On my regular visit to the local library last week, I found myself sharing with the librarian how hard it is to get back into reading. I’ve been so busy with other things lately that reading hasn’t been at the top of my priority list. Now that I’m trying to get back to it, my concentration is flagging and I can’t finish anything longer than a pamphlet. The habit is gone and I’m a little fearful that it’s not coming back. There are just so many other distractions and mental drains.
Leave to to a librarian, though, to have great advice. It was also boot camp-type advice. Short, sweet, and and a swift kick in the butt.
Read whatever you want.
No one cares what you read. Or how often you read it. If you want to read the same book 100 times, knock yourself out. Librarians don’t get twisted up when a kid wants to read the same book over and over because they know that any reading is building reading skills and habits. The same goes for adults. Read what engages you at any point in time. So what if it’s not the latest bestseller or an Oprah book? The thing that attracts you may be the book on the back of the shelf that no one’s touched for eight years. So what? Read it, build your reading muscles, and move on to the next thing.
Read whenever you can.
Stop looking for the perfect time to read. Don’t wait for an uninterrupted block of time. Read whenever you can. That may be in five minute increments, at first. Gradually, you’ll find yourself carving out longer and longer periods of time because you genuinely want to. If you try to force yourself to “sit down and read,” you’ll resent it and quickly find something else to do.
Don’t read for status.
Did I mention that no one cares what you read? They don’t. So don’t read for status. Don’t read the things other people think you should read. (Unless it’s for work and you have no choice.) The Bible, classics, Pulitzer-winning novels, and non-fiction that makes you a better person are all worthwhile reads. However, if you’re only reading them to keep up with others or to prove something to someone else, give it up and just read what you want. Reading for status is the fast track to not reading at all.
Don’t get twisted up about format.
Any form of reading is valid. If that’s comics, ebooks, audiobooks, graphic novels, the rulebooks from your favorite board games, or magazines, read it. All reading counts, not just physical books. You’re looking to rebuild the reading muscle, not score points for reading a particular format.
Ask your librarian for help.
Librarians can direct you toward books and materials you might not have considered. They’re also a good source of butt-kicking advice. They’ve seen all levels of readers, non-readers, and reluctant readers. If there’s a way to help you get back on the reading track, they probably know it.