We’re fast approaching the end of the year, and if last January’s resolution included “getting through all the books on my reading list” … well, you know what happened. Somewhere along the way, the internet, television, and other social activities got into the way of your reading schedule.
It’s not too late, though, because you still have several weeks in which you can kickstart your reading program, and take the first steps to developing the lifetime reading habit you know you want.
Have a plan
First things first. Get a list of books you want to read. That list has probably created itself already – it’s the pile of books waiting for you to give them a bit of your attention.
Write down everything you want to read by the time the year ends. Be realistic. It’s OK if that’s just one book. The point here is to commit to reading and know exactly what’s expected of you.
An extra tip: if you don’t have a reading list yet, ask friends and colleagues for their recommendations and find the new best sellers on the New York Times or similar lists. A simple search of your favorite genre can offer you plenty of ideas to get started!
Which brings us to the next tip.
Read what you want to read, not what you have to read
Your reading list should be one you’ll look forward to going through. Remember when you had reading assignments at school and you were bored out of your mind because the genre seemed irrelevant and uninspiring to you?
Don’t do that to yourself.
Find a genre you consider fascinating and delve into it headfirst. Discover who the best authors and books are in your favorite genre and you’ll find yourself enjoying the act of reading a bit more with every page you turn.
Understand the benefits of reading
One of the reasons why so many people have given up on reading is because they do not fully understand what’s in it for them. Yes, you’ve read that book, but what does it mean? More than you might imagine, actually. Reading offers us whole chunks of wisdom and new knowledge and creates a space of empathy and humanity in our hearts.
Reading is good for you as a person, but also as a professional. It’s what will give you a headstart on your pursuit of that promotion and what will make you stand out among your colleagues.
So reading for pleasure or for work is beneficial for you, no matter if you’re reading a book on a bestseller list or the latest article in a trade journal at the office.
Carry a book around at all times
You know the kind of excuses we all make when we catch ourselves seeking a way out of reading. “This email is urgent,” we say, or “Oh, I must take that call.” Worst of all is this excuse: “I forgot the book at home.”
Don’t be an excuse-maker! Instead, carry a book around with you at all times. There are plenty of reading opportunities in your day, and likely more than you thought possible.
Waiting in line for your morning latte or at the bank, sitting on the train going back home in the evening or on the soccer field at your child’s afternoon practice – these are just a few examples of such windows of reading opportunity. Having your book with you means you can delve into it and shut off everything around and enjoy yourself in the act of reading. Isn’t that marvelous?
Be smart about buying books
Books are comparatively cheap, but even their price can be discouraging if you’re really focused on reading more.
One solution is to get an e-reader or tablet so you can download books on it for a fraction of the cost. Plus it’s easier and lighter to carry around than a 750-page book.
You can visit a local library and search for new and older gems you could read for free. Have a walkthrough at second-hand bookstores or get your next book online on Amazon, Swap or any other online bookstore.
Read to someone (or read to yourself)
Imagine someone with a soft, soothing voice reading to you out of your favorite book. Think Jim Dale, Roy Dotrice, Maya Angelou, or Stephen Fry. You’re instantly immersed in the book’s mood and it’s even easier to shut out everything that distracts you.
But what if that person reading to you – is you? Reading to yourself makes the whole process feel more intimate and special. As you both read and listen to the story you automatically devote your undivided attention to the task. The result is a fulfilling reading experience you’ll want to repeat.
Make a ritual out of it
This is another way of saying “schedule time for reading.” To ensure you’re successful in kick-starting and maintaining your reading habit, it must become just that: a habit.
And there’s no better way to form a habit than turning it into a pleasant ritual that you will look forward to every day!
For some people, it’s reading before bedtime, tea in hand, book in the other, snuggling under their warmest, fluffiest duvet. For others, the best reading time is while commuting to work, earphones in place, blocking out the noise of travel. When everyone else is thinking of the work day ahead, these readers are someplace else; someplace more fascinating and more exhilarating.
Reading is a worthwhile habit for several reasons. Apart from its many personal and professional benefits, it’s a ritual that will make you a better, open-minded person; a person who thirsts for knowledge, a person with sharpened curiosity and a determination to know the world better and deeper.
Start your reading habit today, and by the beginning of the New Year it will already be an indispensable ritual in your daily life.