Monday, 3 April 2017

Getting Back into Reading

I'm always interested in asking people about books and reading. Do you like reading? What are you reading? How books do you read in a year? What can I say, I'm bookishly curious. A large proportion of the people I come across don't read much. Out of those, some never read, but a common story is that they loved reading as a child, and then at some point probably in their teens, they stopped reading. Now there's nothing wrong with that, growing up is a fun and challenging time, but in many cases they never go back to reading. It would be interesting to see if this pattern existed in the past, or if it is because of computer games, the internet, Netflix and all the other distractions of modern life. The result though is the same. Other people used to be really keen readers and then 'burned out' and don't enjoy it any more.

This would all be fine, I think everyone should do what makes them happy, but I think a lot of people would like to read more, and a lot more people would enjoy reading if they gave it a good go. Reading is a really rewarding experience, but sometimes you just have to work at it. Here are a few suggestions for how to get back into reading and enjoy it.

Make time to read - I'm starting off with possibly my most important suggestion. You've got to make time to read, without distractions if you can. I love reading and I generally read every day, but it is so easy to just have an extra few minutes on the internet, watching tv, or some other distraction. I still have to make the conscious decision to pull myself away from those distractions and saying I'm going to read now for 15 minutes or half an hour. It's harder when I'm not in the middle of a book. I always enjoy it though, and usually a lot more than whatever else I could be doing.

Read regularly - You should read regularly, every day if possible, to maintain your interest in a book. For every day that goes by without reading your book, you forget a little bit and lose interest in the book. Obviously the more infrequently you read, the longer it takes to read a book which in itself will make you fed up with it.

Choose the right book for you - A lot of people that have lost interest in reading or think they don't enjoy reading are probably reading the wrong type of book for them. If you don't read much or haven't read for a long time, then you shouldn't start off reading Dickens or Tolstoy. People that don't read much probably aren't that aware of what books are out there, and when they do read they read a book that someone else told them "you should really read this book", when that isn't necessarily the best thing for you. There's a perception some people have that if you are reading you *should* be reading classics or literary fiction. If you try these and find them difficult or boring, it's easy to think you just don't enjoy reading. Instead, you should perhaps be trying a fast paced crime or thriller, a young adult book, chick lit or even a graphic novel, whatever takes your fancy.

Life's too short for bad books - by that I mean books you aren't enjoying. Don't feel you have to finish every book you read. Give it more than a couple of pages - my rule of thumb is read the first 10%, or maybe a bit more if it is a short book - as a lot of books take a bit of getting into, but after the first couple of chapters if you aren't enjoying it, give up and try something else. If you don't you'll just get bogged down for weeks or months and get fed up with reading generally. Even if you find yourself halfway through and suddenly find you aren't enjoying it anymore, don't persevere, give it up. Some people have the idea that they're invested too much time in it not to finish, but why? That's dead time you can't do anything about, but you can stop yourself having to put up with any more.

Be Mindful - Mindfulness is something of a buzzword these days, the idea is if you concentrate all your attention on what you are doing at that moment, you will get more out of it, find it more useful, enjoy it more. This is true in all sorts of activities, including reading. Try and clear your mind of anything else as you read, fully immerse yourself in the story, try not to let your mind wander. You'll enjoy the reading experience much more because of it.

Don't Force It, Take a Break - Sometimes life is really busy and stressful. Reading can help that in many cases, providing an escape and a comfort, but not all the time. Don't stress yourself out feeling you've got to read. If you've tried everything else, but you are still not enjoying it then stop for a while. Give yourself a break, and come back in a few weeks or months when things have calmed down. This is also a good idea if you've been reading a lot, perhaps for studying, and are fed up with it. Give it a rest, try again at a later date.

I hope some of these suggestions are useful. Have you got any other ideas for how to get back into reading or how to enjoy it more? If so, post them in the comments below and share with everyone!