Rediscovering My Inner Reader

One of the things I remember clearly about my senior year of high school was how many books I read. I devoured book after book. Mysteries, suspense thrillers, classics, it didn’t matter. If I owned it, I read it, and I plowed through my to-be-read pile faster than ever. Then college happened. A double major, papers, assignments, studying anatomy and novels, and taking between six and eight classes a semester took their toll.  When could I squeeze in time for reading? I couldn’t. Even the summers I used to get ahead in my fall literature classes. Reading for fun was but a memory.

In November, the little nagging voice in the back of my head began to call out, “Read something! Read something!” So of course, I started to sort through my books for grad school and realized I had finished my reading list early. With a pang of guilt, I picked up a book I had been meaning to read since I got it for my birthday. It was the first time I had read a book during the school year in ages. It was like a sigh of relief. No having to constantly analyze the text (though I tend to do that passively anyway), no deadlines, no books I didn’t want to read.

When the semester at the university began again, I thought that was the end of my pleasure reading since I surely wouldn’t have time for it. Most people who stop reading for pleasure say it’s due to a lack of time, but I began to find times when I could read the books I wanted. Here are some ideas for reviving your inner reader:

  1. Read during your commute. Thinking back to senior year of high school, I realized a lot of my reading was on the bus to and from school. Nowadays, I drive myself to the university, so sadly, there’s no reading during my commute, but if you take a bus or train to work or school, bring a book.
  2. Before bed. An oldie but a goodie. You know when you’re playing on your computer when you know you’re past the point of doing anything productive and even Candy Crush is beyond your capabilities? Put the computer away and settle into bed maybe half an hour earlier than usual. It’s amazing how thirty minutes can accumulate into a book or two a month.
  3. Get a Kindle or a Kindle app for your phone. It can be hard to tote around a hard cover or even a paperback novel, but with a Kindle or Kindle app for your phone, your library is always on hand. If you have some free time on your lunch break or between tasks, you can open your book and continue where you left off. You’d probably reach for your phone anyway when boredom sets in, so why not read? Some books even let you download the ebook for free if you buy the paperback, which means you can read it even if you accidentally left the paperback at home.
  4. Read a book you actually want to read. Not to be a hipster, but I rarely like the books everyone is clamoring about. Twilight? Hated it. 50 Shades? Pointless. A Discovery of Witches? Not my taste. Instead of reading what everyone else is reading or what your friend suggested, go to the bookstore (or Amazon) and look for a book that actually catches your interest. You can also preview a book on Amazon, so if you start reading it and are hooked, download it. Nothing is worse than trudging through a book you hate, and it’s much easier to get into a book and make time for it when you actually want to read it.
  5. Read in the bathroom. I can already hear the resounding ewww. Do you go on Facebook or Twitter on your phone while you’re doing your morning routine or are taking a bath? If so, then get on that Kindle app. I’m a supporter of bathroom reading. As a caveat, I only read MY books in the bathroom, no books borrowed from friends are allowed. That’s just part of the book borrower’s honor code.

Most of these are really simple and probably very obvious, but as someone who read over a thousand pages over the course of two months by reading at night, in the bathroom, and between tasks, I can say that it all adds up. At the end of the day when you think you’re too mentally exhausted to do anything, you may find that reading will actually reduce stress and help to settle you down for the night.

The TL;DR version is find a book you want to read and you’ll find that there are gaps in your day when you can squeeze in reading, you just have to want to do it.

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5 Comments

Filed under Writing

5 responses to “Rediscovering My Inner Reader

  1. amo

    Hah, I’m with you on the “books that everyone is clamouring about”. I tried to read “Twilight”, I really did – just couldn’t get into it. However, “Harry Potter” was a glorious exception to that rule; I only picked it up to see what the fuss was about, and got hooked. And so did everyone else in my family.

    I actually never did stop reading for pleasure, even during grad school – I *have* to read at night, or I can’t get to sleep. But during those super-busy times, I ended up just re-reading favourites, my comfort books. It’s only been in the last few months that I’ve started reading “new” books again, and it really is a pleasure.

    • Kara Jorgensen

      I loved Harry Potter as well. One book worth the hype, lol. During the semester, I have a hard time not getting two fiction books muddled together. Now, it feels so good to read freely again.

  2. Very good. I had that time where reading was a myth. Then I fought the forces of procrastination and the army of Romulans that fire rays of stress. Now i read anywhere anytime. Great blog and advice.

  3. Books on CD or on the Audible App for your phone can help the commute time. I listened to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series this way. One issue–if you get to an interesting point in the story, you may sit in the parking lot for an extra few minutes before being able to tear yourself away from the story.

    • Kara Jorgensen

      Good idea. I wonder if I have the attention span for audiobooks. I love the idea of them, but while driving, my mind tends to drift.

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