There was a long stretch in my childhood when a book rarely left my grasp. A constant companion on road trips, lazy afternoons on the porch, and late night reading marathons, I devoured books with imaginative fervor.
At some point, there was an elemental shift. Preoccupation with social media, web surfing, and reality television crowded out the reading hours, and the effort of engaging in a novel felt vastly greater than the ease of browsing Facebook. I know I’m not the only one to experience it. Throughout college, friends often mused over how much they missed reading as a hobby. As assignments mounted, textbook reading swelled, and deadlines loomed, reading for pleasure began seeming less and less pleasurable.
Part of the problem, I believe, is our addiction to a sense of busyness. Constant activity derives a sense of purpose and progress, something we fear we will miss out on by being still. It’s easy to forget how helpful that lost stillness can be in refreshing our souls. I’ve begun making a conscious effort to return to the habit of reading for pleasure, and love the calmness that comes with it. Getting lost in different stories and places is inspiring, and delivers a sense of peace that the Internet could never yield.
There are a few methods I’ve used to make my return to reading:
Form a book club. Reading groups are a great way to motivate yourself to read, as well as creating a fun atmosphere with friends. Pick a day of the month to make dinner together or enjoy dessert and discuss a new book. Or, use it as a way to keep in touch with long-distance friends, and host a book club over Google Hangout. Either way, keep each other accountable, read books that interest your group, and enjoy getting back into the habit of reading.
Use that library card. If you haven’t been to your local library in years, go back! The library is the best resource for picking up new titles to try, and it’s free! Many libraries offer programs to bring in specific books from other libraries, even if they don’t stock it at yours, making it incredibly easy to get a hold of anything you’re interested in. Some libraries now offer e-book rentals to download straight to your Kindle or iPad, and can be done from home.
Listen to audio books. This is my favorite way to keep reading when life is at its busiest. Libraries often stock a wide selection of audio books, which I check out and listen to while driving, getting ready for the day, or out on a run. I am still able to get lost in a story or learn about something new while completing another activity.
Take time to browse a favorite bookstore. Local bookstores are my absolute favorite. It’s fun to come across staff recommendations, or new titles that I haven’t seen at the library. I often leave a bookstore with a whole new list of novels I want to pick up!
Making the return to reading takes intentionality and a little determination to get started, but nothing feels quite like getting lost in a good book. Take some time, grab a cup of tea, get cozy in your favorite coffee shop, or lay out a blanket in a nearby park, and read.
P.S. Need some book suggestions? Check out our summer reading list!
Image via souralpha on Flickr