Did you know that reading has actual scientific benefits? It’s true! And there are a lot of them. Initially, reading might just seem like a productive way to pass time, but more and more research is pointing to the mental, emotional, and relational benefits. Perhaps this is why I’m seeing so many people working to make reading more of a habit this year. But wanting to read more and knowing how to read more are two different things.
So whether you’re looking to up your page turning time for fun, education, or brain boosting benefits, here are five simple ways to read more.
1. Start with something light and fun. Starting a habit can be tough. Starting a habit after you’ve fallen off the wagon? That can be even tougher. So make it easier on yourself, and start with something light. I love almost anything Liane Moriarty, or Gone Girl esque. If you’re series reader (Hello Harry Potter fans!), reread one or two. It may not be deep or thought provoking, but it will get your juices flowing, making the habit less daunting.
2. Have it handy. It’s pretty hard to read more when you don’t have your book with you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stuck at the doctor or waiting at the mechanic, only to wish I’d brought a book. For this reason, I started reading books on my phone, because I’m almost always guaranteed to have my phone with me. If you’re not a digital book reader, no worries. Get in the habit of throwing your book in your purse or in the car before you leave the house. You can’t read what you don’t have with you!
3. Reach for a book first. Choose to read for at least 15 minutes before you opt for social media or electronics. You don’t have to read instead of Facebook or TV, just before. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself, “I’ll read after this Netflix episode,” only to end up watching a second episode or being too tired to read. By reading first, you challenge this pattern, following a plan and not a feeling. This tip is really hard for me, but it makes a huge difference.
4. Enlist some accountability. Join a book club, a group at your local library, or have a friend that you can talk books with. Just about every piece of research on successfully reaching goals points of the value of accountability, and reading more is no different. For example, I have a friend who is a voracious reader, and we often trade book recommendations back and forth. Knowing she’s going to ask me what I’m reading and loving helps me stay on track, since I don’t want to come up empty handed for her.
5. Look for small pockets of unused time. You might think you don’t have time to read more, but I bet you have a few more moments than you think. Look for pockets of time just ten minutes or more. Maybe at the start of your lunch break, waiting for your daughter in the school pickup line, or waiting before your weekly therapy appointment. I’ve recently traded in my morning coffee + social media routine for coffee and a book instead. While the change wasn’t super fun at first, I’ve grown to really appreciate that small chunk of time.
Learning how to read more isn’t really rocket science. It just takes some extra planning and commitment. Like any habit, we may not always feel like it, but if we engage in a small action step, the motivation usually follows. And with the benefits of reading being so awesome, what’s there to lose?
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog! I’m a clinical psychology graduate student, and I find it inspiring to see a psychologist translating research findings into a form that’s so accessible. All of your posts are so thoughtful and useful. It seems like there are lots of blogs about medical research findings, but I wish there were more blogs by psychologists like you! Best, Katherine
Oh my goodness, Katherine; you just completely made my day! THANK YOU! I think it’s so important that we get outside of the therapy room to share our work and knowledge on a larger scale, and you’re right, there aren’t a lot of psychologists doing that. Sometimes it feels like uncharted territory (aka a little scary), but then I remember that most good, bold, and brave things are. Thanks again for reading, commenting, and boosting my mood today! Best of luck as you continue your training! PS: It does eventually end lol. I thought I’d never actually be DONE. You’ve got this!