By Heather Duff
If you don’t like to read, or if you want to enjoy reading more, we’ll look at a few suggestions to get you started.
One goal of your library’s summer reading program is to encourage everyone to read more. There are numerous benefits to reading, and maybe that’s a great subject for a future blog post. But today I don’t want to list benefits. Today I want to build a bridge.
Wherever you are, whoever you are, reading can make a positive difference in your life. If you don’t enjoy reading, let’s see if we can build a bridge that will take you from non-reader to reader. And if you do read but you’d like to read more, these tips may help you too.
1. Read however you need to.
I’m a slow reader. Always have been. My sister would finish a book and I’d still be on the intro. (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying, right?) I used to feel bad about this and it kept me from reading because it would take me too long to finish a book.
Too long to finish?
Was there a deadline? Was I in a race?
Ugh. That was a pressure I put on myself. So, I decided to stop measuring my reading speed and to start savoring instead.
It’s okay to read a sentence three times. Some sentences are worth it.
It’s okay to put the book down for a minute and think about what you just read. Some of us prefer to read this way.
Do you read slow too? Good! Slow down and savor the words. Writers will love you for that. Words are labored over, birthed with travail. They are written, scratched, and rewritten. They are chosen and mulled over. A lot of work goes into the writing of words. Take your time with them. Read them and reread them.
Linger on sentences. Stay with them until they stay with you.
There’s no right or wrong way about it. Read fast or slow or medium speed. Read at the speed that nourishes your soul.
Read how you need to, however works for you. Just read.
2. Read what you enjoy.
This needs to be said: If you don’t like what you’re reading, stop reading it.
Close the book.
Don’t finish it.
The world will not end.
Some of us may need to repeat this to ourselves a few times. It’s hard to not finish what we start. But what we’ve started isn’t really a book. We’ve started a lifelong journey of reading. Putting down one book (or ten) is not quitting. It’s the next step toward finding the books you love.
When you stop reading what you don’t enjoy a few things will happen.
- You will read more because reading is now thoroughly enjoyable.
- You will be a better reader because you are reading more.
- You will have a better understanding of yourself because you’ll find your way to the books that matter to YOU. Determine to find those books. They’re out there, unread, waiting for you.
If you’re stuck in the middle of a book, struggling to finish, give yourself permission to move on to a book you’ll enjoy. You can always come back to the book later…if you want to.
Limiting yourself to enjoyable reads doesn’t necessarily mean easy reads. We can and should read books that challenge us. We can enjoy difficult books because they help us grow. The key, I think, is focusing on the journey. If the book helps you along, stay with it. If it becomes a roadblock to your progress, set it aside. At least for now.
Use your library to find enjoyable reads. That’s one reason your library exists…to offer you a free ticket to finding the books you love. When you pay $10 or $15 or $20 for a book, not finishing can feel like a waste of money. But there’s no need to spend money on books you won’t enjoy. Borrow books from your library instead. Try new things – new subjects, new authors, new genres. If we don’t have what you’re looking for, request it here, or through our online catalog. (Or you can always call the library. We’re here to help!)
You can still buy books if you want to, but by using the library to discover what you enjoy reading, you’ll have a better shot at buying books you know you’ll like.
(One disclaimer: If you’ve been assigned to read a book you don’t like for school or work–sorry, you’ll probably have to read that one. But you can learn from it. There will be a lesson in there somewhere, and that lesson will help you enjoy reading for yourself even more. Which leads me to the next point…)
3. Read for YOU.
I’m busy. And when I finally get a moment to myself, reading can seem like one more thing on my list of things to do. Reading is just another box to tick, right? I buy books that sit on a shelf, unread. I borrow books from the library with good intentions but return them unfinished.
If time is an issue, remember the goal isn’t to read lots. The goal is to read more. And more can mean even 15 minutes a day. These 15 minutes can be what YOU need them to be:
- An escape
- A comfort
- An education
- Personal or professional enrichment
- Or a simple pleasure.
We’re all different, and we read for different reasons. And that’s okay. (Just find your reason!)
Reading isn’t a waste of time, it’s an investment in yourself. What do you need in your life? What might add to your happiness or well-being? Block out some time for yourself.
Add the benefits of reading to your day, even when you’re busy. Don’t be pressured by thinking you have to read. Make reading a reward for yourself. Take the time for YOU.
What do you think? Would these tips help you enjoy reading more?
Do you have any other suggestions for our library community? Any tips on how to enjoy reading more? Let us know in the comments!