Reading books has always proven to be a great stress-relieving activity. From making us more empathetic as humans to helping us cope in a stressful environment, the benefits of having a consistent reading habit are limitless, and in these stressful times, reading can be a great way to destress, relax and calm the mind.
Places where reading is neither encouraged by the state or the society, many people do not have the habit of reading books.
With a bit of dedication, people can cultivate a reading habit. A writer, public library advocate and president of a book club shared with the Post tips on how a non-reader can develop a consistent reading habit.
Always start with easy reads
For a beginner, the best way to start their journey of reading books is by starting with easy reads, says writer Bina Theeng Tamang.
“When you are just starting out it won’t do you good if you begin with heavy and big books,” says Tamang, who writes in both Nepali and Tamang language. “A beginner should always read books that are light and are relatable to them and their age. If one starts reading books on complex subjects, they are most likely to get confused and face difficulty in keeping their reading habit consistent.”
Likewise, Indira Dali, public library advocate, suggests that it would be better if one starts by reading fiction rather than non-fiction.
“I recommend starting by reading poems, stories, and novels. You should always start reading literature if you want to develop a reading habit. Not only will it make your habit consistent, it will also help you to identify your interests and prepare you mentally to read non-fiction books as well,” says Dali.
Set a goal
When it comes to developing a reading habit, many bibliophiles recommend setting a goal to read a certain number of books within a timeframe. This, they say, is a great way to push oneself to read more books.
“Setting a goal can motivate people to achieve their goals and that might help them to read consistently,” says Abinash Baral, president of What The Book Club, a Pokhara-based book club.
Dali also agrees with Baral. According to her, setting targets is the best way to stay consistent.
“For most of us, if we are unable to fulfil the targets we have set, we feel that we have wasted our time. For many, this feeling of guilt drives and motivates us to achieve our goals,” says Dali.
Prepare a schedule for reading
There’s no denying that for beginners reading a book for an extended period of time can be tough. Making the whole experience of reading a book tedious is our ever-decreasing attention span.
And it’s also true that many who lead hectic lives will find it difficult to manage time to read as well. But if you are determined to cultivate a reading habit, you will have to quit making excuses, says Tamang.
“An effective way to get yourself to read is to set a schedule for reading, be it in the mornings, afternoons or evenings. The key here is to be disciplined and stick to the schedule,” says Tamang.
Read as much as you can, daily
A key advice to becoming an avid reader is to read consistently on a daily basis. Baral suggests that making reading a part of one’s daily routine is a great way to become a voracious reader.
“If you want to develop a reading habit, you have to make sure that you are reading something daily. In the beginning, it doesn’t matter what you read. The idea is to read just about anything that you want to or have access to,” he says
Even reading just a few pages daily is a good start, says Tamang.
“You can never force anyone to read. Those who are forced to read are very less likely to enjoy reading and their chances of quitting will be high. Since developing a reading habit is a gradual process, the best trick is to read at least a few pages initially and take it from there,” she says. “Once you start getting comfortable with that, you will end up wanting to read more.”
Read what interests you
Not everyone will find the same book interesting. Different people have different tastes in books. Some might find nonfiction interesting while some lean more toward fiction. And within fiction, there are multiple genres to choose from. If people read books that interest them, there’s a very high chance of them developing a reading habit, says Dali.
“Whatever book you read, you should enjoy it, and once you enjoy it, you will very likely finish the book,” says Dali, who has been advocating for public libraries for the past four decades.
Join a book club
While cinema as a form of art is enjoyed collectively, the same is not the case when it comes to reading books.
However, things are different when you are part of a book club. Members of book clubs read the same book and when they finish reading the book, they discuss with other members their interpretations of the book, things they enjoyed and things they didn’t like about the book. This aspect of being a book club member can make reading an enriching experience, says Baral.
“Reading with friends and people you know through book clubs can actually elevate your reading habit. Book clubs provide members a platform to share their opinions about books and get other people’s interpretations of the same books. This adds another interesting and interactive aspect to reading, which will very likely motivate members to read more,” says Baral.
Baral, who is a president of a book club, says that he used to read sporadically but it is only after joining a book club, he says, that his reading habit improved.
“Many of my friends started reading consistently after joining our book club. What I have seen is most new members initially read so that they can share their opinion about books, but soon they start enjoying reading and read more,” says Baral.
Quit a book if you don’t like it
Our society has always stigmatised the idea of quitting. But quitting is not always bad. When it comes to reading, if one is unable to relate and enjoy the book, even if they have read a few pages, it’s better to quit.
“People should never force themselves into reading books that they don’t enjoy. Reading is all about deriving enjoyment and happiness from a book. If one is unable to enjoy a particular book, it’s okay to stop reading it,” says Baral.
Forcing oneself to read is something that can affect consistency, says Tamang.
Keep a record
If you are not comfortable joining a book club and sharing your thoughts and opinions about books you have read, you can instead keep a journal and write down your opinions and thoughts about the books. This will be a very rewarding experience. Books allow readers to journey into different worlds created by the authors and after finishing a book, writing one’s views, criticisms, feelings about the book actually elevates the reading experience, says Baral.
“After every book I finish, I make sure I write at least two to three lines as my review of the book. I think if people start writing a journal or whatever they feel about the book, it allows them to look back at the things they learned from the book. Retrospecting about the things you have learned is always a rewarding experience,” he says.
- Ankit Khadgi/ TKP