Roughly, a quarter of Americans aren’t reading books, according to Pew Research Center. Several factors appear to correlate with low reading time, including household income and gender (men are the most likely to have not read a book in the past year). The American Time Use Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that most Americans spend just over 15 minutes a day reading something for personal pleasure. But reading should not just be seen as a pleasure or a luxury. Research has found that there are real mental and physical benefits to reading. One study from the National Library of Medicine shows that reading increase’s one’s ability to empathize. Additional research out of Neurology.org shows that those who read regularly are less likely to develop plaque in the brain that’s associated with Alzheimer’s.
Those books collecting dust on your shelf shouldn’t just be for decoration: they’re tools for your overall wellbeing. But, we get it: in today’s society, it can be difficult to find the time or motivation to sit down and read a book. More pulls our attention in a dozen directions today than was true for our grandparents or great grandparents. So, in celebration of International Literacy Day, here are some tips to help you love reading again.
1) Create A Reading Nook
One thing that could be stopping you from getting back into reading could be the simple fact that you don’t have a comfortable, quiet place to do so. Just like with anything, from sleeping to working from home, it’s hard to get something done if you don’t have a dedicated space for it. It’s especially difficult if the others in your household don’t recognize and respect it when you are reading. Create a reading nook. Get a really comfortable chair – try a recliner, because getting your spine aligned just right and your legs kicked up can encourage you to stay put for hours. Get a good reading light so you don’t strain your eyes to see the text. Add a comfy pillow and a blanket so you don’t have to get up to adjust the temperature if you get cold.
2) Start A Club
If you’re a social butterfly or a genuine extrovert, reading might be especially tricky because it’s a lonesome activity. However, you can probably – like most extroverts – be motivated by the promise of a social activity at the end of the task. So start a book club. You can look forward to knowing that if you do the reading, you get to have a fun wine, cheese, and book night with friends and have an interesting conversation about the reading. But, you don’t get to chime in on the conversation if you didn’t do the reading! Make sure to add members who you’ll be thoroughly excited to see and speak with each week.
3) Find Books That Will Improve Your Life
If you’re a goal-oriented individual who likes to consume information that will improve your life, then maybe reading is hard for you because you aren’t that into novels. We get that. A novel about a sultry affair that involves BDSM doesn’t exactly enrich the mind. So maybe you need books that will change your life. You could look into psychology books that address how the mind works and help you develop new perspectives, mindsets, and psychological tools to tackle everything from your career goals to your mental health issues. Knowing that, when you’re done with these books, your life might be better could really encourage you to read.
4) Read The Book A Favorite Movie Was Based On
It can be very fun to read a book that a favorite TV show or movie is based on. And there are plenty of those today. It’s like working backwards. Some people read all the books before seeing the movie, but if you already saw the movie, that’s okay, too. It can be fascinating to see how the source material differs from the movie or show. Sometimes, you’ll find interesting elements of a character or scene that weren’t a part of the screen rendition. These can give you an entirely new way you see the story. Then, it can be fun to re-watch the screen rendition with this new understanding.
5) Hide Away In A Library
If you can’t get your family or roommates to leave you alone while you read at home, you can always sneak away to a library. Or, perhaps a book store. Do some exploration and find a classic book store or library in your town where you can curl up in a corner for hours, uninterrupted. Turn your phone off (it’s usually required in libraries, anyways). Being physically removed from your normal environment and surrounded by stacks of books and that great book smell can take you away mentally, too. You’ll be amazed at how you lose track of time while reading in a library corner.
6) Just do a little a day
For some, it’s hard to start any task if you’re overwhelmed by the end goal. So don’t stress about finishing the book. Don’t think about it as 300 pages. Just do 10 pages a day. Hey, you can start with five pages a day. Assign yourself whatever is reasonable for your schedule. Before you know it, reading time won’t be an assignment but actually the thing you look forward to doing. You get to read when your other tasks are done. You might start to see that it’s very relaxing because when you’re reading, that means you aren’t doing dishes or answering emails.
7) Read In The Bath
For some, it’s about creating an environment where nothing can get in the way of your reading. If you are a parent, you’ve probably learned this trick: when mom is in the bath, nobody can bother her. There’s an understanding in the house that that’s your self-care time. And people generally get that asking you to do something means asking you to get out of the tub, so they ask the parent who isn’t in the tub instead. Grab your book, get a nice little tub caddy so it stays dry, add a glass of wine and some candles, and sink into some warm water and a good read.
8) Pack Your Book
Your book can be your savior in stressful or even just boring situations. Keep it in your purse or backpack. You’ll begin to notice all of these times in your day that you’d love to escape into a book, like when you’re sitting in your dentist’s lobby, waiting for your visit. Or when you’re sitting in your kid’s parking lot, waiting to pick them up. How about when you’re just waiting for the laundry to finish? A book turns these moments that feel like time-wasters into enjoyable escapes from reality. You may not find time to read at home but you can probably find time to read away from home.