Soooo… I do this thing.
I do this thing where I stop reading for a few days, and those days turn into weeks, and all of a sudden I have no idea what I was reading and I’m completely out of the habit. I really, really hate it.
But over time I’ve found a trick to kickstart things when I’ve been away from reading for a time. If you can relate, give this a try next time and let me know what you think.
- Find a book (suggestions from friends or other trusted sources are best) that is fun and easy-to-read and fast-paced. This might even be a book you’ve read before that you know you’ll enjoy and will move through quickly. You want a page-turner of a book whose content won’t frustrate you. (Think Gregor or TFIOS)
- Find a single time slot in your week when you can kick back and enjoy yourself for 30 minutes or so. Maybe this is in the morning before the house is abuzz, or under a tree while the kids play on the playground. Perhaps the forecast calls for rain Thursday and during the kids’ quiet time you can sit by the window and cozy up. Or maybe you ride the metro to work and can use your commute to read. Just think of when this time might be, and make yourself a note to sit down and read at that time.
Hopefully this single 30-minute slot will get you far enough into the book that you’ll naturally finish it sooner than later. If it doesn’t, find another 30-min slot and repeat.
3) When you’ve finished the book, assess how you’re feeling about your reading. Are you ready to tackle that book on finances or de-cluttering or or parenting or your spiritual life you’ve been meaning to get to? If so, dive in! If not, plan to start another quick read. If you just read a book from a series, go on to the next one. Or you could read something else from that author, or get a suggestion from a friend. The main thing is to start another book soon.
That’s it. Are you surprised?
Here’s why it works. When you pick the right sort of book, you trick yourself into reading more. The thirty minutes you devote on the first day is enough to get you hooked, and once you’re hooked, you’re on your way to carrying a book with you, looking for spare moments to sneak in a few more pages. Within a few days, you’ve been reading. (Hey! You’re reading!) And the practice of having a book around plus the momentum you’re gaining go a long way toward keeping the party going.
The only challenge I’ve found to this technique is that it’s counter intuitive. Even though I’ve reliably used it several times before, it’s hard to imagine that re-reading the Hunger Games could possibly be the best next step toward my actual goal of finishing The Histories by the end of the year. But like many things in life (think exercise), reading begets more reading. And if I can’t muster up the willpower to dive in to that work of non-fiction that’s been sitting on my shelf all year, easy-fiction somehow bridges the gap to get me there.
Of course, no technique is a magic pill. If you want to keep reading after your jumpstart, you’ll have to be mindful. Start that next book right away. Ask around what people are reading. Start talking books with your friends; you can discover good titles this way and if they are excited about books, you might find their interest contagious.