How to Get Yourself to Read More

by self-proclaimed reader extraordinaire, Teah Abdullah

Reading is a difficult task. It takes a lot of brain power to get yourself focus enough to read through a page, and when something does not grab you instantaneously, it is more likely that you will give up. Reading requires time, and one of the most common excuse I have heard why people do not read is because they “do not have time”.

But fear not! The time you think you do not have can still be saved! Like saving water into a bucket, except maybe less physical and more realistic than a stupid metaphor like “saving water into a bucket”.

Here are a few tips to develop the reading habit and stick to it like glue to a bucket:

  1. Goal! Have an aim for your reading habit: In 2009, my friend Lana told me she was going to read 50 books. I thought it was a great idea, so I joined in. I kept track of the books I had read; finding the balance between my last year of university and reading through the books I devoured. The year after, I aimed lower (30) and fulfilled it. In 2011, I aimed to read a lot with no number associated to my goal and managed to reach 70. Having a goal is great because it helps you challenge yourself. Do not compete with others, compete with yourself. Along the way, you will be able to read good, fun things!
  2. Compliment Yourself! You can still have a life:  An extremely sad argument I have come across is how reading keeps you away from living your life. False. I mean, the Internet you spend over four hours a day using kept you from living your life properly, too, and we have accepted that as a norm. Do not use the argument above unless you have pledged to stop using the Internet! As a person who travels regularly, the times I have spent inside a plane is the ideal time to read before I explore unknown places. Read while you are in a plane or a bus; a taxi ride from a museum to your hotel can be spent reading half a short story. Wind yourself down from a hard day’s work by opening a book (including e-books!)  Just do not read while you are driving. That is ridiculous.
  3. Put Some Weight On! Bring a book everywhere: 7/10 times, the book I carry in my bag does not get read while I am going about my daily activity. However, there are times when you have to wait for a long period of time that came unexpectedly. This is where the book comes in handy. Your friend is late for lunch! You are queuing to pay your bills! Your doctor just had a concussion so she cannot see you immediately! Rather than fiddling around and lowering the battery-life of your phone, open a book and do not make eye contact: the person on the chair opposite you is judging you read. During the publication of this article, I have been going to the hospital everyday for the past two weeks to take care of my father. While sometimes he gets bored of talking to me about the political situations in the region, books are great companion in a dreary hospital or when your father no longer wants to entertain you about how vapid some leaders are!
  4. Bring Me to Bed! Read before you sleep: With technology, it is easy to be distracted by a machine; scrolling up and down your tablet or smart phone before you go to sleep, and catching up with the latest Tweets before you finally rest your head dreaming about your Followers. But if you want to find time to read, doing it before you sleep is a great way since it helps you relax your brain. Have a book next to your bed at all times for nights when insomnia attacks. Or hey! Why not put an e-book in your fancy-schmancy iPad and read that instead of guessing that Draw Something drawing that looks like a butt crack! (It’s ‘meander’, by the way.)
  5. Separate with your Lover! Let go of technology once in a while: Technology is great! I have an iPhone, and I like it! We get so invested in these machines that we forget about reading as an alternative. It’s so easy to drown in the glare of these machines than texts off a book. Discipline yourself to let go of your tablets and iPad’s. If you’re reading off them, switch off the Internet. My best friend Nadiah has seen more Whatsapp messages where I say “I gotta go read! Bye! <3” than me actually having a proper conversation with her. We need to know our limits to technology in order to give time to reading. Find a balance between the two if you have to! For every ten minutes you spend on your iPad, give twenty minutes to reading! Angry Birds can wait! The birds will still have the same level of anger when you open the app tomorrow morning!
  6. Don’t Be a Snob! E-readers as an alternative: A problem I have noticed in Brunei is not being able to find the book your heart long for. Here is where e-reader comes in. A lot of avid readers are reluctant to get e-readers, but it is the quickest way to get what you want to read. You can argue about the magic of paper; if it matters so much to you, I am sure there is a newspaper somewhere you can lick and snog. Take note that you use a computer every single day, and you communicate with your friends via machine more than face-to-face. Keep the e-reader option available for yourself. E-readers are meant to make reading convenient for us: abuse the technology!
  7. Seek the Great Perhaps! Read genres you don’t usually read: We take comfort in the familiar, but sometimes (for me!) reading fantasy all the time gets boring. Wandering into a genre you are not familiar with helps you discover a love for reading. When you read a book from a different genre that you suddenly became completely enthralled with, you will find more books of the same genre, and it helps you feed your zeal to read. Read a comic if you constantly read dystopia! Read Young Adults if you usually read biographies! Read sci-fi if you normally read romance!
  8. I Ship It! Read online fanfictions: I am always joking about fanfictions to the B:Read founders, but I am almost always never joking about this fact. There are a lot of good fanfictions out there on the Internet. Some of these writers have turned into published authors. Cassandra Clare wrote one of the most popular fanfiction in the Harry Potter fandom, and now all she does is frustrate me with how engaging The Mortal Instruments books are. You will find great writers out there online for free. Just because they are not published, they are not always bad!
  9. Drop It Like it’s Hot! Don’t force yourself to finish a bad book: No, seriously, you really do not have to finish that terrible book you are reading. Doing this turns you off from reading altogether sometimes. I have read terrible books until the end and would stop reading for a week as a reaction. Drop it once you cannot fathom what is going on, or if that character is terribly written, or there are more plot holes than the pot holes in Gadong. Do yourself a favour and do not go through that terrible book. Not every book was meant for you.

Ultimately, reading itself is an art that requires disciplined. Thus, following some of the above will help you to read more. These advices are not necessarily strict rules that you have to follow, but I sincerely hope you do because nothing makes B:Read happier than people reading a lot, and all the time!

(Originally posted on B:Read’s Tumblr)

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