I used to consider myself a reader. Throughout my childhood, if I wasn’t sleeping, I was reading. Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. I taught myself to walk, brush my teeth, make breakfast, do the dishes… all with my nose in a book.
As I became increasingly busy, my reading addiction began to diminish. College, a full-time job, ministry, and a social life later… and I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the last time I read a book from cover to cover.
So trust me, I understand the struggle. I often feel like there’s just not enough time in a day to read.
But there are many reasons we should prioritize reading, besides the fact that it’s just plain fun. So this summer, I decided it was about time to introduce reading into my life once again. This is how I did it (and how you can do it too!)
Ease Into It
I have an embarrassing confession: sometimes I struggle to read even a blog post thoroughly. If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! You’re already a better reader than me!
With iMessage, Instagram, Snapchat, and every other communication service promising immediate social connection, it’s no surprise we struggle to incorporate reading into our daily lives. We’ve grown used to consistently updating online platforms, and it’s hard to consume a single piece of writing without getting distracted.
Recognizing my tendency to skim over blocks of text showed me I really needed to start small. So my first baby step toward reading more was to intentionally read the articles that came across my social media feed—not just skim them.
My challenge to you: read at least three blog, magazine, or newspaper articles every day. And don’t skim over them… actually read them! What point is the writer trying to make? Do you agree? Why or why not? Asking yourself questions about the content you’re consuming will help you to actually learn from and enjoy it.
Articles are a great place to start, but if you want to reap the full benefits of reading (like living longer and increasing your emotional intelligence), you have to read books, too. After creating the habit of reading articles every day, you may find it easier to pick up a book.
But with endless options to choose from, what book should you start with?
I have two types of books on my reading list. Books I want to read and books I ought to read. The books I want to delve into tend to be lighter reads—YA novels or 200-page memoirs. I’ve found it much easier to get into these books than it is to pick up War and Peace. Though I truly desire to read more dense volumes, I don’t want to be too ambitious with my choices at this point.
Someday I’ll finish all of the classics I’ve skipped… but that day is not today. And that’s okay! Maybe tomorrow your book choice will be a bit more scholarly, but for now, let’s simply focus on reading more. So you want to squeeze more reading into your life? Pick up a book. Any book. The more you read, the easier it gets!
Give Yourself Grace
So imagine this: you started reading more articles. You’ve finished a fun book or two. Maybe you’ve even tackled a challenging book you know you should’ve read in high school (and hopefully enjoyed it). Things are going well! You’re actually squeezing more reading into your daily life!
And then… two weeks go by and you haven’t read a single paragraph.
Reading more is just like working toward any other long-term goal—there will be peaks and valleys along the road, but the journey is worth it!
Forgive yourself for not changing immediately. Creating a habit takes time. But once that habit is formed, reading daily will be a natural and enjoyable part of your life.
So when you get stuck without the motivation to finish a book, don’t quit reading altogether. Just move on. Find something that fits your current interests and read that instead! Reading shouldn’t be stressful. If it is, just change it up until you enjoy it again!
This summer, I’ve used this method to successfully read a handful of books and countless articles. Some days I read thousands of words, while other times I barely find the time to read a hundred. But overall, I am happy with my progress.
Should you choose to prioritize reading, know that it’s not going to be easy. You might not be as consistent as you’d like to be, but “reading more” is a beneficial and admirable goal; just make sure you remember why you wanted to do it in the first place. It’s worth it!