A Reading Habit
by Jillian Ocken
“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” - W. Somerset Maugham
January is a time for starting fresh, setting goals, and building good habits. While many of us focus on starting a healthier lifestyle for our bodies, there’s a lot to be said for exercising your mind regularly!
As a child I was always reading. As an adult, not so much. Until now. Enter the Winter Reading Challenge. Okay, so it started a few weeks ago, but there’s over a month left! Just enough time to complete the goal: read for 30 days by February 15. Not read for a certain number of hours. Not read some specific quantity of books or pages. Just read a bit on each day. Easy, right?
That’s exactly the point. The challenge isn’t to dedicate all your time and energy to reading. It’s to build a sustainable habit of reading. It’s to find ways to fit reading into your daily routine.
It turns out, I already kind of do that! Every night, I read to my children as part of their bedtime routine. Sometimes it’s just a picture book. Sometimes it’s a half an hour of a graphic novel or chapter book. Even though my children are both avid readers on their own now, they love snuggling in and letting me do the reading. And I have really enjoyed some of their books. I couldn’t put down “Measuring Up” by Lily LaMotte and can’t wait for her next book!
So I do read every day, but that doesn’t satisfy my personal goal. I want to read for myself too. There are a few strategies I’ll be trying out to see what works for me.
Audiobooks are one way to fit in reading without using any “extra” time out of my day. I can listen to an audiobook in the car, or while I’m cooking, cleaning, knitting, exercising, or even falling asleep.
Which brings me to another strategy—reading at bedtime. I have a habit of scrolling on my phone after I lie down. Can I replace that with reading for 20 minutes to wind down? It’s worth a try! Will it help me fall asleep faster? I suspect so, unless I get caught up in a book that’s just too good.
Another option—that may require significant self-control—is to trade in social media for reading. Instead of sitting at my computer and opening Facebook, can I redirect myself to a comfy chair and a book?
Some of these strategies may rely on having the right reading material. I’m probably not going to choose “War and Peace” over cat videos, but what about something a little more digestible? I could read Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” before I attempt the Library’s Willy Wonka themed escape room. Books written for kids and teens tend to be quick and easy reads, but they can be just as interesting as books specifically for adults.
Sometimes TV and movies provide strong motivation to read the source material. After all, I’ve watched three different versions of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” now; reading at least the first book seems long overdue. (Unfortunately, I’m not the only person who came up with this brilliant plan, and all of the Library’s copies are checked out. I’d better plan ahead next time!)
If you need some help finding a book that will keep your attention, or something that you can pick back up after falling asleep mid-chapter, or an audiobook that will take your mind off of jogging, your local librarians can help you out! Stop by and ask, or fill out a Personalized Picks form for ideas to help you reach your reading goals.