Growing up in a family of eight, reading was often the only way I found solace in the midst of all the noise that constantly filled the house. I would read upwards of 5 to 8 books a month, not counting school books. It was my alone time, I would open a book and get transported into another universe and for a little while forget that I shared my space with six sisters and a brother. There was no social media to distract me (does MSN count?), no smartphones, nothing that could pull me away from a good story.
This year, I read 3 books, 3. Nowhere close to the 10 books a year goal I set for myself in 2015. When I was a kid, I brought my books everywhere; in the car, at dinner, when I walked, etc. Fast forward a few years and the book I held so dear has now been replaced by my beloved iPhone. A device so permanently attached to my hand that when the battery runs low, I feel a piece of myself withering away. I’ve replaced Jane Austin with Twitter feeds and words with emoji’s.
With the year coming to an end, I started thinking about getting back to reading. Although I won’t make up the 12 books I failed to read this year, I can start building healthy habits to ensure that great authors trump the likes of Zuckerberg and Spiegel in my daily life.
First things first – Kindle vs. paperback? Although e-readers and tablets represent a high volume of book readers, I still believe in good old printed books. I’ve tried digital reading via a Kobo app on my iPad. It leads to nothing but distractions as I was tempted to check out all the notifications that were pouring in via Facebook and the routine Friday night family FaceTime sessions.
After spending an whole day plugged into all things digital, I prefer my reading to be old school. Hardcovers or paperbacks allow for a complete shut down of most distractions so you can focus all your attention on being carried away into another world. It may not be as easy to carry as its digital counterparts, but at least there are no battery-life worries attached to it.
In an ideal world, I’d wake up one day and be back to my old reading habits – 5 books a month shouldn’t be hard right? The reality is that between work and an active social life, finding the time to read can be difficult. The key is to start with small goals you can accomplish daily and build on. Whether its committing to 5 pages or 1 chapter a day, make sure the goals you set are actionable. It’s likely that you’ll read more than planned, the important thing is to at least stick to your daily minimum.
Find times in your day that would usually be wasted on social media browsing, and fill it with words of a great author instead. Instead of trying to connect to the TTC WIFI so I can take in all the #TastyTuesday Instagram posts on my way to the office, I probably should open a book and take in a few pages – it will likely minimize the early morning frustrations I have with our transit system.
Stop trying to read books you think you should read. Read what you’re interested about about so that it captures your attention from the first page – that way you don’t have to force yourself to the finish line. I remember being middle school and trying to read The Lord of the Rings because ALL my friends were reading it. It wasn’t my cup of tea (I’m not big into fantasy adventure books) and I struggled to get through the first chapter because the interest simply wasn’t there. One of the 3 books I read this year was Purple Hibiscus, a book by Chimamanda Adichie. I was so excited to read that book that I finished it in a week. I read it every chance I had because from the first page, I was captivated.
Not every book you choose will be read, but it’s important to put in the time to select something that won’t feel like a waste of time. Whether you Kindle or carry a hardcover everywhere, it’s important to make reading a part of your daily routine. With the digital world being compressed on a daily basis, it’s important to read long form as often as possible. It keeps your brain sharp, and routinely exposes you to adventures beyond your friends’ latest Twitter rants.