A great leader in Harry S. Truman once said, "Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers". This came from a man who played a vital role in concluding World War II, was a pioneer of the United Nations, successfully got the American economy on its feet after the war and started the all-important racial integration process. If he personally endorsed reading, you could only imagine the power of literature.
Reading, nowadays, has sadly shifted from a way to gain knowledge and entertainment to a mere requirement of passing exams. Most people consider it "boring" or "not cool" and they would rather stand on nails than read a book. However, the main question is, do they know what they're missing on? Reading not only raises your intellect, it's also very essential in molding your personality. In short, cultivating a reading habit may just be the best thing that happened to you if you want to be successful in life. In this article, we'll look at some of the important steps to making a reading habit a reality.
Step 1: Set some personal goals and do research
Before you begin the reading process, it is important to ask yourself questions like, or " How many books should I read before the end of the week/month/year?" or "What will I get from reading this book?".
Goals are important because they help you stay focused at the task at hand. Not only should they be realistic, they should also be time-bound. When setting your reading goals, first consider what topics you find interesting or the ones you'd like to explore.
Once you have this in mind, develop a list of books that are associated with that particular field, both old and new. Searching online or asking for recommendations from your local bookstore could prove to be very helpful.
With a list of books at hand, you should then create a monthly (most preferable) reading schedule. Remember to also take your reading speed into consideration when doing this so that you don't strain during the reading process. It's all about encouraging the habit, not forcing it.
Step 2: Acquire the books
After doing your research on what books to read, well, go and get them! There are very many sources of books, including and not limited to; the library (most obvious and easiest), charity shops, the local bookstore, friends who read, your professors or even online through sites like Amazon and Paperback Swap.
From the listed sources, you could choose to either buy or borrow. If you're looking to buy, don't spend excessively at once to get a set of books. Start small and get them on the cheap so that you don't get discouraged. Your passion will gradually grow and you'll be able to get any book you want easily.
Additionally, go for the funny compelling books first. These types make you want to read more, making them a very good source of motivation. With time, you'll graduate to the more complex material. Learn to keep it simple.
Step 3: Clear your mind and schedule
I cannot emphasize enough how important being relaxed is before starting a reading session. The brain is a very delicate organ; so trying to force it to do anything just ends up being counterproductive. Engage in relaxation exercises before reading to help improve your focus. Taking slow deep breaths, stretching and counting backwards from say, 50, could really help. When you reduce your stress levels, it becomes easier to read.
Needless to say, you should also handle all other priorities before starting to read. You don't want to think about pending errands when trying to enjoy a book. This also applies to your entertainment gadgets/television. Strive to get rid of all distractions before reading. If your reading is for academic purposes, don't forget to carry the necessary tools with you. Concentration is key to building a reading culture. When your concentration levels are high, the reading process becomes easier and more enjoyable.
Step 4: Always get a nice place to read
When you're not in the right environment, you chances of enjoying a good piece of literature are quite limited. So, what is the perfect location? A place that is quiet, comfortable and inspirational would fit the description. You could get this from a room in your house, the library or even at a local park. It all depends on what motivates you, so get to know yourself first before committing to a location.
If you're not quite sure of what suits you best, don't be afraid to try out different places. The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to read.
Step 5: Always carry a book/source material with you
Yes, you're trying to develop a habit; so carrying around source material is essential in helping you get there. Along with other important items such as your keys and wallet, always remember to take a book with you when leaving the house. You never know how often the opportunities to read may arise in a day, so be wise and keep your options open. For instance, if you are waiting in line at the doctor's office or the bank, reading would be a great and beneficial way to pass the time.
Another alternative to carrying a book would be getting an app on your device that gives you access to digital book formats. Though its not effective as carrying a book, it might just do the trick. Whatever makes you happy; just ensure to always have some reading material with you.
Step 6: Find a reading partner or group
Undoubtedly, cultivating a reading culture could prove to be a long difficult task at times. However, having someone/people around you who also like reading gives you the energy to go on.
Other than getting a reading partner, joining a book club could prove to be equally effective. This is because you get to discuss the books’ contents and share the message every person got from reading the book. You get to both understand the book better and also achieve your goals of finishing a book in a set period of time. So, do yourself a favor and get a partner in crime.
Step 7: Keep true to yourself
One reason why you may not have developed a reading culture yet is constantly succumbing to peer pressure.
If you constantly fear what others will think if they find you reading, you'll never be able to enjoy the gifts of literature. Stand out and stay strong! You know what you're looking to achieve so don't let anyone deter you from achieving your goals. Hanging around like-minded people is important since it enables you to share experiences and receive advice, which goes a long way in building your confidence. With confidence, you'll find developing a reading habit to be quite easy.
Additionally, it's good to get the opinion of others about different books. However, that doesn't mean you should always read what everyone else is reading. You'll end up being bored and unable to build a strong reading habit if you read content you don't find interesting. Diversifying is good, if you want to, but don't force yourself into reading something that doesn't appeal to you at all.
Step 8: Inspire your children (if you have any)
Developing a reading habit in children when they're young is really important to their growth. Some useful tips to doing this are;
- Reading in front of them regularly to spark their interest
- Making sure your house is always stocked with constructive reading material
- Reading together with your child. If they're very young, you could identify the pictures together.
- Visiting a library as often as possible.
- Only allowing TV or any other form of entertainment after reading
- For slightly older children, do some discussing on the book's concepts after they're done with reading
Helping your children become readers vastly grows their intellect and enables them to reach their full potential. If you don't believe me, take a look at Dr. Ben Carson's story and make your own judgment.
In conclusion, making reading a habit is very beneficial. Since the evidence speaks for itself, it's something that you should greatly consider to start, if you haven't already. You don't have to completely sacrifice all your other activities. Just strive make some time daily for reading and you'll gradually see all the positive changes it will make in your life.