Cultivating a reading habit.

open book with middle pages curved to make a heart
Photo by Aung Soe Min on Unsplash

What's your relationship with reading like? Is it a happy, fun-loving marriage? I'm talking about you're reading every day, you walk around with your current read, and you've gotta tell everyone about it. Or is it like a fling? A situationship where there's no commitment and you just pick up a book once in a while... when you're super bored or in the mood *wink, wink*? Perhaps, you're single and disengaged and there's not one book in your library, virtual or physical. 

If you're in an entanglement or situationship with reading or if you're in this thing as single as a dollar bill and want to trade it all (cues Jagged Edge and Fabolous) for a full-on marriage and don't know where to start, keep reading. 

My relationship with reading began when I was just a little girl, I saw my mom reading all the time (my aunt had her beat though- she'd read a new book every two days). We had many books in our house (my favourite were the Nancy Drew ones). I'm talking shelves and shelves of books from fiction to psychology books, medical books, recipe books, you name it. So it's no surprise that I now have a decent collection of books of my own, mostly self-improvement, a few wartime novels (usually Auschwitz-related), books about visual and digital design, and even books about web development. 

"Nellie, reading maketh a man so read all you can." I can still hear those words roll off my mom's tongue. I knew she was on to something but what I didn't know is that her infamous imperative was a spin on Francis Bacon's, "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." quote. 

girl in bed reading a book
Photo by David Lezcano on Unsplash
I think of books as one of the original social media platforms. Before the internet and Mark Zuckerberg's grand idea, it was through reading that we'd connect with people all over. It was how we travelled to other parts of the world without stepping foot inside a plane or ship. It's how we met new people. It's how we learnt outside of school. Fast-forward to now, all we need to do is hop on to Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook (or Meta?), etc. I'm all for social media but of course, it has its drawbacks which I'd rather not discuss at this time. 

Do you still buy physical copies like me?

I prefer to read physical books. there's just something so special about manually turning the pages, using a book marker, and smelling the fresh pages of a brand-new book. Walking through the aisles of a bookstore gives me such a good feeling. I feel alive. I'll reserve reading from a screen to short-form literature like blog posts and news articles.

I hope you're sill with me. If you've made it this far and are still interested in building a long-lasting healthy relationship with reading,  here are some ways you can do so.

Read what you're interested in, not just what's trending.

If you don't really know what you like, it's a good idea to explore different genres. From time to time, there are a few titles floating around on social media and while I have nothing against this, I have to say it's better to read what you genuinely like. It makes reading so much more pleasurable when you have a real interest. For instance, I don't really like fiction. but throw in some wartime-historical-holocaust stuff and sprinkle a bit of romance on it and I might find it appealing. 

Treat reading as a means to learn.

There's so much you can learn by reading. I've certainly learnt a lot of lessons on social and emotional intelligence through reading. Many people who we deem successful speak highly of reading books. Apparently, Bill Gates reads 50 books per year. Elon Musk claims to have learned how to build rockets by reading books. Rockets! Tom Corey, the author of Change Your Habits, Change Your Life, wrote that 88% of financially successful people devote 30 minutes or more each day to self-education or self-improvement reading. 

"Read 500 pages...everyday. That's how knowledge works. It builds up like compound interest."  -Warren Buffet. 

Now, 500 pages everyday is ummm, an unimaginable amount of reading for me but if it works, it works.

Try different formats of "reading".

Physical books are not going to appeal to everyone. Some of us just don't have the opportunity during our busy day to sit with a book for an hour or two. This is a good opportunity to explore audiobooks. A reading habit can become expensive if you choose to buy as many books as I do so e-versions may be cheaper and of course, there are ways to download for free (definitely not promoting this but by all means, get it how you can). 

Sidebar: Sometimes, physical contact isn't possible. Better to utilise technology to keep the relationship going and stay in touch...with the book.

Make time for reading.

I know we're busy. I don't know Bill Gates and Warren Buffet make it work but what I do know is that (1) we all have the same 24 hours and (2) we make time for what we want to make time for (this sounds like advice for someone who's always being fed the "I'm busy" excuse from a guy/girl who's just not that interested, right?). 

As much as you can, make some time for reading. While commuting to work, if you don't drive, is a really good opportunity. I have a friend who reads from her iPad or a physical book while at the gym. I don't know if I could do this but kudos to her for making it work. 

Carry a book around with you.

I always have a book in bag. Well, two books; one for reading and one for writing. Chances are that if you see me out and about, my little Michael Kors crossbody is open because the books prevent the functionality of the zipper. Whenever I get some free time, I make a decision. Do I want to read a few pages of my book or do I want to write? Do I want to consume social media content or listen to music? I give myself four options. Reading isn't always my pick but it's always an option. 

So there you have it, those are my tips!

Over to you...
So, really, what's your relationship with reading like? What are your thoughts on making reading a part of your daily routine? Do you agree with Francis Bacon and my mom that reading makes a man? Do you like physical books or are you cool with audiobooks and e-books? I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Until next time,


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