I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always enjoyed reading. My earliest memories are of consistently getting in trouble as a child due to reading Terry Pratchett or Fighting Fantasy at night, it’s always something I enjoyed but ended up getting sidelined shortly after I turned 25 when I become a jaded, adult with a career.
Since leaving the UK I’ve become an avid reader again as it’s one of the best ways to discover new experiences and perspectives on life as well as engage the mind and reduce stress. Reading is my meditation. It’s New Years Day, 2018, and the end of a cycle which is always a good time for reflection, here’s a short list of some of the observations I’ve made looking back over the last 4 years of my reading habit!
1) Always Carry A Book With You
There’s a saying in photography circles, the best camera is the one you have with you and the same philosophy applies to books, if you always have a book to hand you will always have something to read. I don’t have the luxury of a local library or the ability to buy and own real paper books but I am fortunate enough to have both an iPad and an iPhone letting me access the huge Amazon Kindle library with the ability to sync between devices! Now wherever I am, I can always reach in to my pocket and read something with no excuses, and I find reading far more valuable than checking Facebook in my downtime.
2) Form A Regular Habit
I’m a big fan of routine, it helps get things done and having a routine for reading is no exception! In Phuket I’d always read whilst eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. More recently I’ve been getting in to Starbucks when it opens at 7am and then reading until 8am when I go to the gym, getting in 7 hours of reading a week. This blog post was actually inspired by reading in Starbucks earlier this morning and reflecting on how lucky I am to be able to do that each day.
3) Surround Yourself With People Who Read
They say you are the sum of your 5 closest friends and by surrounding yourself with people who share the same values as you do, it will rub off. Everyone I know is always reading and always talking about the books they have read, making recommendations and sharing their conclusions. Being in an environment like this is motivating and inspiring. It really helps to find your tribe that will let you grow and flourish.
4) Create A Reading List
If you have a list of books you want to read, you will always have something to read, no excuses. By creating a reading list, either on Good Reads, Kindle, your notepad etc you will never be stuck with out a book. When doing anything it’s always a good idea to remove as many obstacles and unknowns as possible from your path so by being prepared, when you finish your current book there is nothing stopping you from starting a new one! My reading list has a habit of growing faster than I can keep up though, which just motivates me to read more.
5) It’s OK To Stop Reading A Book You Don’t Like
Until recently I’d never given up on a book, anything I’d started I read through to the end. That is until I picked up How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson. Reading that felt like a painful chore where every line put me to sleep. At first I felt obligated to finish it, I’ve never stopped a book half way through before, if I stopped then I’ve failed this challenge… But why should reading be a challenge? Why should you be forced to continue something you aren’t enjoying? For me reading is a fun activity where I get to relax, be entertained, learn and grow. If a book isn’t ticking your boxes it’s ok to put it down and pick up another. This isn’t University, there’s no required reading, just because someone else likes or recommends something doesn’t mean you have to.
6) Choose Topics You Will Enjoy
It’s always best to front load yourself for success as much as possible. If you want to read more books, choose books, topics and ideas that you’re interested in, passionate about and will enjoy, that way reading will be a pleasant and rewarding experience. When you do have a reading routine in place though, make sure to test yourself with new ideas from time to time to push your boundaries! I know I love reading about trashy thrillers or anything about psychology and evolution so anything by Dan Brown or Richard Dawkins will be read on release! Reading about money or a biography though was never something I thought would interest me so I shied away from them. I’m surprised to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story and Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad are the two best books I read in 2017. In fact I wish I could have read Rich Dad Poor Dad 18 years ago!
These are the 6 main things that help me continue reading. I have tried to set goals like read 52 books in a year and I’ve tried to listen to audiobooks and they didn’t really work for me. Blogging about the books I’m reading has slowed down because I’m not able to articulate the benefits of the book sufficiently and as an exercise in formalising my notes to solidify my understanding of the book’s topics, my approach is sorely lacking. I want to work on that in 2018.
What do you guys do that help you to read more?