How to Read More in 2020

As a student, it can be hard to find the time or energy to practice your hobbies, especially if one of those hobbies is reading. When you get back home after a long day of grueling lectures and studying, the last thing you want to do is open a book. This can be doubly hard when you’re a language and literature student because having to read so many books for school can put you off of reading for fun. For these reasons, I’ve personally been struggling to read for pleasure, which is why I’ve made it my New Year’s resolution to read more. I’ve put together a list of ways to get myself back into the reading groove, and hopefully they may be of use to you, too.

  1. 1. Make it a Team Effort

    Tell your friends and family about your reading goals for the year and ask them to hold you accountable. You can return the favor by holding them accountable for their own resolutions, so it’s a win-win. You can also join one of many online communities (Goodreads, for example) conducting year-long reading challenges This way, you’ll feel like you’re part of a team and become more actively engaged in your books by participating in related forums and discussions online.

  2. 2. Read What You Want, Not What You “Should”

    Don’t read something just because you feel like you should for your own self-betterment or cultivation. For example, don’t force yourself to read Shakespeare’s or Dickens’ works because they’re considered literary masterpieces. Read books that genuinely interest you. This is an especially important point to keep in mind if you’re a language or literature student such as myself; since we’re always reading classics for school, reading them for fun as well can sometimes feel like a chore or an intellectual overload. Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed if what you want to read is a light and fluffy YA novel or a cliché romance.

  3. 3. Get Some Recommendations

    This is age-old advice but I think it works: Ask people in your life for reading recommendations. I personally find it daunting to choose what to read next, so I prefer putting the decision in someone else’s hands. Don’t fall into the trap of reading a thousand reviews to figure out if the recommended book is worth your time. Even if you end up disliking it, you can still use your dislike to your advantage. For example, you can discuss the book with others, write a book review for a blog or school assignment, keep the author’s shortcomings in mind in order to improve your own writing, etc. I find it important to remind myself that a bad book is never a waste of time, but instead a potential conversational ice-breaker, a useful learning experience or an opportunity for personal creative growth. Plus, you can’t truly appreciate a good book if you haven’t read any bad ones. Book recommendations also have the added benefit of helping you branch out and get out of the echochamber of your usual genres, characters and plotlines.

  4. 4. Just Do It

    This seems self-evident but let me explain what I mean. Sometimes, when you’re struggling to get some kind of task done, the solution is to make yourself start doing it rather than putting yourself in the state of mind to want to do it. The task might be something you typically enjoy but are dreading for some reason. For example, I occasionally dread starting a new novel—an activity I usually enjoy—because it means that I will have to become emotionally invested in the characters and—as an introvert—that means I will have to expend a considerable amount of my energy. The solution is to temporarily shut your brain off, physically stand yourself up, walk towards your bookshelf, grab a book and simply open it up to the first page, and you will find yourself reading despite yourself.

  5. 5. Replace Phone Time with Reading Time

    One of the reasons it is becoming increasingly harder for us to read is because we are distracted by our phones. Our attention spans have become shorter because of the instant gratification that the Internet and various social media platforms offer us, so reading can sometimes feel comparatively tedious. My advice would be to place daily time limits on each of your apps, which you can do through the settings of your phone if you’re an Apple user or through Google’s Digital Wellbeing app if you use an Android. This will force you to spend more time reading instead of listlessly scrolling through your social media feed, which will bring you more happiness and satisfaction in the long run.

I hope these tips help you in your 2020 reading journey; may you laugh, cry and make a dent in the perpetually growing stack of books on your nightstand.