From non-reader to avid reader – 5 things you need to do
So, you picked that trendy novel up at the library because your best friend kept gushing about it. It’s high time, you thought. Determined, you sat yourself down with book in hand, and embarked on a mission – to finally become a reader.
Hold up. It wasn’t easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, was it? You re-read that first page four times!
Most people enjoy reading as a way to unwind and take a break from the real world. Other than for leisure, reading is a critical 21st century skill to grow at school, or in the workspace. Because it is so important (and also incredibly fun), reading shouldn’t feel like an insurmountable task, even if you’re new to it.
Where do I start? How do I inculcate reading in my lifestyle? How do I know which books are meant for me? – are these the questions bothering you? Here are 5 nuggets of advice, gleaned from my 10 years of voracious reading experience, that answer all your worries!
1. Figure out your ‘why’ and ‘what’
Why do you want to read? Is it for fun, or is it for a learning experience? Do you want to chillax, or proactively develop your mental library? Decide your ‘why’ by looking into your hobbies & interests.
What do you want to read? If a fast-paced thriller isn’t your vibe, let it go. Maybe all your friends are into Harry Potter, but you simply don’t like the fantastical premise. You don’t haaave to follow trends, but asking friends for recommendations can prove pretty useful. Think about your ‘what’ by deep diving into themes you like, by referencing your all-time favourite movies, or recently binged web series. Also utilise book blurbs to tailor a nice reading list for yourself.
PS: You are allowed to quit a book. As much as it is your responsibility to complete it, it is the book’s responsibility to keep you hooked.
2. Start at a comfortable reading level
You don’t need to go all-out, all at once. If you have very little reading background, Shakespeare can wait awhile. Starting out with reading material that is extremely challenging is likely to discourage you. Try the 30 Page Practice:-
The first 30 pages of a book are like the first 15 minutes of a movie; you understand if it is worth it or not. If you’re so into your book that you don’t even realise you’ve crossed the thirtieth page, superb! But if you’re struggling to care for the protagonist, or the vocabulary is too flowery, and it was boring even when you hit page 30, drop it, and move on.
3. Schedule a reading time in your timetable
Though not compulsory, it helps to build a habit by repeatedly conducting the activity in the same place, at the same time, every day. This is a great way to get you into the reading groove. For the first few months, as you are getting into the hang of reading diligently, keep small goals – say, reading 10 pages every day. These will be easy to achieve, and the sense of triumph will push you to read more!
4. Exercise your attention span
A common statement from most readlings (yes, I created this term) is – Man, I just browsed through it, it was too boring.
Man, if you ‘browsed’, how do you even know it was boring? To strengthen reading skills, you need to work on increasing your attention span. Best way to do this is to slow down. Read when you have ample time to read; when you rush through a book, you don’t actually understand the words you are blankly sprinting through, causing you to backtrack and then lose interest. Actively try to grasp the plot and dialogue; you can also highlight/annotate if it helps.
5. Try social reading
This is for all my extroverts, who think reading is boring because you’re quiet and alone. You can join/ start a book club! Reading isn’t necessarily a solitary endeavour; in a club, you can actively discuss an ongoing book with fellow readers, talking about what you loved, hated, didn’t quite get. It is a great way to socialise, jog your minds, come up with fan theories, or even fanfic!
These steps are all interconnected, and for starters, you’re good if you follow them! Over time, you will get your style; maybe reading post dinner is your thing, or 1 book a month is the farthest you can go. Everything is okay if it makes sense to you.
Welcome to the gang, new reader!