“How can she read so much?”
“Reading is so boring!”
“I wish I liked reading…”
“I could never read that much!”
If you’re reading this article, I’m sure many of these thoughts have crossed your mind more than once. As someone who’s always read a lot since I was little, I’ve always heard people say this. I’ve loved reading since I was 6, to the point where I constantly pulled all-nighters to finish books or spent days on end reading them because they were just that good. Just ask my parents; they will happily rant to you about how I spent most of my childhood reading instead of playing with my friends, or doing anything else, really. After years of getting home from parties at dusk and reading in bed until I fell asleep with the lights on and the book still in my hands, I can confidently say that reading a good book is one of the best things in life. I’m sure at least half of the people reading this would disagree; therefore, I’ve decided to help those of you who don’t yet enjoy reading, in the hopes that you can understand just how fascinating and enthralling books can be.
Though developing the habit of reading was never a problem for me, it has recently become one, with the constant amount of schoolwork, tests, and extracurricular activities that take up most of my time and drain my energy. Fortunately, however, I can share the best tips for getting used to reading more frequently (which I will also be using). But first, you might be wondering if there are any benefits to reading more often.
There is a multitude of reasons why reading should be an integral part of one’s day, and a few of them are:
Improving literacy skills
If you feel as though you read very slowly, that is probably because you don’t read very often. The best way to increase your reading speed while maintaining your comprehension of the books you read is to practice. Additionally, if you read books you like and that aren’t too challenging, you will naturally read faster because you will be having fun instead of considering reading to be a chore or an obligation. However, don’t compare yourself to others or worry too much about your reading speed - no one will judge you based on how long you take to read a book. Reading is about personal enjoyment, so if reading at a faster pace is stressful or unpleasant for you, don’t do so. In regard to writing skills, reading helps you develop a better understanding of grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure. It also helps you improve your critical thinking and analytical skills and teaches you how to structure stories, build suspense, and better express your thoughts.
Easier and more enjoyable classes
All of the skills mentioned above are very useful and important in a few classes, especially English, where knowing how to analyze books is very important. If you feel as though you aren’t very good at writing and analyzing literature, reading will help you develop these skills over time. As you start reading more and more frequently, it will become less of a challenge and you will notice that writing essays and even your reading comprehension will improve. If you choose books that interest you, you’ll be able to have fun while simultaneously developing skills that will help you in class. The easier these skills become, the easier and more enjoyable English class will be, and you’ll find that you look forward to, or at least won’t be as disinclined to write essays or read the chapters assigned to you for the next class.
Building your vocabulary
When you develop the habit of reading, you enhance your vocabulary and learn when to use certain words that can help you embellish and enrich your writing. Having more command over the language is incredibly helpful in academic life, regardless of which classes you take, because it is useful for any tasks involving writing. Furthermore, if you know how to express yourself well in writing, you will likely get better grades in tasks involving writing. Improved word choice and knowing in what context to use them, as well as improved sentence structure, are some of the best tools for developing a more formal writing style and ensuring your essays are well-written.
Do you like to destress by watching movies or series you like? Well, reading will help just as much as the shows you binge-watch or stay up late for. Plus, you can imagine characters the way you want them to look and live vicariously through them because you’ll be experiencing their thoughts and life through their eyes. I find that it’s one of the best ways to completely forget about any negativity in your life and fully get rid of any nervous tension or anxious thoughts for a while. Eventually, you may even happen to come across valuable advice or solutions to your problems while reading.
Improving your memory
Reading regularly is good exercise for the brain. Reading fictional books, for example, forces your brain to remember the names and nature of various characters, as well as the plot of the book and the universe in which it takes place. All of this information creates new memories, which consequently helps strengthen old ones, and learn how to store your knowledge and recall memories more effectively.
Improving focus and concentration
In a generation where we have unlimited access to technology, our attention spans are diminishing more and more over time. I’ve heard many people say that after downloading TikTok, they found themselves struggling to watch movies because they require a lot of attention, while TikToks are very short. Reading can help you develop the ability to focus and concentrate, even if you can only keep yourself focused for 20 to 30 minutes. Over time, you will be able to concentrate for longer periods of time with ease, which can also help with schoolwork, as you won’t be as distracted while working and will probably get any pending tasks done in less time.
Now that you know about the extensive benefits of picking up a book, here are the best ways to build up the habit of reading.
