From busy jobs to hectic social lives and demanding families, more and more of us are sacrificing one of life’s greatest pleasures: sitting back with a good book and getting well and truly lost in it. Surely this is worth making space in your life for? Re-examine the way you’re spending your time. And be honest. If you have time to update Facebook, browse Twitter, or watch Game of Thrones, you have time to read. Here are some suggestions to help you get back into books…
Be realistic about fiction
If you’ve fallen out of the habit of reading for pleasure, you’re not going to get back into it by embarking on War & Peace. Reading is not a passive activity; it requires concentration and effort. Start off slowly. Read something that you really want to read, and get back into the habit.
You never know when a reading opportunity might appear. Perhaps your friend is 15 minutes late, or you’ve arrived early for an appointment. Always have a book in your bag – that way you can whip it out at a moment’s notice.
Use your commute
Many of us commute each day – by train or tube or bus – usually crammed into a small space with strangers, wishing we could be somewhere else. So be somewhere else. You may have to do it with the book pressed up against your nose, or wedged in somebody’s armpit, but your commute (unless you walk or drive to work) is valuable reading time. Use it.
Literary lunch break
Not taking the hour-long lunch break that you should? We’re used to grabbing a quick bite at our desks, and there are days when this is a depressing necessity – but examine your lunch-at-the-desk habit a little more closely. Are you sure you don’t take ten minutes, whilst eating your sandwich, to peek at Facebook or browse the news? Pick up your book and read a quick chapter instead.
You know that ten minutes before you turn out the light, which you spend sending last-minute emails and making a panic attack-inducing to do list that’s longer than your own arm? Spend it reading. You’re in your pyjamas, you’re under the duvet. The day is over. The only productive thing you can do right now is relax.
Set a target
Resolutions are easier to stick to when you have a definite goal. Rather than say ‘I want to read more this year’, say ‘I want to read x number of books this year’. Start a Good Reads account to track your progress, share the books you’re reading, and get recommendations from friends.
A room of one’s own
Virginia Woolf said that, for a woman to write, ‘she must have money and a room of her own’. You need that room for reading, too. However, time and space are the two things modern women lack most. We live in small spaces surrounded by housemates, partners or family. Even if you do have a room of your own, thin walls and the sounds of the world around you may still interfere. Create the illusion of a private space, instead. Shut the door, shut off your phone, and shut out the world. Try using Rainy Mood; it plays the sound of rain on a loop – the perfect white noise. Played through headphones, it blocks out background sounds without distracting you from what you’re reading – and it’s soothing, too.
Give up the guilt
If you are struggling to allow yourself the time to read, stop feeling guilty. You deserve to take some time for yourself in order to explore your imagination and escape a little. We spend all day, every day, plugged in. Switch off the world, your phone, and the internet, and switch on the reading lamp instead.