Did you know May is “Get Caught Reading” month?
Yeah, me either. I found out because I was trying to make a list of books to help me get back into reading and stumbled upon it. So what is it? Get Caught Reading is supported by hundreds of celebrities, and it’s “a nationwide public service campaign launched by the Association of American Publishers to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read.”
So that’s that . . . back to my point. I think it’s fair to say most of us feel like we’re starved for time and—no matter how much we keep saying we want to read more—reading is often pushed to the back corner of our lives. (And if you don’t do that, lie to me so I don’t feel too alone.)
Reading is good for your soul!
Reading isn’t only one of the greatest pleasures in life, it’s greatly beneficial as well. It helps improve your ability to focus, increases intelligence, enriches vocabulary, can help you relax, and most amazingly it provides new experiences and emotions. This is true for both fiction and nonfiction lovers. You know what’s sad though? Studies reveal that reading is at an all-time low. I know I’ve fallen off the wagon and I don’t understand why. I love, I mean LOVE, reading, and yet . . . here I am trying to make a schedule of my life that includes reading.
I think part of the problem is that deep concentrated reading (why bother otherwise?) requires not just time, but a special kind of time. You can’t multitask reading while watching TV or while doing anything else; it requires your full attention. I can look back to times in my life when it was just so easy to do. So what’s changed?
Why is it so hard to find time to read?
Most likely, we all believe it’s because we’re busy. We have to work, clean the house, make dinner, work out, watch TV, catch up with social media, play video games, and . . . there it is. We do have the time; we just choose to use it for other things.
We simply don’t make reading a priority anymore. We all know there is no secret. As simple as it sounds, finding time to read is about how you allocate your time.
What if you’re choosing the wrong books to read?
Well, you know what? That’s entirely possible. I personally have issues here . . . because I truly feel I must finish what I start. It can honestly mess with my reading pace and can throw me off. But it never held me back because reading something I’m not into has made me read it faster . . . so I can move on freely to another book (did I mention I have to finish what I start?). Only once can I recall ever putting a book down and saying, “No thanks.” I can’t remember which book right now, but if I encounter this problem again, I wish to train myself to put it away and pick up something else instead. Life is too short for that. Here’s the thing though:
Picking up a bad book is WAY better than not picking up any book at all.
If you love reading, then make room for it in your day. Just like I can carve out 30 minutes here and there to work out, I can carve out 30 minutes to read.
“Reading can be a priceless opportunity to furnish your mind
and enrich the quality of your life.”
- David Ogilvy
Here are some tricks to help getting back into reading:
Schedule a daily reading time. Of course, this is easier said than done, but I’m sure you can think of a few times in your day when you're not doing much else. And if you can only get a 15-minute break to read, then do it. Just make sure you always have the book you're reading with you so you can take advantage of any free time you get throughout the day. Or . . .
Read digitally across all apps and devices. The books on my Kindle are synced with my smartphone and tablet, so I really have no excuse not to read if I’m waiting around for something. Nor do I need to carry around heavy books with me if I don’t want to. (I love “real” books though!)
Read before going to bed. Reading anything at night before falling asleep has been proven to be relaxing. It helps us put the day behind and prepares us for a good night’s sleep—unless it’s just too hard to put down and you spend the whole night reading . . . which, uh, since I want to be reading . . . am I to complain about lack of sleep? This is confusing my life goals, so I’ll move on. If you’re more of a morning person though, you can make it a habit to read a few pages first thing in the morning. (Even though I’m more of a night owl, I’ll allow this.)
Start small. You don’t have to finish the whole book in one sitting. Just read an article or two, a chapter or two, and get in the habit of setting the time aside for reading.
Set reminders for yourself. Just like you would set a reminder for an appointment or a meeting, create reminders for your reading appointment. This is serious business we’re talking about!
Know when to give up on books you hate and find books you love. Ignore what you “should” be reading. Yeah, it’s nice to find books through “must read” lists but remember to read for yourself. Don’t put pressure on yourself in terms of reading what the rest of the world tells you to read. Read books that you actually enjoy. And for the love of cake, don’t just finish it “because you have to” like I do. Run and get another book, save yourself!
Join or start a book club. Join an existing book club that meets once a month in person. Or if reading with strangers isn't your thing (I know it’s not mine), gather up a few friends and organize a book club. This is your tribe! Being part of a group can help motivate you to continue reading.
Set up a special reading area. Find a place where you can get away from your phone, your family, and any other distractions and just read. Then let me know where it is 'cause I need to borrow it.
Set goals and keep track. When you have something to look forward to, you’re more likely to keep up with your goal. Maybe make it a goal to read one book a week or one book per month. Do it and keep track of your reading progress (Goodreads is great for this); it can help you focus on your reading.
Join a reading challenge. Similar to the above point, you can join a reading challenge and set a goal for the number of books you would like to read for the year. This is really helpful if you need to hold yourself accountable. Plus, it’s really motivating!
So that’s it! But in the end, it comes down to what you truly want. No one is going to convince you to put down the remote and pick up a book if that’s not your priority. If life really got in the way and you’re ready to fall in love with reading again, then let’s do this!
Are you reading as much as you’d like?
Any books you’d like to recommend?
By S. Katherine Anthony
S.K. Anthony (Shanny) is a writer, a reader, and make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York. She is an award-winning author and a bestseller on Amazon. When she isn’t busy with her toddler twins, S.K. finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders . . . she is convinced they are out to get her!