How to Become a Reader
Reading is one of life’s greatest (and cheapest) pleasures. My Nana told me the other week that a friend of hers always said that if you like to read you will never be bored and I believe no truer words have been spoken! Books create worlds of imagination no TV show can produce and that’s why books are better than their on-screen depictions (usually). One of the things I love most about reading is the feeling that I get before, during, and after completing a book. Before starting a book I get a surge of excitement from the process of selecting. Roaming down aisles of 6-foot tall bookcases makes me almost as excited as going to Disneyland — last month I ventured into my local Barnes & Noble four times….in ONE week. I love skimming the spines, reading the titles, and totally judging the books by their covers. Once I have found my next read and begin, I’m instantly taken on quite an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes the rollercoaster ends and I throw up and never want to relive that experience again and sometimes I end clapping and cheering wanting to go again one more time. If that whole process of reading sounds as fun as throwing up to you then hopefully my six tips on how to become a reader will help you find the joy reading has given me, even when I read “bad” books.
Always have a book with you.
One of the hardest parts of getting into reading after years of not is just doing it, so by having a book with you at all times you will immediately have no excuse. Instead of reaching for your phone to mindlessly scroll on social media during your lunch break, grab your book and get reading. Once you build momentum, it’ll be hard to stop. Trust me.
Pencil it in!
All new habits require discipline. So just like you would schedule a workout, schedule your mind for some exercise with an hour of reading. While I love reading naturally, sometimes when a book is a bit harder to get into I’ll force myself to carve out thirty minutes to an hour of uninterrupted time to just read. Usually in that hour the book captures my interest again or if it still sucks, it means I got one hour closer to finishing it and never having to read it again. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking, I have work and other daily obligations that don’t leave me even a free thirty minutes to read. To that objection, I’ll refer you back to tip number one. You’ll be surprised how many pockets of ten or fifteen free minutes sneak up in the day. Traffic was lighter than expected and you arrived to your destination ten minutes early? Good thing you had your book sitting on your passenger seat! Dinner is in the oven for thirty minutes? Perfect time to read! Or schedule your reading time before bed! I think re-watching The Office for the eighth millionth time can wait.
Start small and highly rated.
The phrase “go big or go home" is a perfect motivational tool for most everything in life, except for reading. The easiest way to kill a new reading habit is by picking up a 600 page classic. This is why I recommend starting small and highly rated. Three hundred pages or less would be my recommendation for anyone starting out. It’s enough pages for a well developed story, but not too long to overwhelm you. Because you haven’t read a lot of books, probably since high school or college, you most likely don’t know you’re favorite genres or authors, which will help guide you in the future when picking out a new book. Good Reads is a excellent tool to take advantage of while in your beginning searches! They have countless lists of top rated books in so many different categories, book club lists like Reese’s Witherspoon’s, and more! I highly recommend starting an account and linking it to your Facebook so you can see all the books your friends are reading or have read. You can follow my account here! Starting with a top seller will give you better odds of a successful first venture.
Choose the best format for personal success - paper or digital.
Books are available in so many different formats these days, so picking the one that is best for you is key to finding success. I personally am a paper lover. While that isn't the best for the planet or my wallet (most of the time), I just can’t seem to dive into an E-book the way I can a physical copy. Flipping the pages is one of the most satisfying parts of reading for myself and seeing a ten book high stack of finished or to be read books makes me so happy. Since I’m not a e-reader, I turned to the e-readers in my favorite book club FB group, Bad on Paper Podcast. The most common compliment for e-reading over paper was the ease of it. They can commute or travel with a library full of books without the added weight. Another girl said she loved that she can read at night while her boyfriend sleeps without disturbing him. I related to this tip the most because I had picked up a book light a few months ago at Costco and when I went to use it, it was actually brighter than the lamp in our bedroom and I had to make the lonely walk down the hallway to the couch to read. Play around with each format and figure out which one is best for you!
Join of Start a Book Club.
Read any diet or exercise book and you’ll see the tip of enlisting a buddy for accountability. I believe the same for reading. A book club is a fun and motivating way to start reading. Two friends and I started a book club this summer and our monthly meetings are one of the highlights of the month for me! We started the club because two of us love to read and would always ask each other for recommendations and we also wanted to find a way to obligate ourselves to get together at least once a month and not just make vague “let’s get together soon” promises every week. The third friend was a not a reader but she joined happily even though we completely forced her into it (sorry Manda!), and since we started she is proof that joining a book club turns you into a reader. She couldn’t wait for our last meeting to discuss how frustrated she was with the ending of the book we had finished! If you can’t force a few friends to start a book club then join an e-book club like Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club or Bad on Paper Podcast’s book club (their FB group is SO fun!). I’ve spoken about BoP before and it still remains my favorite podcast. My Wednesday’s have never been better!
If you still can’t get into it, try an audiobook.
I have 100% confidence my above five points will turn anyone into a reader, but if for some reason you STILL can’t get into reading an audiobook might be your best bet. The reason I didn’t include audiobooks in point number four is because I personally don’t think you get as much understanding when you listen instead of read. Audiobooks allow you to do other things while “reading” so you are more likely to be distracted and only half-listen. Now of course, there are some people who aren’t like this and that’s why audiobooks work for them. Audiobooks are perfect for long commutes to work, plane rides, road trips, or long bouts on the treadmill, so usually busy moms opt for audiobooks. Again though, the actual experience of stopping everything to sit down and read is so rewarding for both your brain and your mental state — its the self-care act that gives over tenfold. If you’re thinking of trying out an audiobook I recommend listening to memoirs read by the author themselves. The author will know exactly how to read their words with the intended pauses, inflections, and tone that your mind might not do when you read it yourself. If you’re wondering where to get audiobooks, Audible is a great app for this but can get expensive. Visit OverDrive to see if you’re local library has audiobooks available for free (you can use OverDrive for e-books too!).
Are you ready to get reading? I hope so! Below I’ve linked all the blog posts with my book reviews, hopefully you can find a winner in there for you. If you try and fail and fall asleep, maybe someone will take a picture of you that looks as chic as Audrey.