I have always loved reading. But there is no doubt that within the past few years, my ability to focus when reading has dramatically declined. And I really started to miss it.
I blame my phone. After a busy day, it takes much less effort for my brain to scroll mindlessly through social media than it does to focus on a page in a book.
But the rewards of settling into a really good book, whether before bed or on a lazy Saturday are so worth the self-perceived “effort.”
Before we get into the 3 tools that will help you get into the habit of reading again, let’s quickly talk about some of the benefits of reading.
When you read, you engage your brain, and when you engage your brain, you’re activating your neurotransmitters and strengthening the connections they have with each other. This improves memory and cognitive functioning both in the short and long-term.
“Theory of mind” is the psychological concept of understanding that other people have feelings, beliefs, and experiences that may differ from yours.
When you delve into the inner experience of a character through a book, you’re engaging in the practice of “understanding someone’s story.” This can help you better understand yourself and others.
Sometimes when we are stressed, one of the most effective practices we can engage in is distracting ourselves from our anxious thoughts. Reading is one of the healthiest forms of distraction.
Remembering that reading is good for you (and also that it’s simply enjoyable) may help encourage you to do it more often.
But I have also found that if you want to form a new habit, making that habit easier and more accessible is key. Because when something is easy, we are much more likely to engage in it.
Below are the 3 tools in what I am lovingly dubbing “The Reading Trifecta.” They all work together to make reading more convenient, more accessible, and something you actually want to do.
Have you ever had someone recommend a book, so you open up your notes on your phone to jot it down, but then forget about it completely?
This is where The Goodreads App comes into play. If you don’t have it on your phone yet, I highly recommend you download it!
Goodreads is so wonderful because it keeps a list of all the books you want to read in one place. So now, whenever someone recommends a book to me, I quickly add it to my Goodreads “to read” list.
And, the app can help you set a reading goal for 2022 and keep track of the books you “have read.”
One of my favorite parts about the app is you can connect with other friends who are on it, see what books they are reading, and also see how they’ve rated those books.
And! You can also scroll to see what books people are recommending and add them to your “to read” list with a click of a button.
So yea, technically Goodreads is a form of social media, but it is by far my favorite platform.
So, once you have this nice and tidy list of books all in one place, how are you going to read them? At $20 a pop, reading can start to become an expensive habit…
you get your books for free.
Which brings me to my absolute favorite tool in the Reading Trifecta, and one of the best kept secrets of NYC, The Public Library.
The Manhattan Public Library (Or Your Local Public Library)
I LOVE THE LIBRARY!!! I LOVE THE LIBRARY!!!! (This is me shouting virtually from the rooftops about how much I freakin’ love the public library).
When I got my library card a few years ago, it changed my life. Because having access to books gives you access to education. And having access to education WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
I think it took me about 10 minutes to go in to my local branch and sign up. And I think the card itself cost $1. But I have easily read hundreds of dollars worth of books by getting them from the library.
And, you rarely ever have to step foot in it!
All you have to do is go online, search for books that you want to read and add them to your cart. That’s it.
If you decided to check out a hard copy of a book, you have to go pick it up. However, if you happen to have a Kindle or some other kind of reading device, you can download the books in an instant. FOR FREE.
And, one of the best parts about getting an eBook from The Manhattan Public Library, is it’s automatically returned on its due date. So there are no late fees!
The only downside of the library is that sometimes there is a waitlist for the book you want to read. But usually there are several copies of each book, and the wait is never as long as it seems.
And, as soon as your book does become available, the library will email you. IT’S ALMOST TOO EASY!
When I get a notification that my book is ready to be picked up or downloaded, I experience a jolt of pure unadulterated joy in my heart.
(Pro tip: if you read ebooks, and the due date comes but you aren’t finished with your book yet, you can put your kindle on airplane mode and the book will stay in your kindle library. Woohoo!)
(Pro tip for New Yorkers: Brooklyn and Queens have their own separate library systems. Which means, if you live in either of those boroughs you can get both a Manhattan library card AND a card for your borough. So if one of the libraries has a long waitlist for a book, check the other!)
Okay, I think I’ve spent enough time fangirling about the Library. Just go to your local branch, get a card, and enjoy. Trust me.
If I’m being perfectly honest, I love myself a good, old-fashioned, real life hard copy of a book.
I love the smell of the freshly printed words, or the dusty scent of a worn out, used book. I love the way the paper feels as I flip through the pages. And although I try my best not to judge a book by it’s cover, I must admit that I do like to look at the cover every once in a while.
However, I have also grown to really appreciate my Kindle. I got it years ago after joining the library, because I saw how much easier it was to download an eBook on the spot.
I think my Kindle is a 7th generation, so it’s old. But it still works totally fine, and it has been instrumental in getting me to read more. Because having a Kindle makes reading so much more convenient.
It holds several books at once, so when traveling, I don’t have to lug around a bunch of books.
Plus, I end up saving a bunch of money on books because I download them for free from the library. (Let’s take a moment to relish in the magic of the library once again. Ahhhh.)
And, let’s not forget that less paper is being wasted when a book can be downloaded over and over again. And, if I ever want to upgrade, I can send in my used Kindle for a discount.
So, even though I love to read a live-in-the-flesh book, and still do occasion, the convenience of having a Kindle is so worth it to me.
And this completes The Reading Trifecta.
I hope that the powers of these tools combined will help you find your reading mojo. And that soon, you will be reading your heart out once again!
Before I conclude, I must bring up one of the ultimate tools for someone who wants to get back into reading, which is —
a really good book.
What are some of the best books you’ve read? Any that helped you get back into reading? If so, please share!