A Quick Request
Are you an old bibliophile who’s dropped the habit? Wondering how to get back into reading? You’re in the right place.
I’ve read 10,187 books, which is a made up number. I don’t know how many I’ve read, but it feels like a lot. I currently manage about 2-4 books per month, but it wasn’t always this way.
When I was a small human, I metamorphosed into a fully grown creature in what can only be described as bucolic countryside. As a child, it was fun, with significant time spent outside in nature and playing sport.
Due to the general lack of other humans to talk to, it also resulted in significant ‘me time’, which was partly filled by reading and waiting patiently for a dial-up Internet connection to play computer games.
I was a sucker for adventure books and couldn’t get enough, devouring Bernard Cromwell’s Sharp series, for example. At this time, for lack of other stimulation, reading was an escape.
Fast forward a few years to university, and predictably the reading habit crumbled like a poor pastry, replaced by predictable student proclivities.
Don’t get me wrong, it was all fun and games, but I gradually realised that something inherent to my psychic well being was missing; getting lost in a good story.
So if you’re like me and intermittently enter book funks, here’s how to get back into reading.
How to get back into reading
Pick a childhood interest
Many of us fall for the trap of reading what we think we should instead of what we really want.
Restarting a habit is hard enough, without battling through boring books.
If you loved reading comics as a kid, start there. The content doesn’t matter, just the context of consuming words.
Start with fiction
While I love non-fiction, as you can see from my book summaries page, it’s harder to kickstart a habit when the material is dense.
Humans have been telling stories since we were waving spears around and rocking the loincloth. We’re wired for them.
So if you restart the habit, pick a fast-paced fiction and get lost in a good story.
Download the kindle app
We mistakenly assume that we must carve significant chunks of time for our hobbies.
For mountain climbing? Maybe. For book reading, not so much.
One of the best things I did to increase my word consumption was downloading the Kindle app on my phone.
Whenever I had a few spare minutes, queuing or lunching, I’d whack it out and read a couple of pages, priming the habit pump and pushing the book along piecemeal.
Buy a Kindle
The Kindle app’s a good start and vital in a pinch.
That said, there’s nothing better than having a larger surface without the shiny screen, making it easier on the eyes and the feeling of reading the real thing.
Where previously I was an analogue traditionalist, the ease and portability of the Kindle make it a no-brainer.
But perhaps the best features of all are the highlighting and notes options.
Whenever I spot a juicy passage, I save it and can export my favourites later.
Don’t look at the length of the book
When reading on a digital device, I never look at the length of a book ahead of time, simply judging a book by its cover if it piques my literary curiosity.
Even now, when I’m back in the swing of things, it’s offputting to imagine labouring like a misshapen beast through 600 pages.
Ignorance is often bliss in book-length.
Like everything in life, taking one page at a time is the answer.
Soon you’re swept up in the story and will be amazed at your sexy reading stamina.
Read short stories
If the thought of reading a full-length novel is too much to stomach, consider whetting your literary appetite with a starter, in the form of a short story.
You’ll burn through the books.
Just the habit of picking up a book is key. Repetition is your friend.
Need a recommendation? If you’re at all sci-fi inclined, give Ted Chiang a try.
Set a specific time and place
Reading, just like flossing your pearly whites, is a habit.
And therefore it conforms to psychological principles.
Mucho research has been conducted into how we can remain productive little bees at all hours. W
e can harness this knowledge, but in a fun way.
Setting a specific time and place is advised, like before your morning ablutions.
In this way, most bookworms try to connect their reading time with another daily activity, like walking up and going to bed.
Leave yourself on a cliffhanger
A surefire way to keep returning for your next reading fix is to leave yourself on a good cliffhanger.
Good authors know this and often leave various open loops within the plot to keep you plugged in.
The space between what you know and what happens next creates unresolved psychological tension which can only be relieved by reading on.
A great example of this technique is in Red Rising by (again, one for the sci-fi nerds.)
Listen to an audiobook
Some people say listening to an audiobook is the same as reading.
For me, it feels different, in that I consume the written word more readily than processing audio.
But different horses for different courses.
Learning how to get back into reading is all about rediscovering your love of storytelling.
Pick whichever format is most convenient, especially if you can only consume books while commuting or exercising, and get started.
Reading is a life-expanding activity.
Not only are there distinctive emotional and psychological benefits (at least in my case), but you have the rare opportunity to confer with the greatest human minds that have ever lived.
So if you’re getting back into the wonderful world of literature, I heartily recommend it.
Also, check out my book page for a spot of reading inspiration.