We all love to be entertained. I know I do especially after long hectic days.This quest for entertainment is why reading is not the unwinding activity of choice for most people.
For a lot of people,reading as an activity is closely associated with being in school/academia. Even as a young adult who loved reading and studying literature, I know studying the bulkiest volume of The Complete Works of Shakespeare was not exactly comparable to watching back to back episodes of Prison break. I remember watching the DVD of Season 1 in one weekend back when I clearly had loads of texts to read(as an English literature major).
If someone like me who is quite literary can admit that TV does ‘seem’ more relaxing, let’s think of that person whose biggest reward for life after school was never having to read big volumes .At the time I graduated social media didn’t even exist like it does today. I am not one of those people who blames social media for every new societal ill. That said,it’s not hard to see the impact that social media/instant entertainment has on people’s reading habits. I know it’s a constant struggle for me to stop the scrolling for the pages. One of the biggest habit shifts that moved me from reading 0 books in almost 5 years to 42 last year was being more mindful of how much time i spent on social media or watching tv.
A study of 11,000 children tracked from their birth in 2000 conducted by the University College London found that “social media could be detracting from reading and homework, with a potential knock-on effect on their literacy,” suggesting a link between time spent on social media and levels of literacy. Similarly, the American Psychological Association recently published research finding that less than 20 percent of US teens “report reading a book, magazine, or newspaper daily for pleasure,” yet more than 80 percent say “they use social media every day.”AT WHAT COST SOCIAL MEDIA: ARE PEOPLE STILL READING?-Instinctif.com
I am more a carrot than stick person. So I would rather spend more time thinking of ways to make reading more appealing than making people feel guilty for being on Instagram or Netflix.
How can we make reading seem like an equally gratifying activity? I thought it would be great to share a few tips;
1.Read a book that is also a movie/tv series; Personal caveat here;I will ALWAYS prefer the book to a screen play. That said if you struggle with enjoying reading or following the story in a book,it might be worth reading a book about a movie or tv series with a storyline you absolutely loved. A good recent example of this is Bridgeton by Julia Quinn that was recently adapted as a series on Netflix. A lot of people who might have never picked up the book have now decided to read the book to get a fuller picture of the story that they enjoyed on screen. I have not watched or read this particular story as romance is not really my genre,that said you can use this tip over a wide selection of books that have made it onto big and small screens.
2.Skip over or skim part the book; Cheating! I know! But similar to reading summaries shared in my last article, the point of these tips are to get you to enjoy reading. Some authors are wordsmiths and love words. This tendency means that sometimes a book can go and on before getting to the point that it is trying to make. If this is making reading a chore for you, you can choose to make it less boring for yourself by just skipping straight to the part that interests you. This tip goes against my natural literary grain. But it’s not about me,it’s about how making people who are less enthused about reading viewing it as an enjoyable activity.
3.Read socially; I know this one seems pretty obvious but please stay with me. Joining a book club/getting a reading buddy is a great way to get reading, meet new people, hear recommendations and generally get into more contact with books. In pre-covid times one of the most discussed office banter topics was favourite TV shows. Book clubs or book buddies allow you to do just the same. They give you a forum to discuss with others what you enjoyed about the book,what you didn’t like it, social themes, issues you had with the writing etc. It is also a good way to encourage yourself to read books that you wouldn’t have normally.The social element also makes it something different from your day to day activities. I host a virtual bookclub called BookMark bookclub. The bookclub meets every four to six weeks to discuss a chosen book. Our bookclub pick for March 2021 is Girl,Woman,Other by Bernadine Evaristo.
4.STOP reading books that bore you; This is another pretty obvious tip but is one some people feel guilty about. Reading will be a chore if you’re just trying to get to the end of a book that you are not enjoying. I would always say give it a few chapters. If you have given it a few chapters and you are still bored out of your wits,then it is ok to stop.Move on to another book. Reading books that bore you further reinforces the notion that ‘reading is boring’ . So if you find a book that just can’t seem to spark your interest, do not feel guilty about abandoning it.You do not have to finish every book you start. The more you read books you enjoy,the more you begin to view reading as an enjoyable activity.
5.Reward yourself for reading. Remember I am a carrot girl. And nothing motivates most people like knowing that there is a reward at the end of an activity. So if you struggle with reading, think of unique ways to reward yourself when you do read. It could be something as simple as ’A chocolate bar after 10 chapters’ or more elaborate as a ‘New pair of boots for finishing 6 books in the next 3 months’.
Rewarding yourself when you achieve your reading milestones and goals will be very personal so it would be best to set it based on what you think would spur you on the most.Rewards are a great way to keep the motivation up when you feel yourself struggling to keep up with the habit.
I hope you find these tips useful and hope they help in changing the ‘reading is boring’ narrative. Please do feel free to share with me any other tips or tricks you have employed to make reading a more enjoyable activity. Please do also share this article with someone who might find it useful.
As usual thank you so much for reading and have a lovely week ahead.