I’ve been in a reading drought pretty much all year. I have had particularly bad luck at choosing stories that click with me, and so I lost my bookish momentum. Booooo. So. Last month I decided to do something about it. Here are some strategies that helped me regain my reading mojo:
Schedule time to read, and read.
The best habits are triggered by other occurrences, like getting up and brushing your teeth. I hadn’t figured out exactly when I wanted to read, so I tested it out by promising to read every morning and evening, triggered by finishing breakfast and then by getting tucked into bed.
So if you’re not sure where to put your habit, try sticking to something and see how you like it. The point is to start – read just a little bit. A page, even. Starting is the hardest part of forming a habit, so once that first step becomes automatic, carrying out the actual habit (reading more than a page) will not feel like a chore.
Go stand in a queue.
Sounds like weird advice, but hear me out. Sometimes I feel guilty for reading for fun. I feel like I can be doing something more productive.
So arriving early, standing, and reading while I wait, is like found time. I love finding my seat at the theatre early, or waiting outside a restaurant for a friend, or embracing a long queue by bringing a book and having some reading time [because it’s Edinburgh, it’s August, it’s the Fringe, and queues are everyday life]. Reading while waiting feels way less guilt ridden, and most importantly, reminds me that reading is GREAT.
A note: I consider this worthwhile only if I have at least 10 minutes to dive back into the story.
But do NOT bring your book with you everywhere.
Most people will tell you to carry your book with you everywhere you go. Rory Gilmore certainly makes it look tempting. I say only bring a book if you are anticipating having enough time to read it, and to focus on reading it.
Making the conscious decision to leave your book at home is like turning off your phone. It’s saying that you will devote your full attention to whatever activity is at hand, and you can go home to your book later. Often I read a book in its entirety without it leaving my bedside table. It’s a luxurious, cosy feeling, curling up and reading at the end of the day, not to be spoiled by lugging around my special book when I don’t have time for it. The poor thing!
An exception: if you’re racing through a book and simply cannot put it down, by all means sneak your copy of Looking for Alaska under the table at your dinner out; your parents probably won’t even notice you weeping…
Stop reading what doesn’t inspire you.
It’s okay to put books down.
I repeat. It’s okay to put books down.
Reading for fun is supposed to be fun. Respect yourself and your time by saying goodbye to a book that isn’t inspiring you halfway through.
Choose your book based on your lifestyle.
What you read is essential to your daily existence. It’s a hectic time right now, especially with the Fringe as my main source of story, so I’m indulging in non-fiction.
Remember that reading is luxury.
“Time is luxury and people waste it… What makes me happy most is reading and that is how I spend my time. I think the most concentrated form of experience you can have is reading… when you’re reading you’re in touch with the best brains, they’ve concentrated what they want to say.” – Vivienne Westwood in The Goddess Experience by Gisèle Scanlon
Follow inspiring bookstagrammers.
Some people take such beautiful pictures of books and capture the spirit of reading so well that I want to close down Instagram and grab a good book! My favourites:
Read something you know will get you hooked.
Reread an old favourite, or tap into a genre that’s fun and quick for you. For me, that’s YA, so I picked up the next book in the Lara Jean series [I talk about it here!].
Read books about books.
Nothing gets me excited about reading like Matilda, The Uncommon Reader, or The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. Or of course, Northanger Abbey.
“It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language” – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Browse a bookstore.
Block off a few hours and wander the shelves of your favourite, most inspiring bookshop. I recommend Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, or the bookish town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales.
Find a reading buddy!
Find a friend who is just as passionate about books as you are, and geek out. You don’t even have to be reading the same book, just check in and talk about what you’ve enjoyed. If you’ve been meaning to read some Jane Austen, I’ll be your reading buddy! Sign up for Letters from Jane Austen, and I’ll check in with you every week with modern-day thoughts on the heroines’ happenings.
Next month’s habit: Eat something green every day
Last month I focused on reading, now I’m moving on to eating.
It’s as simple as this: I feel better when I eat salad. But I’m not in the habit of making it myself. As for eating out, it’s like going to an art gallery: I never quite feel like it, but when I’m there I’m so glad I came. Salads don’t usually look tastiest on the menu, but are so yummy when they arrive. So next month check in to see how I get on!
P.S. Reading List for Wanderlust