Books are arguably the most pleasurable sources of knowledge. Through them, you experience worlds and cultures different from yours, peek into the minds of criminals, and walk in the shoes of geniuses. You learn how the world’s greatest empires were built, how to roast duck perfectly, and what really happened in the Nigerian Civil War – really, books are the key to the world.
Many benefits of reading have been identified: stress relief, improved concentration and empathy, vocabulary expansion, and improved writing. Reading books, and not just newspaper articles and social media posts, stimulates the brain and improves brain function – your brain is like a muscle that needs to be exercised often. Reading books can help improve your memory and increase your attention span, and here’s my favourite: it has been scientifically proven that readers live longer!
Maybe you well know that books are important. You’ve tried to get into reading them, but you either just don’t have the time or get bored easily. Here are a few tips that might help.
1. Find your groove. Why do you want to read books? For pleasure, knowledge, or skill improvement? What are you interested in? Horseback riding? People? Electronics? Photography? History? Fiction? Your interests are will hold your attention for longer periods. Luckily, there are books about every subject under the sun, so fire up your search engine and start looking. When you’ve identified a book that you might like, read the synopsis and look for reviews online; you can find reviews on nearly any book on Goodreads, and you don’t even need to sign up to read reviews. Although, signing up definitely has its benefits.
2. Start easy. Don’t try to start with a 400-paged book if you’re just trying to get into reading. There is a chance that you may be overwhelmed and struggle through finishing the book. Start small, with newspaper articles, essays, short stories or anthologies. After you have mastered these, you can move on to books with 100 – 200 pages, but if you’re able to dive straight into big books, good for you!
3. Next, discipline is needed. Dedicate yourself to reading every day. You can set content goals (a chapter or two per day, 20 pages per day) or time goals (10 minutes – an hour each day). Set a particular time for it, if you need to. Also try to carry a book with you at all times; you can never tell when an opportunity to read will show up – traffic (not while you’re driving though), a bathroom break, or a long wait between meetings. Before you know it, you’ve finished one book and are moving on to another.
4. Pace yourself. There are probably millions upon millions of books in print (and online), and even if you read one book per hour, there is little chance that you will ever get to read them all. Don’t be in such a hurry to finish reading a book that you miss out on experiencing the book. Also, don’t set unrealistic reading goals; go at a pace that works for you.
5. Connect with people who will inspire/encourage you to read more. There is a thriving literary community on social media (most active on Instagram). There you will find beautiful pictures of books, people with similar interests and reading preferences, great book reviews, and book recommendations. You’ll learn about award-winning books and discover authors you could never find on your own. A good place to start is checking out the hashtag #bookstagram on Instagram.
Bonus: Try audio books. Dedicate time to listening to them. Nothing beats the scenes concocted in your imagination, but with audio, a human voice – many times, the author’s – reads the book to you. That can be a great way to learn how to pronounce words. Also, with audio books, you can listen while driving. Audible is a popular audio book app – check it out!
Got any more tips? Leave them in the comments section.
P.S.: I compiled a list of places where you can get books here. It’s long overdue for an update, and it’s getting one soon.