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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Suffering a reader’s block? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to develop a reading habit


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“It’s a waste of time. How do you not get bored?” My non-reader friend in college was physically repulsed by the idea of wasting her ‘life force on dried ink splattered on dead trees’. Reading is like dark humour, not everyone gets it. A matter of mystery to non-readers, how readers could be so transfixed by the sea of ink for hours and days. Reading is a chore for them, a necessity for assignments or exams. Picking up a book for non-readers is difficult, probably more than ‘King Author’s Sword.’ Time pitifully crawls, dragging minutes into hours and hours into days, when a non-reader picks up a book.

Give reading a chance and see how it changes your world. (Pixabay)
Give reading a chance and see how it changes your world. (Pixabay)

Reading is slow and steady, like a tortoise. But no one likes a tortoise in reality. Unlike social media, where they can ‘tap..tap..tap’ and ‘swipe..swipe..swipe’ away, a page turn is more delicate. With the shift in information consumption, bite-sized information is more desirable. Albeit more organised and digestible, it has left indelible and irreparable blows to the attention span. Large blocks of text now seem like a mountain to the human eyes. The age of visual and accessible entertainment also pushed away the reading culture. While the excuse of a busy lifestyle may seem convenient, it’s lazy rationalising. If there’s time for a quick scroll on social media every 15 minutes, which adds up to an hour or two at the end of the day; then surely one can read even if it’s for 30 minutes.

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Reading has something for everyone

Contrary to popular belief, the literary world has something for everyone. Every subject or topic has a book devoted to it. Books are like parallel universes, everything that exists in ours, will be present in the books. Granted, reading is a task for sure in the age of easy entertainment, but if one gives it a chance, it slowly grows on you. Apart from the textbook benefits like widening the worldview, learning, and mental stimulation, books feed scripts to your brain to direct them- visualing a whole new world of characters and emotions. It expands our creativity and imagination, nourishing our emotional intelligence. We are like gods in our own right when we read, and see new worlds inside our heads.

ALSO READ: Alex Michaelides: “Novels are about expansion”

The quest to be a reader

It is a journey from being a non-reader to a good reader. Here’s the step-by-step break down to help you on your journey.

  1. Introspect, yes a big word, but look within and ask what interests you, what has your immediate attention without needing any gaudy headline screaming at you. You google for these even if they are not trending on X.
  2. Take online quizzes on your personality and preferences. It will help you understand your expectations. Are you outgoing or a homebody? What are your favourite sitcoms and OTT series, and even what TV show character are you? If you are big on the US sitcom Friends, then obviously you will devour the found-family trope. Or if your personality is like Phoebe, then quirky graphic novels may be the thing for you.
  3. Look for patterns in your media consumption. Open up your Netflix library and check what kind of genre you added the most, or the ones you liked.
  4. Surf the internet about different book genres (fiction, non-fiction, romance, thriller, memoir, fantasy, and so on.) Look up ‘book tropes’, recurrent themes in a book (family drama, coming of age, the reluctant hero, small-town setting, enemies-to-lovers, unreliable narrator, and so..) These will help you streamline your preferences more.
  5. Go to the nearest bookstore or library, and no, you don’t have to buy anything. Remember, baby steps lead to glory one day. All the books are categorised according to different genres. Explore and see which title calls out to you; read the blurbs and check if you find anything interesting.
  6. Connect with readers, or even non-readers, on their quest to be good readers. Peer pressure is real; if you hear your friends talk about their last read, you will feel FOMO and be compelled to pick up that book. Again, with friends, you build a community over reading where you debate and deliberate, making you bond over the love for reading. Join book communities on Instagram and hop on Goodreads to look for genres and topics you care about. Goodreads frequently publishes wonderful recommendations on different genres.
  7. Lastly, reading should be treated like your Snapchat or Duolingo streak. Build it slowly, first week read only for 15 minutes, then next week move to 30 minutes, and so on. This works perfectly, even if you struggle with a busy schedule.

Follow these steps to slowly develop the habit of reading, and in no time you’ll pull all-nighters to finish that favourite book of yours instead of binging on Netflix.


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