Creating a Book Habit
I think the comment that I hear the most from people, and I'm sure that Chrissy does as well, is - how do start a reading habit? Which seems like a really easy question to answer and for those of us that love to read, it's not really a choice. Reading is like eating or breathing, it is something that is required for our own self-care. However, it's not so easy if you aren't into reading or if like so many people over the last 18 months, you simply didn't have the bandwidth for reading and got out of the habit. Seriously, we get it! It seems like the perfect time to discuss ways to create a reading habit.
First things first, let's get this sticky little notion out of the way - there is no such thing as "bad" reading. A book is a book is a book. The biggest stumbling block to creating a reading habit is getting trapped by the idea that you need to be reading the classics or the latest award winner. For some people, that may be true but, for most people, it is simply not the case. Don't start out with War and Peace by Tolstoy (no shade to Tolstoy, he's one of my favorites but it is not exactly easy reading) or Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (who doesn't love a good footnote, but it's just too much). Find something that suits what you enjoy in life. Do you love picking up a People magazine or Us Weekly to pass the time? Great, then embrace that and find titles that fit your craving for a little celebrity gossip. Titles like Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (you can check out my review here) or Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuisten may be the perfect fit. Bottom line is to find something that already interests you and run with it. If you have someone in your life that loves to read, they will be happy to give you suggestions on books to pick up or you can reach out to us at email@example.com and we will give you some! I guarantee you that there are books out there for you that make it so easy to pick them up!
Second is find what medium you like read. Here's a little secret, reading doesn't actually have to be a physical book! I love a good hardcover, I love the way they smell, and how they look on my shelves but the fact is that they are heavy and I don't actually enjoy reading that way. Using my kindle is the best way for me to consume my book, so maybe try putting a book on your tablet, and see if that makes it easier. If not, you still have the option of an audiobook. There are those out there that will tell you that listening to a book is not reading a book and I could not disagree more. Again, a book is a book is a book. Either way, you are getting the story, engaging with the characters, and consuming an authors work. Do you have a long commute? Perfect, try an audiobook. Do you work at home and have mindless tasks that you need to get through? Amazing, try an audiobook. Both Audible and your local library have audiobooks for you to listen to. They can be a really great way to try something different and still build your book habit. My go-to suggestions for those wanting to try audiobooks are The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Both of the narrators do an absolutely incredibly job of sweeping you into the story.
Third is set a goal and make the time to complete that goal. What it looks like for you when you do this is going to be entirely unique to you. Personally, I am a read before bed kind of person, but that may not work for you. Reading can be a wonderful way to start your day before it gets going or your lunch break may be a better fit. Whatever it looks like, set a short goal for your day then do it. It's often easiest to do this when you are pro-active about making sure that you have a book with you at all times and bring it out. You will shocked at how much you actually make it through when you are consistent. Additionally, finding a book buddy is great way to make it so you build this time out. There's nothing more fun than finding someone who loves the same book that you do.
When my dad passed away several years ago, I got out of my book habit, and I was able to use all three of these things to get back in my reading groove. It's actually what set me on the path to writing about what I was reading. I started by setting a goal for the number of books that I wanted to read by the end of the year in Goodreads and actively kept track of what I was reading. It felt so good to have the numbers tick up each time and you can share your progress online. Then, I picked a reading challenge that I wanted to do for the year. Reading Challenges are great because you have a prompt like, "A Book by an Indigenous Author," then you get to pick whatever book fills that prompt. I liked that I was sometimes slightly outside of comfort zone, but still had control over what I was picking so that I could make sure it fit the things that I love to read about. BookRiot, The Reading Women, and Popsugar all have wonderful challenges that they create every year and you can use Goodreads to connect with others that are doing them to get suggestions and build a reading community. Those are just some of the most popular ones, but you can go as broad or as niche as you want to. When getting out of my slump, I got a book buddy and we did the Reading Women Challenge. We would take turns choosing the book then discuss it over coffee or text if we couldn't meet in person. Finally, I focused on reading in my most comfortable form both by using my kindle and really only reading the books that I wanted to read. If I pick something up and I'm not enjoying it after a couple chapters, I set it down and move on. Life is too short to waste it on things you don't enjoy.
Each of these steps will help you to start putting more reading in your life. Always remember though that it's meant to be fun! What has worked for you when you were in a book slump? Any advice that you would give to budding readers?
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