As an avid reader who gets through about five books a month on average, I’m often asked, ‘how do you find the time?’. The answer, like for everything else in life, is that we don’t find the time, we make it. I’d been a big reader since childhood and found reading to be my happy place but there were some years, especially as a working mother juggling family and work responsibilities, when I fell out of the habit. A few lifestyle switches helped me make time for reading. I’m sharing these here in the hopes that they bring wonder and joy to your life too.
Find your match
When discovering what to read, you have to think of what you find interesting. Bookshops are a great place to browse, but there are also many online resources for recommendations (and I hope this column too, going forwards). Pick something easy to start with, a thriller or a bestseller known to be a page-turner. The excitement of finishing a book will motivate you to keep going.
The rule of thumb is to read the first twenty pages of a book and if it doesn’t rock your boat, let it go without remorse or guilt and try something else. This is in no way a reflection on the quality of the book, or our own capability as a reader. Sometimes, we love books that others don’t, and other times we really can’t appreciate super-hyped brilliant authors (sorry, Haruki Murakami!).
Read widely across genres and keep an open mind, you may surprise yourself. For some it may be crime thrillers, for others non-fiction memoirs, literary fiction, or Young Adult (YA) fantasy. In the famous words of Joey Tribbiani from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (and I’m quoting in a completely different context here), “There are lots of flavours of ice cream out there […] Grab a spoon!”
Set up a date night
Now that you’ve found something to read, remove the obstacles in the way.
I find the best time for me to read is at night, about an hour or so before going to bed, but the biggest distraction is my phone. When I start scrolling, an hour passes by without me even realising. One of the things I do is to plug my phone for charging away from my bed and then grab a book.
Promise yourself just fifteen minutes of reading. If you’re enjoying it, you may read for longer. And if the book is boring, at least it’ll put you to sleep. Win-win!
Reading platforms such as Goodreads allow you to set yourself a reading challenge for the year. I find that the element of turning reading into a challenge or a game, makes me excited to finish as many books as possible. The downside is that we may be tempted to read shorter books and may put off the big tomes.
Keep the excitement alive
Some might think that listening to an audiobook is cheating, however, I’m not advocating this as an approach to learning for an exam. If you’re reading for leisure, audiobooks are just as great as a physical book. Not to forget that there are those with vision or learning challenges, such as dyslexia, for whom audiobooks can open up a new world.
I’m a huge fan of audiobooks for allowing one to multi-task. I used to sit frustrated in traffic until I started listening to audiobooks during my work commute and it transformed the quality of my life. The key is to listen while performing a mindless or repetitive task that you can do on autopilot, such as driving, cleaning or ironing.
Books are the most reliable companions we can have and I hope that you find the ones that will carry you through the different stages and experiences of life.