“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” ~Joseph Addison
Any type of reading takes time and effort. But when you read for school or work, it’s completely different than fiction reading for pleasure. With leisure fiction, you’re giving your free time to the author and entering into a new world – one created by someone else – that you hope will draw you in and prove worth the time.
Have you ever sat down to read a good book and then had so many distractions (either external or internal thoughts) that you have to go back and re-read sections to understand what’s going on? Even though the author may have delivered a page turning, suspense-laden masterpiece, you haven’t really gotten to get involved with the story if you’re distracted. What’s more, you need to enjoy what you’re reading and lean in to your reading inclinations.
Just like you need quality time with your family, you’ve got to block out quality time with people like Alex Stone, Lou Mason, Jack Davis, and your other favorites. You need stories that pull you in and take you to new places, give you new ideas, and take you out of your comfort zone.
Here’s how you can enjoy a better reading experience every time you sit down to read:
- Lean in to your inclinations – maybe all your friends are reading one thing and you feel pressured to read the same even though you want to read something else. Don’t fight the tide. Read what you want. The book all your friends are crazy about will still be there later.
- Distraction free – it’s not always possible to create an absolutely distraction free environment for your reading time, but you can take measures that will help. Tell your family that you’re taking X amount of time to read and to refrain from interrupting you during that time. If you have younger kids, you might put on a timer in the other room and tell them that when it goes off, you’ll come out to shower them with attention. Put pets outside or in another room.
- Calm and relaxed – clear your mind of any worries and concerns. They’ll still be there after your reading session. Allowing yourself to get lost in your reading may even help you resolve some of the worries. If you continue to feel anxious about taking care of tasks, duties, and chores, you won’t have a satisfying reading experience. The laundry and the bills will be waiting for you after you visit with your favorite fictional characters.
- Keep a healthy “to read” stack nearby – it’s always nice to have a stack of books waiting in line for your reading attention. Whether they’re physical books on a side table, or eBooks waiting in your Kindle or other reading device, it’s comforting to know you’ll have another adventure at the ready as soon as you finish the current one. Then you won’t have to waste time agonizing in the bookstore or online about your next pick.
- DVR to the rescue – worried that your reading time will make you miss the latest Game of Thrones or Walking Dead episode? That’s what DVRs are for! Record your favorite shows and series, so you can watch them with family after you’ve had your escape into the pages of your current book.
- You don’t have to read at bedtime – some people just can’t stay awake to read when they’re in bed…no matter how early they retire so they can try to get through a book. If you’re one of these people, it’s important that you schedule your reading time in the morning or other time in the day when you’re fresh and ready to rumble with the characters in your book.
- Look for the tiny reading opportunities – read while your littles bathe or while dinner is cooking. While not always distraction free, these stolen moments can add a lot to your day in the way of personal satisfaction and reading enjoyment.
- Mobile reading moments – I like reading on my iPhone when I’m standing in line at Costco or waiting at the doctor’s office. Again, while not distraction free, we often don’t have the ideal environment for reading, but we can still read and enjoy.
It takes commitment and determination to develop a habit of reading. While it’s important to try to create an environment that allows you to fully enjoy your fiction reading, it’s more about adapting to the environment at hand than waiting until the environment is ideal for you.
How do you enhance your reading enjoyment? Do you block out a specific time? Send your family on an errand? Steal time to read every chance you get? Share your tips with me.
Photo credit: bbc [dot] co [dot] uk