How To Get (Back) Into Reading
As an English Literature student whose current sole purpose is to read fiction, people often tell me that they want to get into reading, whether they've fallen out of the habit or never made one. Despite the fact that I've always loved reading since I was little and now have to do it as part of my degree, there are still times when I also get out of the habit. I never stop enjoying it I just sometimes forget how much I enjoy it.
This was particularly the case during high school when my priorities were very different to what they had been before this period and what they are now. It took actually reading a book that I liked in school (which didn't really happen until I was around 16 as I think before then I'd read a total of one book as part of my studies and that was Holes by Louis Sachar that I honestly think we spent around a year reading as a class) to get me back into reading. My love of reading was re-ignited by studying English then, but most people who talk to me about wanting to start reading aren't really ever going to study English Literature again, so they're not going to have the same opportunity as I did to really get back into it.
So, I thought I'd make a post on how to get out of a reading slump (whether it's a month, a year or 10 years long). They happen to me all the time even though I know how much I love reading so I always have ways prepared to get out of them
FYI: I'd just like to point out that reading isn't for everyone and, if it isn't for you, that's nothing to be ashamed of. Through spending a great deal of my time with other English students, I've come to realise that liking reading is often held up on a pedestal, signifying not only your academic intelligence but your emotional intelligence. But this just isn't true- liking books really doesn't automatically make you a better person! Some people just don't like books and never will. If that's you, don't feel pressure to read this post or to read a book.
But... on the other hand, if you've never given reading a proper go then you may as well try, maybe you just didn't start with the right genre for you? For me reading is a source of escapism, relaxation and positivity so don't rule it out just cause you've never tried it. Although I feel like a bit of a hypocrite in saying that as I've never properly tried an olive and never will- the smell nauseates me :)
Anyway, here's my tips...
1. Always Have A Book With You
This is probably the tip that really got me back into reading or at least led me to start reading a lot more often than I originally was. People often say take a book with you if you're going to be on public transport, which you definitely should do, but don't just stop there, take a book literally everywhere. Whether you're just popping out the house to go to the supermarket or you're going on a weekend away in which you're planning on being extremely busy (and even drunk) all weekend, you never know when you're going to be delayed, in a queue, or forced to be waiting around for something.
After establishing the habit of taking a book everywhere with you, you then have to make a habit of picking your book out of your bag rather than your phone when you have a spare minute or 10. I still struggle with this all the time but I always feel much happier and like I'm using my time better when I choose to pick up my book instead of my phone, so I try and keep that in mind.
So whether you know you're going to have time to read a book, or you're certain you definitely won't, never leave the house without one, because life is unpredictable and you never know when you might thank yourself for doing so!
2. Set Yourself a 'Reading Time'
Half of the struggle of not reading is just forgetting to; letting Netflix roll on to the next episode without the thought of turning it off even popping into your head, letting 5 minutes of Instagram scrolling turn into an hour. There's so many distractions in our life, many of them digital, and books don't have push notifications like so many of these other things do to remind you to use them. You have to consciously decide to start reading, even if the idea of staying on Instagram feels easier.
So, to combat this, work reading into your routine. Set a time every day when you're going to read. For me, this is in the evening time just before I go to bed. Others do it in the morning, some people on their lunch break, whatever works for you! I personally like doing it before I go to bed because it really allows me to escape into another world and leave all the worries and stresses that are in mine behind, so I can have a restful night's sleep. But I know some people can hardly read a paragraph before they go to bed without falling asleep mid-sentence, so just try different times out and see which ones work.
Remember not to feel guilty if you don't feel like reading sometimes though! At times, you just won't and turning it into a chore won't help. Try and remember the positive reasons as to why you want to read and hopefully they'll motivate you to stick to your 'reading time' but if they don't, no problem, try again tomorrow.
3. Find a Good Book That You Actually Want To Read
Now this one sounds obvious. And it is. But I feel like to get back into reading you have to become infatuated with a book, in order to really feel like picking up another one. So it's important that you start with a good one. Don't set yourself the task of reading that classic Dickens novel that you've always wanted to read. That one can wait. Start with a page-turner that's going to get you hooked and excited!
Think about the types of films and TV you like to watch and find your favourite genres in books, whether it's crime, romance or dystopia. If you're really passionate about about something, from feminism, to sport, to music, find a book with themes that incorporate your interests! These are the things that you already enjoy so use them to find a book that you'll like.
Like I said, I'd recommend getting back into reading with a page-turner to get you excited, so here are some of my favourite page-turners of all different genres:
4. Read With Others
For me, talking about a book is often just as enjoyable as reading it, which is a big part of the reason why I chose to study English Literature at university. But you don't need to be studying English to talk about a book you've read and, often, it's a lot more enjoyable and less pressurised and pretentious to talk about books more casually.
So why not join a book club? Whether it's an IRL one or an online one, it will be a good way of not only holding you accountable to read but also to make reading a more sociable thing. I used to run a feminist book club for Girls Against and I loved running it as it meant that I always engaged with the book we read so much more than I usually would and, therefore, enjoyed it more. I had to stop doing it because I'm currently reading 3(ish) books a week for UNI so the pressure of having to read another one a month on top of that was a little bit too much. But obviously my reading load is unique so hopefully joining a book club won't involve that type of pressure for you.
If you feel as though it does or just don't think it will be your thing, then it's worth just getting a friend or two involved and see if they want to read the same book as you for the next month or so. You can then text and talk about it as you go and when you've finished it without the formalities of an actual meeting to discuss it. A good thing to do, if you have a friends birthday coming up or, dare I mention the C word, for Christmas, is to buy two copies of a book you want to read and think a friend will enjoy, one for you and one as a gift for them. It's the gift that keeps on giving for both of you!
5. Try Audiobooks
Finally, if you just cannot find the time (although, I think it's always worth making time to read) or if your attention span isn't allowing you to read, try to start out with an audiobook. You can listen to it while you're driving, cleaning or getting ready in the morning but it still requires your attention. Some people prefer this to actually reading books but I also think it could be a good way of training your attention span up to the point of being able to read a written book.
I've personally never properly clicked with audiobooks. I did listen to Dolly Alderton's Everything I Know About Love earlier in the year and enjoyed that more than I think I would have in written form, but I haven't found any other audiobooks that have had the same effect on me. So if anyone knows of any I'd love your recommendations! Despite the fact that I'm not head over heels for them, audiobooks definitely do work for some people so they're worth a go. I think Audible offer a free 30 day trial so that might be worth looking into!
I really feel like settling down with my book for the rest of the night after writing this post so I hope you feel the same way! Like I said, reading is such a positive thing for me and, as much as I love social media and our digital age, I think the way in which reading has fallen out of fashion because of it is a shame and a loss for a lot of people. So even if you're only considering it a little bit, definitely give reading a go, whether it's an old friend of yours or one you've never truly got on with, there's a book (or a thousand) out there for most people.