Among the practices and habits of accomplished individuals, the most common one they share is reading consistently. Learning and striving for knowledge is probably the most useful quality that is useful in all areas of our lives. And books are perhaps the best sources of knowledge as they show you the concepts from a completely different perspective, and they put you in the shoes of the author or main character. This ability is crucial because we need to break from the bubble of our own thoughts and worldview to truly grow. The power of humanity is the ability to share our ideas and the best way to do that which we’ve come up with is the written word. Sure, in today’s world there are so many other ways to consume and learn but books are still the best ways to do that and there are a couple of reasons why.
First and foremost the format of a book forces the author to exhaust the topic to the fullest so the reader’s provided with all the necessary research and explanations. Furthermore, there is a certain barrier to entry for a book to be published so they’re usually written by experts on the topics, the content is revised and edited before it’s published, and the author has to have come up with something great since they wouldn’t otherwise spend months or years on writing.
But I’m sure you all know that books are great and the habit of reading is incredibly useful. I’m sure that your bookshelf is full of interesting titles which you promised yourself you’ll read. But the weeks keep going by, you’re still ”too busy” or coming up with other excuses, and the dust on your shelf starts to mound. And I’m also sure that the reason why you’re reading this is to learn how to get into the habit of reading, so you can finally tell your friends that you’ve also finished ”Sapiens” and ”you think the author presented some intriguing visions”. If that’s the case then you’ll not be disappointed.
1. Set a SMART goal
Why did all your previous new year’s resolutions to read fail? The answer is very simple: they just weren’t specific enough. The resolutions were probably something along the lines of ”I would like to read more next year”. This target gives you no clear direction, nothing to hang on to, and the way you form your goal matters extensively.
To make sure you will accomplish a goal first, you have to make it a SMART goal. This is the acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. So applying this principle, the resolution should sound something like this ”I am going to read at least 20 pages of a book every day of 2021”. This is definitely attainable, easy to measure, timely, extremely specific, and of course very relevant.
It is also helpful to plan your reading sessions. When writing your to-do list or planning the day in your calendar, write down a specific time block, for example,”6.30 P.M. – reading 25 pages of Little Women”. Choose whatever time works best for you and officially make it reading-time. I myself like to read before I go to sleep and after I wake up.
2. Find your genre
If you the sheer thought of reading a book makes you yawn, your focus starts to fade away after one paragraph, and you’ve accepted the fact that ”reading is just not for you” – you’ve been picking up the wrong books. A lot of people buy into the notion that reading counts only when you’re reading non-fiction or only something from which you can learn something. That’s bullshit.
Reading – fiction or not – is supposed to be a pleasure. If you don’t like what you’re reading, put it down and find something else. There’s no point in pushing yourself to finish a book that isn’t interesting. You’ll just lose time and develop resentment towards reading. Instead, try to remember the last book that you actually enjoyed, and if you can’t find any – go to the bookstore and pick a book devoted to your current interests or passions. And remember that graphic novels and comic books also count as books.
3. Bust the myths
There are so many stereotypes or expectations people have on how reading should look like. This is probably because the way we are taught to read in primary school scars us for the rest of our lives. One of the most popular false-expectation is that you have to read the WHOLE book for it to count. Once again – that’s bullshit.
When reading fiction – there are so many unnecessary descriptions and worldbuilding structures that are more than okay to skip over and you’ll still understand the plot. The same applies to non-fiction books – they are usually about a single concept that could be summarized on one page and the rest of the book are just examples of that idea. You don’t have to read all of those examples to comprehend what the author is trying to explain – they’re just there in case you still don’t get the point.
And if you read half of a book which is no longer interesting, put it down – it will still count as read and you’ll not waste your time and energy on something that is no longer serving you.
4. Find a community
You know the feeling when you realize that a friend has watched your favorite movie. You’re so excited because now you have someone with whom you can share your love and fangirl/fanboy over the characters.
Well, this is the main point of book clubs. Instead of waiting for their existing friends to read the book, they make new friends and bond over reading it together. They don’t have to worry about being annoying and talking too much about what they are reading, because this is what the meetings are for. The members share their thoughts, their likes, and their dislikes all while creating meaningful relationships because they can finally be themselves and they finally feel understood.
I’m not saying you should join a book club – although if that sounds fun, go for it – instead, start with picking a friend with a similar taste and make an arrangement that each month or every two weeks, one of you will choose a book that both of you will read, then meet and discuss it. I’m sure that reading will become more fun, you’ll be forced to finish a book because of the deadline and your relationship with the friend will be stronger than ever.
When you eventually get into the habit of reading there are so many ways to make it more pleasant, efficient, and productive, like learning to speed-read or make notes from the books to read. However, this is a completely different topic and there’s going to be an entire article dedicated to it in the future so stick around for that.