Reading is loved by many but practised only by a few. Ever wonder why?
More often than not daily life, responsibilities and “important” things come in between you and your love for the written (or the printed) word. Oft times we get too involved or busy in other things that we have no time for something as “time-consuming” or as “frivolous” as reading. Right? WRONG. All these are nothing more than excuses that we tell ourselves because if you really want to read, you will read – simple as that.
If you love books then they should be important enough for you to make some space for in your everyday life. Reading is my first love and I manage to read anywhere from 2 to 10 books a month. I am a novelist, editor and critic by profession, so sometimes work comes in the way (like it always does), but so far, in the last 7 years, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t reading anything.
This article is for those book lovers who haven’t been able to cultivate a reading habit for some reason and need a direction to follow or have, for whatever reason, fallen out of the reading habit and looking for a way back in. This article is also for those parents who want to incorporate the habit of reading in their child’s routine.
How To Develop A Reading Habit
1) Sketch out a TBR list
Cultivating a reading habit, or any habit for that matter takes a bit of planning. TBR list is short for a To-Be-Read list – a list of books you want to read. Preparing a list of books ahead would not only help you in knowing what exactly to get but will also set the mood for a great start. Search the internet for top ten new releases, go through the first 10-12 lists you find and note down the books that are common in all or most of the lists. Then go through the blurbs of these books (the summaries at the back cover) and check out some reviews. You’ll know which ones you want to read.
Another thing you can do is rake the corners of your mind and try to remember what books (classics or otherwise) you’ve always wanted to read? Throw some of these names in your new TBR too. This way your TBR-list would have a mix of new and old books which will make the experience more exciting!
2) Get the books on your TBR pile
Check the pricing of the books online, if you like what you see then buy the books in your preferred format. If you don’t like what you see, then check your local bookstore or get the book from a library. If the prices of paperbacks or hardbacks are too much, then try going for e-books; they are generally cheaper and can be read on any device including the most basic smartphones. Lastly, try and get at least 1 audiobook. You can get the audio versions for free for almost all the classics, so you can try those instead of buying new ones.
Living in this amazing digital age provides so many options when it comes to book formats, so go crazy and try them all! You might love the snazzy new Electronic or Audiobook versions that you might have been sceptical about.
3) Create goals
Now that you have the books, chalk out your goals because without goals you won’t get far. Set a monthly goal and a yearly goal (once you get into the habit of reading, you can set weekly goals too!) For monthly goals, set the number of books you want to complete in a month. To be on a safe side, start with one. Then gradually go up from there.
If you want to stick to one book a month only, then your yearly goal would be 12 books in a year, but that’s rarely the case because you’ll find books you simply can’t read fast enough and will end up finishing them earlier. Also, with each passing month, your speed will increase and so will your capacity, so there’s a good chance that you’ll be reading more than 12 books. I’d suggest setting 15 books a year at the least if you are serious about developing and sustaining a reading habit. Bookworms read 100, 200 and some even 500 books a year, so don’t underestimate yourself.
4) Create a routine
If you want to really get into the habit of reading, set aside anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour daily as reading time. It can be while you have you are morning coffee or breakfast, or in the afternoon just before your power nap or with evening tea or, my favourite, just before sleeping in the night (bed-time reading.) Do note that this is the time you will be consciously putting into reading – you will deliberately sit in a comfortable chair or sofa or bed in the cosiest place in the house and put an effort and read the book you’ve picked up. Your reading time should not be affected by other times you might decide to read the book during the day.
5) Utilize weekends or holidays
Read twice (or thrice) the number of pages or chapters you generally read on the weekends. If you have a book that is not too long (under 150 pages) then try and finish it over the weekend. It’ll be a great boost to your confidence in your reading abilities.
Same way, try and use at least 2-3 days when you get some time off of work or household activities.
6) Always carry a book
No matter if you’re going to work or just taking a walk to the local park, or going to school or college, always (and I mean always!) carry a book. You should always have a book at hand in case if you have to wait for someone or if you get some free time on your commute from one place to another or maybe if the queue you’re waiting in, takes a really long time to move? These and many more opportunities always knock on your doors when you have a book to indulge in at hand. It can be the book you’re already reading or some other book entirely.
7) Check off the books and add new ones
Check off the books you’ve finished. Strike them through and I bet you’ll feel ecstatic doing it. Don’t forget to add new books that you find along the way or that someone recommends you, but keep in mind not to add 10 new books for every 1 book you read. It’ll be an overkill. Cut off 1 and add another. Stick to this as much as you can. But again, don’t limit yourself entirely.
Once in a while, ditch your TBR and pick up a random some good book that you come across or maybe a book whose adaptation is going to be released int he coming weeks. Or maybe ask a friend for some recommendation or their favourite book in general and give it a go – there are so many possibilities!
Now that you have developed or at least started with a reading habit, try to go for different genres. Explore new genres and revisit the old ones from your past. It’ll add another layer of self-indulgence to your reading experience.
Also, try and connect with other readers amongst your friends or join online or local book clubs to be in the know-how of new releases and to discuss books you’re reading or want to read. I myself run an online book club on Goodreads, RMFAO, and it has helped me tremendously in reading more and better books. I am also a member of a couple of Facebook reading pages and they all are amazing and the interacting makes reading more fun as we share our progress, book hauls and random reading related thoughts there with other like-minded people.
In a couple of months, before you even know it, you’d be reading more than you ever imagined you would and that too without even trying too hard.
Reading is a beautiful adventure and it should be enjoyed thoroughly in order to fully experience it.
Note: All the images used here are my own and can also be found at my blog's Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thereadingbud/