One of the best things to come out of the pandemic for me was a renewed joy of reading novels. Prior to 2020, my reading habits had been changing for several years. I found myself in a book slump – reading fewer novels, and instead, spending far more time reading online articles, and getting stuck down rabbit holes of current events that rarely were great for my mental health or before-bed relaxation.
Along came Covid, with more time at home and more reasons to want to escape reality and enter the world of an engrossing psychological thriller or a fascinating historical fiction book. Several times a day I would find myself anxiously looking forward to my nightly reading time, and I’ve made my way through so many great novels over the past two years. My high school English teacher would be so proud.
If you are someone who finds it challenging to make time for “reading for pleasure,” here are some tips that may help you get into (or back into) the habit, and to ditch Netflix more often.
- Always have a book readily available. Whether you prefer an e-reader or an old-school hardcopy, be sure you are never without a book close by. That way, when you’re in the school pick up line, stuck in a waiting room, or in the parking lot waiting for your kid’s practice to end, you have something good to read instead of endless scrolling on your phone.
- Give audiobooks a try. Perfect for listening to when you’re exercising, cleaning your house, or driving anywhere. If you’re not used to them, start off with an engaging narrator and ease your way into listening to delightful stories. You might find that dusting and vacuuming become much more enjoyable.
- Follow a few “bookstagram” accounts for great suggestions. Also known as book Instagram accounts, these are excellent resources for you to find out about the latest book releases and favorites lists. Some of the most popular ones are @ReesesBookClub from Reese Witherspoon; @MomsDontHaveTimeToReadBooks from Zibby Owens, a publisher and literary podcast host; @BookishMadeleine from Madeleine Letellier, a New York publicist; and @Yuki.reads from a Bay Area book blogger.
- Join a local book club – or start one. Sometimes feeling accountable to others can spur you on to read more, and engaging in discussions about books can open your mind to new perspectives and possibly create new friendships. If you’re not sure where to start, head to your local library’s reference desk and inquire about book clubs. You can also check out meetup.com or Facebook for local groups, and if you prefer a virtual experience, look at Goodreads extensive list of virtual groups for every genre. If you’d prefer to start your own club, put out the call on social media, pick a great title, and offer to host the first meeting or select the place to gather. If meeting once a month seems too stressful, try every six or eight weeks and see how it goes.
- Do occasional book swaps with friends. Most of us have numerous books around our houses that we can lend or give away to a friend to read – especially at the new year when a lot of us are desperately trying to purge old stuff. Email a group of friends and set up a date for a quick book swap. Be sure to put a sticky-note inside any book you want returned – otherwise, just let them go off into the world and be passed along for others’ enjoyment. This is a wonderful way to try out new book genres that you might never have tried reading before.
Remember to take your time and set reasonable reading goals if you are just getting back into reading for pleasure. Whatever works for you, works for you. Just turn off the TV and put down your phone on a regular basis. Share your “read more” tips in the comments.
Happy new year and happy reading!