In my experience, there are a number of things which stop people from reading as much as they’d like to. “Yes, Zewlan,” they say. “I know I should read more. But where will I find the time?”
And of course it’s easy to answer – well, if it’s really important to you, you’ll be able to make time to include books in your life.
I know! Nothing is ever really that easy. So today I want to talk about changing your mindset when it comes to reading. Did you think I was going to talk about time management? Well, yes, that’s definitely part of it. But I tend to think of time management – not having time to read – as a symptom rather than a cause.
Over the years I’ve noticed that there are some underlying reasons that stop people from reading as much as they’d like – and actually they don’t come down to time management at all.
I think of these as ‘mind hurdles’ and you can definitely overcome them. If you can work on eliminating these, you will (almost) magically find more time to read.
Reading in short bursts
Having said all that, the first mind hurdle is, well, time. When we think of reading, we think of curling up in a comfy chair with a nice hot cup of tea and whiling away several hours deep in Middle Earth (or wherever).
Of course, not very many people have that luxury! Yes, on the odd Sunday or long weekend you can do that. And who doesn’t love packing a few hefty tomes for that beach holiday?
The reality is, you might need to adjust your idea of reading – and learn to enjoy it in short bursts. Yes, you can really get through a novel a week just by reading for half an hour a day.
For some people, this won’t be easy. You may need to actually practice. But if you can find an odd 30 minutes here or there, you can immerse yourself in a new world – and maybe even come out the other side more invigorated for the ‘real’ one.
Make reading a joy
The next mind hurdle is effort. Your idea of relaxing might be watching a movie, or playing a game, or going for a pedicure. You might think of reading, on the other hand, as work, in the same basket as vacuuming, going to the bank, or cleaning the loo. This is very unfair to reading!
I think this must be related to schooling. Being assigned a text makes it a chore. And often we become convinced that we should be reading – so then it becomes an obligation. Chores, obligation, should, must, have to, ought to… These are not words related to relaxing or enjoyment.
I’ll have more posts in the future about how you can overcome this feeling. For now, I’ll just say that reading the right book at the right time can be a joy. Finding pleasure in reading is definitely something you can cultivate.
Again, it will take some practice. At first, you may even have to force yourself to read – on the train home, for example. But stick with it; a time will come when your heart changes, your soul shifts, and you will find that childhood joy again.
Don’t feel inferior
This last is probably one of the most awful and crushing reasons people don’t read; the fear of feeling stupid.
Do you want to read Young Adult fiction but feel embarrassed? Don’t be! Read it, love it, be proud of it!
Do you enjoy torrid romances, erotica, bodice rippers – but you worry it’s not ‘real’ reading. Nonsense!
Some people feel that they will be judged by what they want to read. And yes, unfortunately, that’s true. There will always be some idiot out there ready to rain on your reading parade.
I know it’s not easy, but turn off the negative voices. Most people don’t know what you are reading; and if they do, they don’t have an opinion on it. Ignore the noisy naysayers, and get on with what you love.
If you find pleasure in a book – whether it’s Charles Dickens or Dan Brown, Virginia Woolf or Stephanie Meyer – then that’s all that matters. Did it change you in some way? Did you, for even a moment, lose yourself somewhere exotic? In someone else’s story? You are not inferior to anybody. You are a reader.
In the coming weeks, I’ll have a few more posts about tips and strategies to overcome these mind hurdles, as well as some practical advice on carving out time to read and setting priorities.
What about you? Did any of these mind hurdles resonate with you? What other obstacles have you encountered in your reading?