How To Read A Book
Reading books is not for everyone. Some people just don’t enjoy reading, and I respect that! (But maybe you just haven't met the perfect book yet?) However, as you may have gathered, I love to read books. Looking at my TBR (to be read) pile is like looking at boxes of candy. And yet! I don’t read as many books as I used to, and there are times when I’d rather be reading my book, but I just don’t pick it up. There are a couple of reasons for this:
•I’ve got a lot of other pressing things to do
The phone, I think, is the real reason I don’t read as much as I used to. There are times when I stare longingly at my book while obsessively scrolling through my phone, unable to put it down. Let me just say that I don’t think phones are the root of all evil. In fact, social media and other nifty apps/sites have enriched my life in myriad ways. But I do think they can be addictive for certain people (moi) in a way that printed books are not. After long hours on my phone I usually feel drained, sort of mentally bloated, if you know what I’m saying. And I feel a twinge of regret. I have never felt this after long hours of reading a book. When I look at my phone, it offers a lot of whiz-bang. I mean, it even has a pink, sparkly case! I should probably get a more dour-looking one so I’m not so tempted. During quarantine, I felt completely ruled by my phone and was glued to it all the time, as I know a lot of us were. At a certain point, I knew I had to change something. I tried a bunch of stuff but what worked for me was signing out of all my social media apps at 5pm every day, and staying signed out on the weekends. At first, I still mindlessly tapped the apps over and over and was like “oh yeah, I’m signed out.” (Hello addictive behavior!) I tried to have my current book nearby and in view at all times. If it’s tucked away somewhere, I won’t open it.
As for the “other pressing things to do” – I am super busy, but it is possible to squeeze in some reading. I salute the people who actually don’t have time to read books, who fall into bed at the end of every day exhausted. I see you. For myself, I decided that ten minutes of book-reading every day was better than none, and as is typical with this kind of habit-building, ten minutes turned to fifteen, and then half and hour, etc. I also needed to find a specific time and place that was especially conducive to reading, and for me that is in bed right before going to sleep. (Added bonus: better sleep! Phone time before bed seems to disrupt my sleep.) I got one of those little clamp-on book lights (with a “warm” setting) which reminds me of after-hours reading as a kid, or camping, or something cozy like that.
Something I’ve found is that after a long period of not reading books, it’s hard to get back into the flow of reading printed stuff. To me it feels like being out shape, and my out-of-shape eyes kind of wander off the page. This is a little disturbing but goes away after a few chapters. Oh, another thing: I like to pick a wonderfully readable, fun book to reignite my reading habit. Super-dense/difficult/academic texts are not the best for this fragile time! They can be discouraging. Not sure what to pick? Normally I would say chat with your local librarian (seriously! They can guide you to the best stuff!) but since we are not able to visit our library in person lately, I’ve been consulting Goodreads. I don’t really read the reviews on there, but It’s fun to check up on what friends and acquaintances and beloved ninth grade English teacher (Hi, Mrs. Torg!) are reading. I follow a lot of book people on Twitter and instagram, too. Come join me in book-land!
What are your current book habits?