Read More: 4,746,560 searches
This is how many times this came up when people searched “self-improvement” at the beginning of the New Year. Over 4 million searches for how simply reading more everyday positively influences our life.
With that being said, every single year I have had some sort of “read more” on my goals for the year. Whether that be to read every night before I go to bed, join a book club, or to just read a book a month, it always makes the list, but it never happens. I am a fast reader, love reading, and always have, so why is it that I can never get myself to do it?
To put it plainly, I get distracted. Books and words are not as flashy as so many of the things in our daily life, and because it can’t fight hard for our attention, it often loses. This is why we have to fight for it.
Reading is something that is all around, so good for us. Not only does it increase our vocabulary, communication, analytics, and memory, but studies have shown that it always increases one’s level to have empathy with one another. They even say that by reading fiction novels, people are better able to see the world through other people’ eyes more easily.
I recently read this fascinating article on TIME.com about how important it is not only for people to read, but even more so how they read. “Human beings were never born to read,” states Maryanna Wolf, the director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University. Our brains were not necessarily created to be able to read written words, but more so to understand and process the spoken. The “reading circuits” as she calls them, are circuits that initially had a different purpose in life, but we have shaped them into being used for reading. With that being said though, these are things that can easily atrophy if we are not using them intentionally and frequently.
So, if being smarter, more empathetic, more understanding, and more articulate doesn’t encourage you to want to pick up a book, hopefully the fact that certain areas of your brain are sitting there being useless will.
Now, as stated before, amidst the busyness and chaos of life, with so many loud things calling for our attention, it is very hard to find the time to sit down with a book in hand and read uninterrupted. However, it is something that is so important, and worth the effort.
- Buy the actual book: I recently found that if I bought a physical copy of the book, I was much more likely to read it through. For one, since I had spent money on it, I wanted to get my money’s out of it. But also, seeing it lying around constantly reminded me to pick it up time and time again. I have a Kindle and love it, but when I am unmotivated, it is easy to forget about the book I are reading when it is tucked away in a screen.
* Don’t buy 3 books all at once if you have a habit for starting and not finishing books. I motivate myself to finish the one I am reading by not letting myself buy a new one until I fully complete the one at hand.
- Read a variety: Don’t limit yourself. Be open to every kind of book. You never really love until you try it. A good rule of thumb I try to go by is to go back and forth between a fiction and a non-fiction. The reason I like this so much, is because I typically read a non-fiction that is a thinker, or challenging, and those are the ones I learn from. But then, as soon as I’m finished with that, I pick up a fiction. Something a little easier to read and lighter. It helps to keep the momentum going.
- Take a bath: If you are in the bathtub, you can’t get distracted by other responsibilities. Take a 20 minutes bath a couple times a week and just read. You have nothing else to do while you’re in there.
- Shut down 30 minutes early, but read on the couch: I have always been told to try going to bed early and read at night. This doesn’t work for me, because I end up falling asleep without fail. Instead, start getting ready for bed about 45 minutes before you want to go to bed, but instead of getting in bed, go sit in a comfy chair or on the couch. Read there for about 30 minutes. It will help you wind down without the temptation of just falling asleep.
- Overdrive: This is an app that allows you free access to to thousands of books and audiobooks from your library. All you do is sign in with your library card, that we all probably have stashed in our wallets, and you have a digital library to borrow at your fingertips. Audio-books are such an easy way to “read” since so many of us spend so much time on the go. Whether it is in the car or on the bus, cleaning the house, or simply cooking dinner. Instead of filling our hours with just music, we can fill it with the written word. You can also link it to your Kindle.
- Book of the Month Club: This is a club that has been around since 1926. Every month they pull together the best new books, and for a flat rate every month, you get to choose one of the hottest new books. Sometimes they even have access to books before they are out to the public, and they are constantly doing the research and leg work for you. Also, through subscribing, you get the books significantly cheaper than you would find them anywhere else.
- Take it with you: Always have a book on hand, because you never know when you are going to need it. Whether it is waiting for an appointment, a table, or just while you are eating or having coffee alone. This is when a Kindle is really helpful because it is so light and compact.
- Talk books with people: The more you begin to talk to people about what they are reading, the quicker your list of books that you want to read is going to grow. It also is nice to have conversation topics that aren’t just our work or our children.These are all just a few tips to get you into the habit of reading. Don’t be surprised if after some intentionality, it becomes something that you love. Something that you actually look forward to. The amount of knowledge we have out there is almost limitless, and all we have to do is pickup a book and start.
Here is my list of “want-to reads”. Most of them come recommended from word of mouth, podcasts, or reviews:
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi
- Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
- Hey Harry, Hey Matilda by Rachel Hulin
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Stretch by Scott Sonenshein
- Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
- Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
So now it’s your turn. What are good books you’ve read, are reading, or have on your list? Please share!
Photography by Samantha Brooks.