We live in a society that glorifies the idea of instantaneous satisfaction. With social media at our fingertips, we have quick access to millions of articles and short bits of information. However, our continually declining attention spans have proven to decrease essential reading comprehension skills. As a former avid reader, I’ve caught myself starting to fall into this pattern. How was I able to read Charles Dickens and Jane Austen in high school, but unable to pay attention during the duration of a short story in college? It was after this realization that I made it my personal mission to get back into reading books seriously. Here’s how I fell in love with reading all over again.
When I first embarked on my reading mission, I thought of ways to accommodate books into my everyday schedule. To start, I renewed my library card, which offers a digital consortium of free eBooks and audiobooks through a streamlined app. Through this I was able to take books on the go, whether it was walking to class, riding the bus and everything in between. Audiobooks offered a way to read in increments, and allowed me to experience the thrill of being fully in the moment.
After I discovered what method of reading was most efficient for me, I then tasked myself with truly understanding the book’s material. I identified that my inability to analyze books was from not being able to focus for long periods of time. It was only when I picked up a pen and highlighter that I discovered a whole new realm of active reading. By underlining important phrases, highlighting the words that sparked emotion and writing notes to myself in the margins of the pages, the books I read seemed to come alive in a way I had never experienced before. My mind was forced to concentrate on this new task and I found a foolproof way to keep myself on track.
Although I had my own routine of reading and comprehending books, I sought out other people’s perspectives for book recommendations and ideas. I have a friend who is an artist, and she reads books much like she creates paintings—slow and deliberate, making notes on each page. Conversely, my brother skims pages like flipping through a magazine, only stopping when something catches his eye. Be that as it may, these distinct methods of reading broadened my own perspective over time. Despite the fact that the Internet had once fried my brain, it now also provided me with valuable resources for reading material. I found a hidden passion for reading the data-driving subgenre of nonfiction (read: Freakonomics and Innumeracy) through Instagram recommendations, and explored alternative methods of reading by subscribing to every reading blogger I could find. Their excitement and enthusiasm sparked my own curiosity to read and discuss books.
These changes were the result of much time and effort, but they helped me to rediscover my love for reading even the most brain-working books. And it has definitely been a valuable, incredible journey.