Reading has always been my favourite hobby. It’s entertaining, it’s portable, and, when you’re reading a really good book, you can escape your life for a little while and become absorbed in something completely different. As technology has changed and e-books have become popular, it has become even easier to read constantly.
When I was eighteen and went away to university for the first time, I almost completely stopped reading for pleasure. Most of the reading I did was for school, and I was distracted by Netflix and my social life. For the next three years I struggled to get back into my old hobby. Every time I started a book I found myself not really focusing on the story or forgetting about it altogether. Holiday breaks were the only time I really felt like I had a chance to read.
It wasn’t until a semester spent abroad in my third year of university that I realized time wasn’t actually the problem. Even at my busiest I had short amounts of time that I just wasn’t using wisely. I was lucky enough to travel around Europe during that semester, and I realized that if I took all of my spare moments – the ones sitting in bus stations or waiting for a plane – reading, I could actually accomplish a lot. That was the year that I finally got back into reading.
Since then I have been making note of things I can do to improve my reading goals. Even this semester while I am busy with school and my job I'll be able to read often, and here are the tricks that make it possible:
1. Always have a book (or an e-book) with you. You never know when a few moments could arise that you could spend reading. I always take books to appointments and on transportation, and I always pack one in my backpack for school. Even five minutes of free time can be useful.
2. Read things that you care about. I used to try to force myself to finish reading every book I started, even if I didn’t feel absorbed in it by the time I was a few chapters in. This slowed me down because I would struggle to finish a book that I couldn’t really care about and wouldn’t start something new, and I would go for a few weeks without reading. Now I make more of an effort to seek out books on subjects that I am interested in to lower the chances that I wouldn’t enjoy the book. I have also stopped forcing myself to try to finish things that I really, really don’t enjoy. I would rather focus on what I do enjoy.
3. Try to take advantage of books you are reading for school or work. This one REALLY helped me. I always resented having to read for school. It annoyed me that I couldn’t choose what I was reading. Once I finally accepted it as a chance to read and learn about something new, I found that I actually enjoyed a lot of the books I was assigned for classes.
4. Find a reading space. I currently have a chair in the corner of my bedroom surrounded by candles, my favourite photos, and a pretty wall hanging. This is a place that I 100% dedicate to reading. When I sit in my chair I don’t let myself watch television or scroll through my phone, I just read.
5. Make it fun. Read a book at the same time as a friend so you can talk about it together. Read a book that you’ve heard is being turned into a movie or a series so that when it comes out you can be even more excited for it. Reading doesn’t have to be academic or scholarly, it can be genuinely entertaining.
6. Set a goal. This one really helped me. When I started using Goodreads and tracking what I was reading and working towards a goal every year, I found that I was much more committed to it.
7. Make it a habit. I had always seen people suggesting this as a way to become more physically active. The idea is that if you dedicate part of your day every single day to something, it will become normal for you. I read every night before I go to sleep (unless I am pulling an all-nighter writing a paper or having a night out with friends). It’s a good way to wind down the day and now it’s a routine.