Recently I was asked how to read books by a friend who would love to read but could not stay committed to reading. She is comfortable reading small books with few leaflets and gets discouraged to read when a book has more pages.
After seeing the effects of reading; the change it brings to people and the value it adds to them, she was ready to read but didn’t know how. Her story is common to many people- we know it’s good to read but we cannot get ourselves to read and those who buy books never read them.
It’s surprising how I’ve become an avid reader, I always dozed off when reading so I never liked reading, until one day a question from a friend got me looking for a book. I can’t explain what happened but I found myself in a bookstore buying books.
Being an avid reader is not a gift, it’s a skill we can all develop if we discipline ourselves, and this was what I had to share with my friend when she asked how to develop the reading habit after having the passion for it.
1. Have a Reading Plan
Everything that’s important to you have been planned and scheduled and you will make time and give them the needed attention to execute them, that is how you treat reading. It shouldn’t be something you do when you are bored or do to while away time, have a book in mind at the start of your day, include it in your schedule, set timelines, if possible find a place for reading, invest in books- budget for books and buy them, and make time to read. Have a daily plan to read and make the needed sacrifices to make yourself available to read.
2. Set Reading Goals
Challenging yourself to read doesn’t happen by accident, you have to set goals to achieve to help you measure your progress. For starters, you can set small achievable goals; how many pages/chapters do you want to read daily, what subject areas do you want to read within a period, how many books do you want to read etc. Developing the reading habit should be as important as every item on your priority list. Have reading goals and targets and commit to achieving them.
3. Be in a Company of Readers
It is said that you are the average of the 5 people you walk with, meaning you are easily influenced and become the dominant character of the company of people you move with. The same thing will happen when you are in the company of people who love to read- you will be influenced by their love for books, you will constantly hear about books when you are with them, find answers to your reading needs, and will be encouraged and motivated to read. I recommend TBH Book Club, a reading club that helps people to grow their reading habits and personal development.
4. Have Accountability Partner
It is easy to go off track when you start developing the reading habit alone, that is why it is necessary to have an accountability partner. Find someone who you can account your progress to and put you back on track when you veer off your reading goals. Share your goals with them and be ready to listen and submit to their feedback.
5. Be disciplined and Consistent
Discipline is what will keep you on the journey to developing a reading habit. You will not always feel like reading but to grow the reading habit, you have to make time to read. When you choose reading over the feeling and excuse of not reading, you are being disciplined.
Consistency is when you practice the skill daily or continuously within a specified period. You keep reading till it becomes a habit. For a starter, be consistent and disciplined in the small and you will yearn for big.
6. Celebrate Progress
Acknowledge when you are making strides with your reading goals and reward yourself. It is a personal journey and others are not obliged to praise your progress so do it yourself. Celebrating our progress doesn’t mean you relax on your reading efforts, it is an encouragement that you are making progress and can do more. Don’t be too hard on yourself, give yourself a special treat when you achieve a milestone.
7. Share What You Read
When you begin to share lessons, reviews, and excerpts of the books you read, you build an audience who look forward to hearing from you and this keeps you reading because you have an obligation to your audience. This activity also makes your reading more productive- you learn more and appreciate what you are reading better.
8. Read on Subjects You Enjoy.
Some books are not boring, they are just not the genre you want and you might get discouraged when you start your development process with such books. People might recommend books to you based on their interest and in your bid to grow the reading habit, you start reading, lose interest, and it gives you a perception on reading entirely. When you get the enthusiasm to read, take time and explore your area of interest, don’t give up on your first attempt, keep reading till you find your primary area of interest. For variety of books at affordable prices, I recommend The Book Haven, contact them for every book you need.
9. Be Curious, Ask Questions, and Learn.
Developing a habit is a continuous learning process and to become an avid reader, you have to stay curious to learn. Ask the right questions from relevant people, share your challenges in your development process and get answers, go for reading events where you can learn more and network and have fun while reading, add variety so it doesn’t become monotonous and boring. Doing these stimulate the interest and enthusiasm to read.
10. Stay Focused
There’s the tendency of being distracted by other things when you start the reading journey. A subtle distraction can be comparing your progress to an avid reader’s. It is good to be motivated by others’ reading goals to help your progress but do not become a victim of comparison where someone’s progress makes you feel behind and incompetent, hence neglecting the progress you are already making. Keep your focus on your goals, discipline yourself, and take your reading journey one day at a time.
Reading is a life skill relevant in every area, it is not an option and you shouldn’t make excuses for it. Not everyone loves to read but all can develop the reading habit and I hope my tips help.