Mary McLeod Bethune once said “The whole world opened to me when I learned to read” and she wasn’t talking about how literacy can help your advance in education and in your career. No, she was talking about reading for pleasure. Reading books.
I once asked a group of about eight ESL students between the ages of 18-24 how often they read for pleasure, and the answer to that question, for every single one of them, was never. They never read for pleasure. I made them read the first chapter of Anne of Green Gables, and that task was met with as much enthusiasm as if you asked me to birth a calf every day for the next month.
Reading for pleasure is, sadly, not as common as it once was, but for many people that is not because they don’t want to read, it is because they don’t have time to read. Reading for pleasure is a pleasure, a treat, a sanctuary that many people simply don’t have time for any more. And as our lives get busier, it gets harder to make time for reading. I know that when I am on vacation, away from the distractions of daily life, I read so much more than I do on any given day when I’m at home. In fact, I have been known to blast through ten or more books in a one-week holiday. If only I had the time to do the same thing when I’m at home.
But it is possible. And here are a couple of tips to help you, and me, to start reading more during the week when you might not think you have time to do so.
First of all, you need to think about times in your day when you could be reading but you’re simply not doing so. You can tie your reading habits to those triggers, so that you eventually begin to automatically pick up your book when you’re having your breakfast, you lunch, dinner or afternoon coffee. Just before you go to bed, or first thing when you wake up in the morning. I don’t know about you, but those times are, unfortunately, where I have got into the habit of watching something on the television, and so exchanging those habits for reading can only be a good thing.
Make sure you enjoy what you’re reading. Don’t force yourself through something that you’re not enjoying after a few days, and don’t see reading as a chore. It should be a break, a relaxing part of your day, so make sure it is not a chore. It should also go without saying that your reading time should be a break from everything else, so leave your cell phone, iPad, laptop or any other distractions in the other room. Enjoy the action, and enjoy your book.
Take a book everywhere you go. This is where an e-reader can be your best friend. If you always bring your book, then any time you spend sitting in the doctor’s office, on the bus, waiting for a friend in the pub, can be spent reading, and before you know it you’ll have finished a book in three days that would previously have taken you four weeks.
Good luck, and happy reading!