Get (Back) Into Reading
A couple of years ago I pitched my work-in-progress hacker thriller to an agent and mentioned that tech geeks will want to read it.
"How's that going to work out? People in tech don't read," was the response.
It both annoyed me and made me sad. But maybe she was right? After all, I had only just gotten back into reading myself.
As my satisfaction of reading has grown, I've been wanting to write about how I did it. So here's my guide.
Reading Is For You
I find it hard to quit on a book I've started reading, even if I don't like it. I've had cases where it made me stop reading all together. I believe it's because I'm a completionist but it could be being frugal ("I paid for this book") or being trapped by a sunk cost fallacy.
Then a friend told me like it is. You read for your enjoyment. You don't owe it to anyone to stick with a book that doesn't work for you. Maybe the language is hard to read? Maybe the characters don't pop? Perhaps you'd rather read some other genre right now?
You will never be able to read even 1% of the world's literature so make the books you read count. Be ruthless and pick up a gem.
Start With Easy Wins
You might want to read Kafka, Lessing, or the whole Wheel of Time series, but you don't have to start there. When I decided to reboot my fiction reading I went for Ian Fleming's novels about James Bond. They're short and I already knew I loved the movies.
Do some crime story reading or revisit a novel you read years ago. Yes, you are allowed to read a book again. I went back to "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Solzhenitsyn and I can tell you that I enjoyed it even more as an adult than as required schoolwork.
Pick short books if you know that it's hard to get through a 400-pager. Lately I've started reading short stories – 20-page pieces of fiction.
Watch Out With Recommendations and Gifts
It can be particularly hard to stop reading a book that was warmly recommended to you by a friend or given to you. Someone else has injected their preferences into your reading habits. But you know what? You don't have to read that book. Go back to the stuff you want to read.
Gamify If That's What Makes You Tick
Setting a goal in an app like Goodreads can work wonders for people who thrive on gamification. In my personal case it works because I'm a completionist (a disadvantage turned into an advantage).
Watch out though. Sooner or later you'll start glancing at users who read 50 books per year or 100 books per year. You don't have to. Reading is for you and you have this one great book you're reading right now.
A Few Pages Is A Lot More Than Zero
Crunch time at work, kid being a nuisance, it's late, you have to reach the goal on your fitness tracker. It's easy to find an excuse to not read. But you don't have to read a whole chapter. Just read a couple of pages. It keeps you in the story and makes sure you don't come to a full stop.
Become a Collector
This last year I've found another level of joy in reading physical books – vintage copies. You can go incredibly expensive such as Jane Austen books from the early 1800s at thousands of dollars, but that's not what I'm talking about. I mean like the 1963 vintage paperback of Alistair MacLean's "The Satan Bug" I got for $5 on eBay.
Seeing those pieces of history lined up in my bookshelf makes me want to read. Holding one of them in my hand makes me smile.
Cut Down on TV
The easiest way for me to find time for reading was to cut down on TV series and movies. I still love that stuff but as time has passed, I've discovered that reading gives me more in return, probably because my brain is more active.
Find a Nice Spot To Read
Many read in bed but if you read at other times I encourage you to find a nice spot. Buy an armchair and stake out a corner in your home. It can really enhance the whole experience and make you feel alive. You're prioritizing yourself. (I got a Poäng armchair from IKEA for $99 and I love it.)
Buy Reading Glasses
Bad eyesight creeps up on you, and before you know it you're getting tired while reading because you're straining your eyes. Don't let blurry text get in your way – go check your eyes.
Reading Clubs and Book Clubs
Right before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I was getting ready to join a local chapter of the Silent Book Club. It's this awesome thing where you go to a cafe or bar together with others, socialize for a little, and then sit and read in silence together. No milestones or homework, just reading as a community.
You can of course join a regular book club with deadlines, or form one. That's not my cup of tea though. Too much pressure. Books are for me.
I hope you too get (back) into reading!
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