We’ve all been there. The to-be-read list is getting longer, your bookshelf is filling up, yet when someone asks you what you’re reading at the moment, you look embarrassed and murmur something about not having had the time to read recently. The reading slump. With essay deadlines, assigned reading and generally, life itself, it’s easy to let reading for pleasure fall by the wayside, so here are some simple steps to get your reading habit back on track from someone who’s been there too.
- Set an achievable goal. Setting a reading goal, be it how many books you’ll read in a year or when you’ll finish your current book by, is a great way to motivate yourself to pick up a book and keep at it. That being said, fifty books in a year isn’t going to be realistic if you’ve not been reading at all, particularly around a university schedule, so make sure it’s an aim you can see yourself achieving. Don’t set yourself up to fail with a huge mountain to climb, start small and build your way back up!
- Build reading into your routine. Next to university work, social events and other commitments, reading for fun tends to fall off the priority list, so it’s important to make time for it again. You don’t have to read for hours a day, but always having a book with you for your commute to a seminar or reading a chapter in bed each night makes huge strides towards making reading a habit again.
- Choose your book carefully. When so much of your time is spent reading what you’ve been told you need to read, it can be hard to remember that reading is meant to be fun! The one main criteria for picking your book is simple: it has to be something you can see yourself genuinely enjoying. It doesn’t have to be something ‘impressive’ or ‘cultured’ (because who’s to say what culture really is anyway), because it’s just for you, not anyone else. A simple way to start is seeing if any of your favourite films or Netflix shows are adapted from books (bonus points if it’s a series), as its content you know you already enjoy. It’s also very easy to dismiss the books in the ‘Top Ten’ charts for being too popular, but they’re bestsellers for a reason, so this can be a great place to start.
- If you’ve found a book you like, find out what’s similar. Decide what it is that worked so well for you about the book you’ve finished: the writing style, the genre? Then go from there. Pick another of the author’s books or search online for one of countless articles that will list the best books in the genre of your choosing. Even simply searching for ‘books similar to’ can yield surprisingly successful results.
- Talk to other people about books. It’s always harder to do something by yourself, so get other people involved! Not only can you commit to a shared journey of re-discovering reading but you can get excited about it together. Recommend a book to a friend and then you’ve got someone you can debate with about if the ending should have been different. If you’re wanting to try out a new genre and you’re not sure where to start, they can lend you their sci-fi collection. Find ways to make reading sociable and it won’t be something that takes away from time with friends anymore but instead, a hobby that you can share.
Hopefully now with this in mind, you’ll be one (or five) steps closer to rediscovering your love of reading, though I can’t guarantee that it’ll help your to-be-read list get any shorter…