No matter how much of an avid reader we are, we all go through phases in life sometimes where our reading habits slow or stop altogether. Maybe there’s been some loss or grief that causes us to lose interest in things we once enjoyed, or maybe life gets really complicated and super-hectic for a season and we have to decide we need to scale back our activities to just the basics. These phases are normal, necessary, and are a part of life. But they should definitely temporary.
It’s important to try to pick up reading again, for several reasons. One is that whatever we’re going through, we can always find a book where the characters are going through something we can identify with, and reading about them is like walking with a friend who’s going through the journey with you. There have been many times when I’ve read a fiction book that was like a healing balm to my soul. Another reason is that sometimes it’s just plain okay to read a book to escape the pressures of this world for a little while. I’m not suggesting forming an addiction or living in complete escapism all the time, but looking forward to a reading hour can be helpful. I remember a season a while back where I was super busy and read less books than I ever did in my life, and I regret having set aside reading fiction during that time. This is because I think I could have benefited learning from some of the characters’ lives in the book I gave up. They could have helped me see some of my own circumstances from a bird’s eye view, or perhaps even the consequences of some of my decisions.
So, how do we form reading habits if we’ve never done so before, or how to begin again after a dry lull? Here are some tips and ideas:
First, set an easy goal for yourself. This could be one book a month. That’s fine! Or, one fiction book a month and one non-fiction book a month. Hey, any goal is a good one if you haven’t been reading much before! If you find the goal you set is much too easy, you can always tweak it later. Pick something short, fun, and enjoyable. Don’t try to tackle some tome of Russian literature because you feel you ought to make up for lost time. This will only lead to discouragement and burnout. Perhaps start a list of books you’d like to read, fed by suggestions by goodreads, the CBD website, newest books at your local library, or BookPage (or AudioFile magazine, if you like audiobooks).
Book clubs interest many because they can then set a deadline goal for when to finish the book and talk about it with others after they’ve finished. If book clubs aren’t your thing, maybe you have a friend who’s read the same book (or they can recommend a good read to you) and you can discuss it later. Of course, there’s always the Midday Connection book clubs, too.
Set some time apart each day to read. This could be a designated hour or a spot in your daily routine. I like to read in the evenings after supper’s eaten and chores are done. Sometimes I read for an hour and a half. Sometimes I don’t read a whole lot, depending on whatever else I needed to get done first. But at the very least I try to read 2 pages. At least that’s forward progress and keeps me checked into the story!
Once you’re halfway through the book, plan out what you want to read next (this is usually when I start to order my next book on interlibrary loan if my own local library doesn’t have it). This will amp up the anticipation and the feeling of moving toward your goal. It keeps me motivated! And when you’ve finished a book and close it’s cover for the last time, there is a great feeling of accomlishment that comes and you’ll want to pick up your next book to experience that feeling over and over. Make sure you keep a list, too! Being able to add another title to your ever growing list of accomplishments will help to keep the ball rolling.