Books have been a presence in my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved to read, and love being surrounded by books. Books open your eyes and mind to new ideas, places, people, and cultures. They transport you into new worlds and let your imagination run wild in a way that watching a screen can’t replicate.
Yet, there have been times where I’ve lost my reading groove and struggle. When my brain won’t shut down and let me enjoy a story or, when the words on a page dance before my eyes instead of imprinting them. When I’m in a reading rut these are 7 things that help me read more, enjoy reading and look forward to picking up and getting lost in a book.
1. Choose your vehicle
When it comes to reading books, I need a physical copy that I can feel and smell. I’ve never been able to read e-books. I enjoy long-form articles and essays on a screen (the weekly 9 things to read is testament to that), but a book must be paper. I want to be able to mark pages, share it and I enjoy reading away from screen time. I also know when I read most, and that is on Shabbat. Shabbat is a day on which I do not use any screens or technology – books are what I turn to instead. If you like e-books, use them. If you like physical books, use them. And if you prefer audio books, then that counts too. Find the vehicle you enjoy and that suits when and how you like to read.
2. Make it a daily habit
Schedule specific times in your days to read. For me this isn’t a set hour but rather associated with another action. I try read a few pages every morning while I’m having my morning coffee and then again, a chapter or two before going to sleep. Where you choose to insert reading breaks in your day is dependent on your own circumstances, it may be during a lunch break or if you use public transport, on the way to and back from work. Having time daily to read, even if it’s just a page helps you read more – after all books are read page by page.
3. Find your genre
Reading is reading and it doesn’t all have to be intellectual or the classics. In her book Dear Reader, Cathy Rentzenbrink writes about the joy of reading to read and as a form of escapism – that books don’t always have to teach you something. There’s a lot of pressure to read certain books, but to enjoy reading, you have to read what you like; and that often changes depending on where you are at. Sometimes what you need is candy floss, other times you want something that’ll make you think or teach you something new. Choose books that are interesting to you as opposed to those that are on-trend or making best-seller lists.
4. Don’t be afraid to DNF
This is something that has taken me years to learn. I would always finish a book even if I wasn’t enjoying it, I felt guilty putting it down, not finishing what I started. After a string of books that I didn’t enjoy and was forcing myself to read, I realized they were making me dread something I previously enjoyed and making reading a chore. Now, I put books that I’m not enjoying aside. We have limited free time, spend it with books you enjoy. You’ll also read more by reading what you like – they always seem to go by faster.
5. Never leave home without a book
Books are a great way to pass time when you’re waiting for something or someone. I read half a book waiting in lines to renew my driver’s license, and it made the lines feel quicker. When you know you’re going to be in a queue or waiting for something or someone, take a book. It beats mindlessly scrolling through your phone.
6. Read more than one book at a time
Sounds like multi-tasking but it’s a good way of reading two different genres at once. I like reading one “learning” book and one lighter book – like a novel or even a memoir. This means that I have something to read no matter the reading mood I find myself in. I find mornings to be my best time to read learning books, when my head is fresh and ready to take in new ideas. While at night or when I want to unwind and escape, fiction or a memoir are the books I turn to.
7. Lose the pressure
We live in a world where everything is a competition and needs to be shared. How many books did you read this year? How many do you read in a week? Don’t pressure yourself to hit crazy book targets or match up to others. Read for yourself. Take a break when you need to and look at your reading as something to look forward to, a break, an escape, a means for inspiration, not another thing to tick off an achievement list.
Looking for a good book recommendation? Check our book club section for all our book reviews.