We have published an article on how to read more books. Now this post is for those who used to read in the past and now quit for some reason. A friend recently asked him how he could start reading the habit. When I asked him what kind of books he liked to read, his answer surprised me: he couldn’t remember the last time he had read a whole book, but he read a lot of news and things online. Another friend admitted her own difficulties in reading as much as before, especially fiction. According to her, there is enough drama in the whole world, so she didn’t feel like reading fictional drama.

There was one who said that he “would rather experience real life than read about it in books.” As for these kinds of people who think their lives are more interesting and so diverse as to give them all the wisdom and emotional skills to navigate through our increasingly complex societies, then I can’t break their sweet illusion. So here I want to address those who really want to read but somehow can’t.

There is a difference between reading news and articles online and reading a book. I am referring to long pieces (books or novels) and short pieces (news and online articles). Our cognitive processes are such that we read faster and with less comprehension and retention when we scroll through short online articles, blogs, and news stories and click link after link. Although I also read a lot online (news, book reviews, interviews with authors, etc.), books are still my main source of knowledge and thoughts. Reading is not just about improving the quality of our lives, but also the quality of attention we pay to things and people in our daily lives. It changes our way of relating to people and being in the world.

Here I suggest some approaches to revive and cultivate the habit of reading. It’s better to find a way to practice reading regularly organically instead of forcing yourself to read.

Move to Books from Online Articles

If you like to read online about a few specific topics, look for the best published books on those topics online or at your local library or bookstore. Don’t forget to check the name of the writer of the article you liked to read online, as they may also have published books. You’ll get a deeper, more thoughtful dive into those topics in book-length papers. Also ask booksellers and librarians about the book on that topic that you liked, as they really enjoy interacting with readers and recommending specific types of books. If you live in a place where there is no library or bookstore nearby, you can join the library online and download books to an electronic device.

Move to Books from Movies

If you like movies, find ones adapted from a book and then read that book. If possible (I insist) do not see the movie before reading the book. With a little Google search, you can find movies based on books that have already been released or will be released in the near future. Once you’re done with that book, try watching the movie adaptation and you’ll realize what you were missing by just watching the movie and not reading the book.

Read travel literature

If traveling is your thing, look for books written about or around the next place you plan to visit. Read those books before, during and after your trip. It will make the whole travel experience richer and more satisfying. Travel books are often about going the beaten path and it not only enlightens but also encourages us to wander into unknown places.

read short stories

If fiction books scare you, choose a storybook. You can usually finish them in one sitting, but they can whet your appetite for longer works of fiction. There are so many wonderful short stories available online. These stories can build on your usual reading habit.

read with friends

If you can’t read alone or need company while you read, join or start a book club. Personally, I prefer to read alone, but I do enjoy those weird book discussions with readers at book clubs. If you can’t find a book club near you, you can find one online. I love discussing books online with readers from all over the world. I am fascinated by how differently we all interpret the same book and I always learn something new. Another way is to find a friend who likes to read and ask him (or have him read) the same book you want to read or read the same book he is reading and then discuss chapter by chapter. This will take your understanding and enjoyment of the book to another level.

buy an e-reader

If you’re short on time, invest in an e-reader or a good audiobook membership. Then you can read while waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, during your daily commute, or while doing daily tasks. You will be surprised to know that you have so much time to read that was wasted. So take back some of this time and spend it on reading.

start a journal

Start a book journal every day where you write about what you read that day. This will help you form your thoughts and reflections on the themes and topics you have read about, which is the point of reading after all. Write in a private journal or on an online blog, whichever works best for you.

Set reading goals

If you’re driven by goal achievement and quantified individuality, sign up for a website like Goodreads or LibraryThing to record each book you read by date, or add a rating based on how much you liked that book. I use one of these sites to keep track of my personal library and to read the list. Set daily goals for reading. Achieving these goals will encourage you to set bigger reading goals and reach them.

Listen to book podcasts

Listen to some great book-related podcasts, where they invite authors and discuss their books. Many times I have bought a certain book after hearing its author talk about it. There are many podcasts that you can choose from. For short stories I like The New Yorker Fiction, The New Yorker Writer’s Voice, and NPR’s Selected Shorts. And for author interviews, I prefer BBC World Book Club, CBC’s Writers and Company, BBC Radio 4 Bookclub and The Guardian Books.

Attend literary events or festivals

If there is a book-related literary festival near you, try to go there at least once a year. Every year we have a book fair and a literature festival for a week, I never missed this event. I can’t go there all week, but I find time on the weekend. Celebrating books with other readers is an exceptional pleasure.

Bonus Tips

Mix up your reading list with different genres and themes. There are many book recommendation websites and ours is one of them. Sign up for regular book recommendations and get the book that interests you the most. You can read one book at a time, or you can choose several books from different genres and read a few pages or chapters from each book every day. Don’t try to continue reading the book you’ve lost interest in. It will kill your enthusiasm and passion for reading. There are so many books out there on every subject and topic imaginable, so put that book down and pick another one.

Reading a book is a personal investment that will pay off in the long run. The best books go beyond education, entertainment, and changing perspectives. It helps us develop and strengthen our cognitive and emotional muscles to better deal with whatever comes our way.

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