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The other day I realized that now could be the perfect time to recall our New Year resolutions (unless you never forgot about them, in which case, I envy your diligence). I believe most of us made NY resolutions, and those who did probably included building a reading habit to the list, since cultivating a reading habit is one of the ways to achieve self-improvement.
You might have noticed that, interestingly, the status of reading is changing these days. More and more people view taking time to read an actual book as a waste of time. Whether it is the hustle culture to be blamed or some other factors, clearly, never in the history before have we had this many audiobooks, book summaries and podcasts that could all substitute reading. And I have felt apologetic about enjoying a novel in the past. In the world of startups, cryptocurrency investing and productivity culture, does reading make you a daydreamer? Does choosing not to use speed reading techniques make you less efficient?
Answering the questions above may help you become a better, more committed reader because by deciding for yourself the kind of relationship you have with reading, outside influence will not interfere with your reading goals. Let’s say, you heard that your friend finishes one book a week. What if this makes you feel like you need to keep up? But if you decide beforehand that you are not after the number of books you devour every month, as the quality of the reading process matters to you more, you won’t start thinking in all-or-nothing terms. Such thinking can pressure you into not reading anything at all, rather than feeling like you are not reading enough. Let’s put perfectionism aside by admitting that there is no competition in reading. And this leads me to the first tip for reading more that I noticed have been working for consistent readers I’ve met and… myself.
Create an impressive list of books that you plan to read. ‘Impressive’ meaning ‘what genuinely interests YOU personally’.
You may be compelled to add books that you were recommended by friends/family/teachers/celebrities right away. This is good since you will not have to start a list from scratch. Yet it is always sensible to first consider what you are genuinely curious about. Just because so many people love classic or business literature or popular science, does not mean you have to add those bestsellers to your list.
Same with the length of the list. As long as you know that the number is not going to overwhelm you. The list is just a draft or, better yet, an inspirational roadmap that you are forever free to add new titles or remove from.
Introduce ‘book-reading quota’ to your daily/weekly routine.
I hope ‘book-reading quota’ sounds like a serious term because I made that up :). The logic behind any quota is simple – you decide on a fixed number of times you need to do something, In this case, how about you choose a fixed number of pages or minutes you need to spend reading every day or every other day? I started with 30 pages and didn’t notice how I exceeded it every time. Over time, it might become a challenge for you – 50 sounds realistic, 70 attainable and, finally, 100 manageable.
Replace your less useful habits with reading.
Distractions. Aren’t they everywhere? Especially on your phone? Social media alone can steal a big chunk of your free time every day. I put all social media apps and games (yes, I am a grown-up woman who downloads games to her phone) in one folder that is titled ‘Read’. So, think of what distracts you. It is easier to replace unwanted habits with more useful ones than promising yourself to get rid of them altogether.
You can both make reading more affordable and make a difference in your community
If you prefer reading print books, you might already know how to get discount and overall inexpensive books. For example, Flip.kz (https://www.flip.kz/) is known for affordable prices. Meloman https://www.meloman.kz/) and Wildberries (https://kz.wildberries.ru/) offer discounts, too. But you may also find there are charity initiatives that raise money for charity causes by selling used books and they are locally run by volunteers in your city/town/village. Also, by swapping books you not only save money but socialize and help the environment.
Check out BookTubers and online communities for book lovers.
Have you ever felt like discussing a fictional character, but thought it would be awkward to do so with your friends, even if they read the same book? I have. It is completely normal, and that’s what book clubs and online book communities are for. I was surprised to find online communities for all sorts of literary genres. There is something for everybody’s taste. Also, following BookTubers (Youtubers who discuss and review books) is another way to enhance deep reading.
Speaking of BookTubers, here are some recommended links:
- Ted-ed’s playlist ‘Why you should read …” https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJicmE8fK0EiUroVhuEyeOYkAGAAB58Xx
- SparkNotes’s Literature section – for analyses and interesting insights https://www.sparknotes.com/
- ‘The 100 best books of the 21st century by The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/sep/21/best-books-of-the-21st-century
- New Yorker’s list titled ‘The Best Books We Read in 2020’ https://www.newyorker.com/culture/2020-in-review/the-best-books-we-read-in-2020
- PeruseProject, a BookTuber who has been creating informative and entertaining content for over 7 years https://www.youtube.com/c/PeruseProject/featured
- Jack Edwards, a Literature graduate who makes fun videos about books and popular culture https://www.youtube.com/c/thejackexperience/featured \
- Rinceyreads, a BookTuber whose book recommendations have been making my reading list for a long time https://www.youtube.com/c/rinceyreadss/featured
When you can’t find a similar series to your favourite TV show (or can’t wait for another season to come), books will compensate over and above.
Yes, sometimes reading involves highlighting important parts and translating unfamiliar words. And sometimes reading means just being immersed in a story. Thinking of reading as simply enjoying a story reduces the pressure and stress around books. For instance, in the anticipation of a new season of Stranger Things, I used to read novels that capture the 1980s and mysterious circumstances.
Bonus tip: write honest and short book reviews to further motivate yourself to read consistently.
At first, this piece of advice sounds counter-productive. But stay with me. Documenting the books you’ve already finished can activate the reward system, so you feel rewarded and proud, and this can motivate you to read more. Besides, we, humans, naturally love expressing our opinion and it would be a good idea to use this inclination to our advantage. For instance, you could post your short review on classic platforms, like Goodreads.com or just on your social media or anonymously (plus, running a Telegram channel enables you to record podcast-like posts). As time passes, you will see the number of posts (reviews) grow, and it will give you a sense of reward and that push to read consciously and on a regular basis.
Enjoy your reading time!
written by Aidana Amalbekova