Set realistic goals
Most of the time there are additional obstacles other than unwillingness preventing people from reading, such as busy schedules or draining activities throughout the day. That’s why it’s important to set realistic goals rather than trying to read a 600-page book when you’re not used to reading. Try setting a goal of reading for 20-30 minutes a day, or even an hour if you think you can do it. That way, you’ll start getting used to the idea of reading for long periods of time. If you prefer measuring the amount of reading you do through how many pages you read, try for 50-100 pages a day, or less if you find that very daunting. Whatever works for you. Most importantly, remember to start with shorter and simpler books if you’re just starting to read, and when you’re ready, slowly build up the length of time and of the books you read.
Set time aside for reading
This was already mentioned; however, it is very important. If you have a busy schedule or you find it hard to get into the habit of reading, set aside time to read. For example, plan to read for 30 minutes every day at 5 PM. That way, you will still be able to get all your work done and find time in your day to start developing a new habit. Just make sure that you use this time wisely and actually focus.
Keep your phone away from you while reading
In order to truly benefit from reading, it is essential to remove any outside distractions. That way, you can direct all your energy to the task at hand. This means staying away from technology, including your phone. Turn on airplane mode, turn on do not disturb, or turn off your phone - whatever you prefer, as long as it ensures that you will actually concentrate on reading. Over time, you may find that you don’t need to keep your phone away from you to focus, and that’s a good way to tell whether you’re enjoying a book. Other than technology, noise is also a factor that may affect your concentration, so try to find a quiet and comfortable space to read in. If you prefer, headphones are a good alternative to keep you focused.
Find a good playlist to get yourself in the right mindset
If you focus better with music playing in the background, find instrumental songs to listen to while you read. A helpful option is to listen to study music, as it can be equally helpful when it comes to reading books. If you’re reading a fantasy book, find the soundtracks of your favorite series or movies to add to the experience. Make playlists of classical music, or whatever you like, to get you inspired and motivated to start reading.
Pro tip: if you use Spotify, make sure you turn on Private Session to listen to these songs so that they don’t show up on your Spotify wrapped at the end of the year - trust me, it can happen and it’s very annoying.
Find a reading format that works for you
My final tip is to choose which reading format you like the most. While most people enjoy reading physical books, this may not be the case for you. That’s why it’s important to try reading online or in different formats. These can include (but are not limited to);
Reading on your phone or computer
Once you find your favorite method of reading, you’ll find it to be a much more pleasurable experience. Additionally, you don’t need to use the same one constantly; I usually vary between reading physical books and reading on my Kindle. Below, you will find the pros and cons of different options for online reading:
A good alternative if you don’t have space for lots of books
Buying books more easily (more variety of English books than bookstores in Brazil
Long battery life
Not having the physical copies of the books you buy
Needs to be charged (battery can end while you are reading)
Many websites where you can find books for free
A wide assortment of books to choose from
Not having physical copies of the books you read
Reading on a device may result in difficulty to focus
Websites with free books are usually illegal
You will not be financially supporting the author, who depends on the income they receive from their books
Finally, for the best part of this article, a few book recommendations for you to fall in love with reading. These are some of my favorite books, and they include mystery, romance, and fantasy.
Truly Devious (Mystery)
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”
Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.
True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.
Shadow and Bone (Fantasy)
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
The Song of Achilles (Romance)
Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods' wrath.
They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.
And Then There Were None (Mystery)
First, there were ten—a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a little private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they're unwilling to reveal—and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. A famous nursery rhyme is framed and hung in every room of the mansion.
When they realize that murders are occurring as described in the rhyme, terror mounts. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. Who has choreographed this dastardly scheme? And who will be left to tell the tale? Only the dead are above suspicion.
This may be more challenging, but it’s one of the best mystery books I’ve ever read, and I’m sure it will be enjoyable for anyone who chooses to read it.
Finally, if you want to start off with something more simple:
The Percy Jackson series (Fantasy)
Though these books are for children, they are just as entertaining for teenagers and adults alike; I’ve reread them countless times over the years, and they never fail to amaze me. If you feel as though they might be too childish or embarrassing to read at your age, don’t let that discourage you. I’m sure many people can agree that this is one of the best series to get you into reading, and despite the simple writing style, the intricate plotlines will keep you interested. Besides, most Percy Jackson fans will be happy to see someone reading this series, regardless of your age, because it’s very exciting to see that someone enjoys these books just as much as we do.