One of my goals for this year was to read more and it’s something I have really stuck to. I’ve gotten through 8 books so far, and while this may not sound like a lot to some people – keep in mind that my aim was to read 10 in 2019 (!!) so considering that was the level of the bar, I’m pretty damn pleased with my progress.
I didn’t set the goal because I thought I should, I did it because I know how much reading nourishes me. As a writer, it feeds my creativity like nothing else. Being inspired by the way someone else puts words together is a sure-fire way to get excited about writing yourself, I find.
It’s also a part of my self-care practice. Reading gives me space to be away from screens, away from noise (in all senses of the word) and away from, well, everyday life.
Nothing makes me feel quite as relaxed as having a candle burning, a warm summer breeze from the window and time with a book that’s engrossing me.
But, I know it can be hard to find the time to read. And I think sometimes you just have to be really intentional about it and turn it into a habit… however, when you reignite that passion for reading, it gets so much easier.
So, with that in mind, here are five tips to help you fall in love with reading and make time for it.
1. Only read what *really* lights you up
How many times have you forced yourself to finish a book you’re really not enjoying? I’ve definitely done this, partly because I hope it will get better and partly because I feel like I should. The thing is, when you’re reading something you’re not enjoying, it becomes a chore. You’ll probably notice you put off reading and it feels like it takes forever to make progress.
This year I’ve decided life is too short to read books I don’t enjoy. That doesn’t mean I don’t persevere when a book doesn’t grab me immediately, it just means I’m more aware when a certain book feels like work to read. When that happens, I stop reading it and pass it on to someone who’ll love it.
When you read a book you love, reading becomes like a love affair. You can’t stop thinking about it and find yourself desperate to read just one more page. This is what it feels like to fall in love with reading – keep reading books like this!
2. Try having more than one type of book to hand
This may be more of a personal preference thing, but as I like to read both fiction and non-fiction, I always like to have one of each on the go. This means I can pick and choose which book to read, depending on what mood I’m in.
I find during the week, during the day, I prefer non-fiction, while before bed and weekends are reserved exclusively for fiction.
3. Link reading to an existing routine
This is a technique I’ve mentioned in a previous post about making new habits stick, but it bears repeating. Try to work reading into your routine by linking it to a particular part of your day. For example, I link reading to lunch breaks at work and before bed.
This means when I’ve eaten lunch and have time to relax before going back to my desk, I pull out a book, instinctually. And then when I get into bed, I know my routine is to write in my journal, read and go to bed. It may only be a couple of pages at a time, but it all adds up.
4. Track your progress
This is something I’ve only started doing this year, but am finding so motivational. I use Good Reads, where you can track what you’re reading and what you want to read. You can also set yourself challenges and follow other people on there.
If you don’t fancy an app, just note down a reading goal, keep track of what you’re reading and maybe even make some notes on how the book is making you feel – what you like about it or what you don’t like.
5. Read outside your comfort zone
When it came to fiction I made quite the home for myself in Haruki Murakami’s writing. I stuck to his books for a long time and while they are marvellous (and yes I have read one this year, and yes I do have another waiting in the wings), I was keen this year to discover other writers and indeed, other genres.
Reading more widely and diversely has been eye-opening and enriching to say the least. I’m making an effort to read more from writers of colour and LGBTQ+ writers. Personal favourites so far this year have been ‘On a sunbeam’ by Tillie Walden and ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi. After going to the Manga exhibition at the British Museum, I’m excited to try this medium too (picture below left is of the first one I want to try, ‘What did you eat yesterday?‘ by Fumi Yoshinaga).
So try picking a book outside of your comfort zone, see how it feels to broaden your horizons.
I hope these tips were useful, I would also really recommend reading these blog posts from the lovely Huma at Our Story Time: ‘Simple ways to be a better reader: nine tips to read in a more inspired way’ and ‘Books that make me want to write’. And let me know if you have any other tips in the comments.
Before I go I just want to remind you that tomorrow is the start of my Growth Spurt email challenge! Every Monday in August you’ll get an email full of prompts, tips and resources to help you plant, grow and nurture self-belief.
I’ll see you next week for a chat about self-care and how it affects our businesses.
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