I have loved reading all of my life, but I believe I am in the minority.
According to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, on average, Americans spend two hours a day watching television and seven minutes reading.
Many of my friends talk about “wanting to like reading” sort of like how I talk about “wanting to like running.” It sounds great in theory, but in practice… not so much.
This made me wonder why I like to read and others don’t. I thought back to high school and college – times when I actually hated reading – and realized that most people have an inaccurate expectation of reading.
For most of us, our first introduction to novels revolved around literary classics – for me, that included To Kill a Mockingbird, A Tale of Two Cities, and Catcher In the Rye. These are all lovely books, but they are very difficult to relate to if you are a 15-year old high-school student with six other classes on your plate.
Here are the steps that brought me back to my love of books:
- Pick a topic you love:
Don’t worry about what your friends are reading, what’s on the best seller list, or what will make you look smart. Just find something you think is interesting and go with it. Everyone loves a good story, and no matter what story you pick, you’ll be better off having read something than nothing.
- Use reading time as your chance to relax and unwind:
Does reading make you fall asleep? Perfect. Don’t watch TV right before bed – read a few pages in a book you love. You will sleep significantly better having drifted off after reading a book than you will after being stimulated before sleep by the lights and sounds of the TV.
- Don’t read really long books :
Even as an avid reader, I get completely overwhelmed by long books. Regardless of the number of pages, I feel committed to finishing a book only when I’ve made it half-way through. If half-way is 300 pages in, many of us would be inclined to quit. But, most of us who feel like we’ve accomplished something in a reasonable amount of time, don’t want to give up.
- Find a group of people who like reading the same kind of books as you:
These people may not be your closest friends, but they will be a great resource for finding and recommending other books you might like. I also love having someone to talk to about a book I’ve read – and I don’t mean I want to have a literary philosophy discussion or anything, but it’s nice to just talk about how the book impacted me. Some of my reading friends have ended up becoming my closest friends.
- No pressure:
The beauty of reading for pleasure is that you have the option of loving or hating a book. No one is going to ask you to critique it, or to share your opinion on the author’s inner most thoughts. This is just your time to enjoy a little piece of another world. Savor it.
My husband has struggled a lot with reading – not that he’s bad at it, but he just doesn’t enjoy it. However, he has been using these ideas over the last couple of months and has turned his opinion around. He loves reading non-fiction and how-to books. Those are totally boring to me, but it’s his choice and I’m glad he found a way to enjoy books. I think it’s a good example for our son.
If you really want to read more, and just need a push to do it, consider starting or joining a book club. There’s nothing like the lure of a little girlfriend time to make you want to keep turning the pages.
Good luck and happy reading!