As a kid, I was exposed to a strong reading culture. Although my parents were not well educated, they clearly understood the importance of reading and our house was full of books. I remember visiting friends’ houses and being amazed at how little books they had around!
The benefits of reading are enormous, and we could probably come up with hundreds, but for me, there are a few benefits that really stand out. Let's talk about the benefits and then I'll discuss how to fit reading into your busy, non-stop life.
I suppose most of us would agree that reading is a beneficial thing, but making time for reading can be a real challenge. Here are a few things I’ve found useful in trying to build this rewarding habit.
It’s a shame that our education systems so often turn kids off books, but if you’re enjoying reading, then you’re likely to keep doing it, so go and find a book you love!
Like so many other people, I spend a lot of time ‘reading’ on the Internet. The benefit of the Internet is that I have access to an enormous amount of information and can access it with an ease which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. But there is a downside, of course – there is so much information that I easily get distracted, and end up flicking from one site to another, never really reading anything in detail.
So the first bit of advice I would give for really getting into a serious reading habit is – switch off the computer! Pick up a real book, sit down and start to read.
I keep several books by my bedside and I usually read a chapter before I turn out the lights. This can be a really good way to end the day – it distracts you from any problems you might have had during the day so that your mind can settle down, and can make you feel sleepy.
Carry a light paperback around with you. When you find yourself waiting for something, on the train or bus, or just bored, you can get the book out. Reading will alleviate your boredom and can make your journey fly.
Yes, they’re still out there! Libraries have changed a lot in recent years and are now hubs of information. But the main activity of the library is still to provide books, and there is little more enjoyable than spending a couple of hours perusing the shelves, delving into the pages and choosing a few really good reads.
It’s important that reading is not a chore: it should be a real pleasure – something to look forward to! I remember, as a teacher in the UK, witnessing the endless initiatives to get kids to read. They almost never met with much success. And then, suddenly, everyone was reading – kids, adults, old people – sitting in cafes and on railway stations and airports, sitting on benches and walls and even on the floor – just reading. Why? Harry Potter had somehow managed to inspire a huge chunk of the population. People found that reading the Harry Potter books was enjoyable, and so they were busily turning page after page while the world went by.