“I havent read a book in over two years,” I found myself saying to anyone who asked me what I was reading at the moment. Two whole years and 0 books. I went from reading (or listening to) about 5 to 10 books a month to 0 books. How did this happen, considering how much I love reading? Well in the space of two years, I went from having a lot of time on my hands to having two children. Lots of people have children and read you might say. But, for me, it was impossible. I just couldn’t find the mental space to do it.
Bear in mind that I didnt stop reading everything, I read short articles on the internet, Buzzfeed is a wealth of information you never knew you were interested to know. But most of the information is fluff and none of them were stories or novels.
Once my second child turned one, the crazy nights and utter exhaustion started to wane. Yet I still didn’t read books. I think that the time in which I read before having children was now taken up by other things. I had convinced myself that I had no time to read, because I had to care for the children, do household chores, and prepare for the classes I teach.
However, when I read this article on LifeHakker “How I Tricked Myself into Reading More Books“, it made me think how I could start reading again. I realized I wasn’t reading because I didn’t create a ‘reading-friendly environment’. I had to find different moments to read in, and I had to let go of the zone-like focus I used to apply to reading books. I learnt to read everywere, I put several ebooks on my phone and left a physical book I was reading in each room of the house. When I found myself with a few extra minutes, I forwent my facebook feed and read from a book instead.
I learnt to let go of bookmarks. (As soon as I use one, my kids have an uncanny ability to find my book and take out the bookmark.) I kept loosing the page I was on and wasting time finding it. So, I know some of you will groan at this, I know I did and still do, I started dog-earing the pages, sorry! But if it is the choice between not reading a book or dog-earing the pages, I’ll bite the bullet and dog-ear the page, only paperbacks, of course. I need another solution for other kinds of books.
I also learnt to be able to drop what I’m reading mid-sentence. It used to annoy me, being drawn out of a good story, but now I role with the punches. I had to let go of my previous reading experience: intense focus and long spans of attention. I had to discover a whole new reading style, which I acquired by reading click-bait on Facebook and Pinterest. I developed a short attention span. Who knew that in order to read longer things like books, I needed to have a shorter attention span?
And lastly, I gave myself permission to not finish books I was struggling with. I used to tell myself that not finishing a book, no matter how bad I found it to be, was an ofense to the author. I willed myseld to finish all the books I started. I used to think this was a good thing. Now I realize the truth, I ended up ‘reading’ more than 100 books at the same time. The guilt of not finishing those books wracked my brain. Oh, the guilt. But I’m beginning to let that go. If I can’t get through a book, it gets put back on the bookcase. I have given myself three options when I can’t read it:
- I’m not ready to read it; read it in a year or two… or ten.
- It’s not for me (in this case I give it away).
- Leave it for a couple of months, then read a couple of sentences again, if I can’t read it I choose (1) or (2).
These three options have helped me to read books again, and I read 4 books last month!
If you happen upon this article because you aren’t reading as many books as you want to, then I hope these tips help you. Otherwise, consider why you think you’re not reading enough books and what you can do to change that.