I also thought that I’d write about reading regularly because I suddenly realised that – aside from the novel I reviewed yesterday- I’d only read four or five books during the previous year. This was practically nothing compared to late 2009/mid-2010 (where, by my count, I must have read at least 12-15 novels, if not more). And even this is probably a small number in comparison to the amount I was reading per year 10-15 years ago.
Yet, after I read the book I reviewed yesterday, I felt something. Even though I had mixed opinons about the book itself, I felt refreshed after reading it. Like having a long sleep or something like that. And my reaction was something like “Ah, I remember this! It’s been too long!”
So, how can you get back into reading regularly?
1) Enjoy it: You aren’t going to feel motivated to read more if you start by reading books that you don’t enjoy. So, go for the books that really grab your interest or which seem relaxing in some way or another. These might be different to what you used to read regularly, and they might be a little bit “low-brow”. But, it doesn’t matter.
The whole point is to remind yourself of why you enjoy reading. I mean, I always used to enjoy sci-fi, detective and horror novels (with maybe the occasional thriller too). But, when I got back into reading recently, it was thriller novels that did the job. They’re books that grab your attention and refuse to let go. They make you want to come back for more. They’re like an emergency boot disk for a malfunctioning computer or something like that. So, the thing that gets you back into reading might not be the thing you expect.
One idea that tends to get bandied about is that, these days, books have to compete with the internet, TV shows, computer games etc.. And, this is true – they do. But, this isn’t the bad thing that some people make it out to be.
It just means that you have to find a book that is good enough to compete with these other things. And, this is easier than you might think. After all, there is no shortage of gripping thriller, detective, romance, horror etc.. novels out there. So, choose a genre that intrigues you and keep browsing until a book really grabs your attention.
Your time is a precious resource, and a book needs to be worthy of it (even if there’s more competition these days ). So, don’t be afraid to be discerning or to follow your instincts. The important thing is to look at lots of books. The more you do this, the higher chance there will be one that will insist that you read it. And, after that one, you might want to read another. Then another….
2) Don’t try to analyse too much: Unless you’re working out concrete ways to get back into reading, don’t get too hung up on why you moved away from books. Not only will this make you feel disappointed or guilty, but it can also allow you to come up with excuses for reading less.
Just find the most interesting novel that you can and try to read the first chapter. If it doesn’t grab you and make you want to read more, then find another book and try the same thing. Keep going until you find one that makes you want to read more.
Nostalgia is a bit of a double-edged sword here though. Sometimes the feeling of “I should read more” can translate to “I wish I was younger again“. The trick to dealing with this is to focus on recapturing the feeling of reading more (kind of a subtle relaxing, meditative, immersive etc.. kind of feeling) rather than the memories of the times when you read more. One is an emotion that can be achieved again, the other is part of the past (that, until someone invents time travel, can’t be revisited fully).
3) Think about it differently: A lot of the trouble these days is that reading is often seen as some kind of puritanical, virtuous exercise. And, if you’re the kind of person who loves things like “clean eating”, self-righteous lecturing, 5am jogging, digital detoxes etc… then this is great for you. But, what do you do if you’re a sensible person who believes that life should actually be enjoyed?
The easiest way to get over the pretentious puritanical nonsense that is associated with reading these days is to think about reading in a way that makes it seem “cool” to you.
Think about it like experiencing the best form of “virtual reality” ever invented. Think about it like rebelling against crappy modern Hollywood superhero movies. Think of it like hanging out with a cool author for a few hours. Think of it like binge-watching an entire TV series (the two things can feel very similar, if you’ve found a good book or an excellent TV series). I could probably go on for a while.
Just think of it in a way that makes it seem “cool” and appealing to you. For example, this was why I read so much when I was younger. Since film censorship was a little bit stricter when I was a teenager and since there were times when I didn’t look old enough to bluff my way into “18 rated” horror films at the cinema or buy them on video/DVD, reading old second-hand splatterpunk novels, “controversial” novels etc… was my way of rebelling against patronising official film censorship. It felt really cool and, as such, I read a lot (and kept doing so for quite a while after I turned 17/18).
So, find a way of thinking about reading which makes it feel like a really cool thing to do.
4) Physical books: Ok, I might sound a little bit old-fashioned here – but physical books (rather than E-books) are the best thing to use when getting back into reading.
This is mostly because physical books will probably remind you of the times you really enjoyed reading. After all, your first experiences of reading for enjoyment were probably with good, solid, physical books. E-books are, after all, a relatively recent invention.
Your joyous memories of reading will probably be associated with things like the act of turning pages, the distinctive aromas of old and new books, the satisfying weight of holding an actual book and a whole host of other things that you don’t get with text on a screen.
Plus, if you’ve spent a fair part of the day staring at a computer screen, then looking at a traditional printed page can be a good way to take a break from this whilst still having the enjoyable experience of reading text. Because, well, reading text is fun. I mean, why do you think that the internet is still a thing?
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