After a few years of not really reading all that much I’ve got back in the habit of keeping a list of books I’d like to read so that I always have something on the go. As such, I thought I’d start to keep track of the books I read. My secret to reading lots seems to come down to not being afraid to give up on a book I don’t like, and to borrow the majority of my books, which means I then don’t feel compelled to finish them if I don’t like them, I can just return them to the library unread.
Let me preface this by saying that I don’t think that reading books (specifically fiction) is a more ‘worthy’ pastime than, say, watching films or playing computer games. They’re all forms of escapism and storytelling, and they’re all fun. As a child I was led to believe that reading was more important than playing video games, but as an adult I disagree. I have no regrets about the number of hours I played Heroquest, Warcraft II or Jagged Alliance as a child, as they gave me just as much pleasure as reading fiction does now. Whether you’re into video games, fiction, picture books, animation or film, I think we can agree that you like stories. There are just many different formats. This post is for those of you who enjoy reading but have fallen out of the habit of reading regularly. I share how I find books I want to read and how I make sure that I keep reading.
I have always loved reading, but I haven’t always been in the habit of reading fiction. As well as playing computer games and watching cartoons, I read lots as a child and teenager, and I went through a period of time about five years ago where I read lots too. However, there have also been big periods of time, sometimes years, where I have only read non-fiction. Between 2009 and 2014 I was studying for and writing my PhD in environmental social science, and so I read a lot of newspapers (in English and Polish), journal articles and academic text books. I didn’t have any interest in doing more reading in my leisure time, so it was pretty rare for me to pick up a book (I’d go for a run or play Super Karoshi instead). Now that I’ve left academia I enjoy reading again as it’s pleasure again and no longer work. I like reading a mixture of both fiction and non-fiction, and I particularly enjoy books with an historical setting.
Another reason I enjoy reading is it that helps me to sleep better at night. I read for about two to three hours each night and often more at weekends, especially in the winter. I don’t have a TV or watch Netflix so reading, going to the gym or for a swim and playing violin and piano is how I spend my evenings. I don’t think my choices are better than others, as I don’t hold reading in higher esteem than any other hobby or pastime, it’s just what I enjoy. I like films, but I don’t have much interest in TV or TV dramas.
If you’re keen to read more but don’t know how you’ll find the time, think through your day to day routines and see if you can find some time that you’re currently spending on things you don’t really enjoy and could swap quite happily for more time reading. For me, I also spend a lot of time reading articles online, but I’m quite happy to swap reading the news for reading novels instead. Some people find that audiobooks are a good fit as they can find more time to listen to books, for example when driving, than they can find for reading them.