As many other self-proclaimed “readers” can attest, there are unspoken droughts where our love of books can get slightly confused with dread. Despite being halfway through a University degree in Literature, my last one persisted for years. The unwavering pressures of modern high school curriculum combined with a lack of freetime makes it easy to forget that literature is meant for entertainment as much as education. It’s just about finding that drive again.
The first step is rewiring how your brain views reading. If you’re only experiencing textbooks or required readings for class, then can you blame yourself for categorizing it as “work”? Finding genres that speak to you in the sense of entertainment makes it easier to transition from staring at TV screens for hours on end to picking up that novel.
It was thrillers that gifted me with the indulgence of revisiting that finish-a-book-in-one-sitting glee. Hyper aware that the money spent on it would be more cost-effective if relished and spread out over time, but physically unable to stop turning the pages. My eyes become blurry and my side starts aching from so much time spent curled up on the couch, but it’s worth it. At times like this, I can’t imagine putting down my book to watch a Friends rerun for the tenth time, so why is it so hard to ignite that flame?
Full disclosure, my friends’ desire to start a book club as a way to keep in touch helped greatly with this process and subsequently drained my bank account after a few local bookshop trips. I’ve never swiped my card faster than after scouring Goodreads reviews and compiling my list of entertainment for the next few days in the form of paperbacks. It’s almost the same price as going to see a movie in theaters, right? We deserve to treat ourselves sometimes.
Having other people there in our book club to hold me accountable really helped with motivation to start. And as the weeks went on, I found myself frustrated that I had to stop at our weekly boundaries. I wanted to keep reading! I was momentarily transported to those days as a kid constantly with a book in hand. In the car, in restaurants, at the store… you name it. With that feeling within my grasp, I decided to cling onto it with full force. I never want to lose it again.
The thing is, that insatiable urge to finish a book doesn’t need to come once in a blue moon. As with any other form of entertainment, you just need to find your niche. The act of reading isn’t the deterrent, it’s usually the content.
When I compile a playlist of music, it takes some trial and error before I find artists that speak to me. It’s the same with reading; songs are just shorter and often more digestible. If you feel like reading isn’t “your thing,” then you’re not reading the right books. You’re not reading the ones that ease your stress instead of enhancing it. You’re not reading the books that grab you by the chest and yank you out of burnout. And they’re out there waiting for you to find them.
One of the best ways to do this is by finding a bookworm friend, explaining your situation, and asking to borrow a book. Chances are, they’ll be able to help you narrow down your favorite tropes, writing styles, and more while still exposing you to new ones. Plus, the perks to borrowing include someone to hold you accountable(You are borrowing, so you’ve got to give it back sometime.) and a happy wallet.
Don’t force yourself to read; spend your time reading books that excite you. Find ones where you have to pry your hands off to put it down. I promise it’s more rewarding than sitcom reruns.