Here’s how you can transition from ‘hoping to read’ to ‘regular reader’.
Three years ago I made a New Years’ Resolution to read more. I targeted two books a month, far lower than my childhood average of three books a week. I haven’t been able to reach that target till date, in spite of spending more time indoors during the lockdown.
When I do read, I go back to books that I have already read; a few standard favorites – my ‘comfort-food’ of books. The occasional spur of motivation drives me to pick up a totally new book and read three long chapters at a stretch but I can’t seem to sustain this for more than a few days and actually complete the book. Now I longingly gaze at shelves of books, wishing I could do justice to them.
A few guilt-trips, Netflix binges and a few more broken reading promises later, I discussed this with a few people, only to discover that I am not alone. Many of us used to be avid readers and still enjoy reading, but somehow we are not able to read as much as we would like to.
There are others who wish to read but face some difficulty (concentration/comprehension) and end up not reading. How can we overcome these challenges and cultivate the habit of reading?
One needs to awaken the aspiration to read, rather than applying brute force or guilt or even reason to develop the reading habit. You need to inspire yourself from within and find your personal and unique emotional connection with books and strengthen it.
All this sounds good but it’s theoretical and philosophical. How can it be translated into action?
Ask yourself this simple question:
- What feeling does reading evoke in you?
- Does reading a book on start-ups motivate you to chase your dream of becoming an entrepreneur?
- Does reading a book on motivation help you overcome your fears and live more freely?
- Does reading a book on black holes, stars and astronomy fill you with wonder and amazement?
- Does reading something scary make you realise how powerless you are and deflate your ego?
- Does reading about injustice stir your conscience and fight for justice?
- Does reading an encyclopaedia expand your mind and make you feel empowered with knowledge?
- Does reading fiction give you a break from your own problems and help you feel relieved?
- What do you feel during/after reading?
Hope/Clarity/Compassion/The drive to work harder/Resilience…it can be anything!
Once you identify your personal connection with reading, honour and celebrate this uniqueness. This is an intimacy of sorts, which is not just mental or emotional. Reading will change the way you think and experience the world.
Step 1: Open something that you like to read – a book, an article, a poem, part of a story or anything else that you like. Don’t think too much or spend too much time.
Step 2: Read for exactly ten minutes. During this time, immerse yourself completely in whatever you are reading. Connect with the words, the author (known or unknown) and allow the power of the words to move you. Lose yourself and find the union between you and reading.
Step 3: Stop after five minutes. Make a note of what you are feeling. After ten minutes, close whatever you are reading and physically write down exactly how you feel. A few lines are more than sufficient. Don’t worry about the language or grammar.
Step 4: Pin this up in your personal space, somewhere you can see it regularly. Connect with this at least once a day and relive your feeling of reading. Remember, this is your private connection with books. There is no need to share it with anyone.
Here is a ONE-TIME EXERCISE you can do right now to solidify and strengthen your connection with books!
Connecting with your personal feeling of reading on a daily basis will drive you towards deriving more of it by reading more. This way you will stay inspired to read. Initially you may need to consciously increase the priority that you give to reading. Once a rhythm sets, you will find yourself becoming a regular reader.