for the pure joy of it, so do it at your own pace.
- Carry a book with you at all times. Whether it’s a paperback or an eBook, take a story with you wherever you go. You can read on the subway or train on your way to work—let somebody else do the driving for a change, you just focus on your latest find. Or, if you’re stuck behind the wheel, you can always pull up a gritty crime novel, like Final Judgment, on your eReader while waiting in line at the pharmacy or dry cleaners.
- At a loss? Just read. In our sensory-overloaded lives, when we encounter a moment of silence, the remote control is often the first thing we grab to put an end to it immediately. What if you were to grab an historical novel, the memoirs of your favorite entertainer, or even a trashy paperback romance, instead? That moment of silence quickly becomes an opportunity for you to catch up with the happenings of your new literary companions.
- Go back to school. Of course, it’s not always practical, or even possible, to enroll in a literature class. But, you can read along with your kids and discuss the storyline and characters with them at dinnertime. Don’t just drop them off at the library; tag along and stroll through the aisles yourself. Help them with their essays or research papers—make it a family affair. Or, if you can manage it, sign up for an online class in your favorite genre.
- Don’t turn it into a chore. Don’t put it on your formidable, daily to-do list as one of the “duties” you must check off to show you’ve had a productive day. It’s not part of your get-more-done plan. Read because you love the hell out of it. Reading releases magic – magic that will touch everything in your life and make it more interesting.
- Clear all distractions. Jealously protect your reading time. Do it in a quiet peaceful place where it’s just you and the fascinating people in your book. Let go of the urge to multi-task during your reading session. Fall down the wormhole and become awash in the story and the characters.
- Get trigger-happy. Make your daily reading a habit by choosing a trigger in your daily routine and read directly after that trigger every day. The more consistent you are with this, the stronger your reading habit will become. For example, the trigger could be something as habitual as eating lunch or enjoying your morning coffee.
Have I convinced you that you can make reading a habit and that it will enrich your life? Perhaps you’ve got some suggestions of your own to add to my list. I’d love to have your input.
Image source: Ed Yourdon