Why I am starting to read again (and how you can too)

When I was about six or seven I noticed all the kids in my school, especially the cool kids, were all obsessed with the Goosebumps series. Naturally, that weekend I had my parents buy me a few of the books from the series. They were shocked and extremely encouraging. My fascination with books grew from there. Whenever I think about my obsession with reading my mind instantly brings up two instances. The first is when I lied to my teachers about not having my gym clothes so I could stay back and finish a book I was reading and the second was when I was in high school and skipped class just to read a book I had ordered. (This was during the beginning of the Amazon days and the book I had ordered wasn’t available in any bookstore in my city.)

After high school my reading started to decline. The days of staying up late finishing a book were long gone. I didn’t stop reading though. I actually started reading more. The only thing was that I was reading more news articles than books. I was reading to keep up with news (mostly tech news) than for meaning. Oddly enough, I didn’t stop buying books though. I just never read them. Or I’d start to read them and stop halfway through.

Last week I made myself a promise to start reading again. I purchased a bunch of books through iBooks and told myself I was going to force myself to finish at least one book every two weeks. I needed to start over again though. I wanted to first learn to read faster, remember what I read, and understand the symbolism in books. I came on here for advise and picked up How to Read Literature Like a Professor. (This book is terrific and I’ve managed to make sense of a lot of movies I’ve watched recently. If you haven’t read this book yet, please do yourself a favour and purchase it.)

Here is what I’ve learned from this past week:

  • Don’t focus on speed reading. A book is different from a new story. Speed reading helps me when I’m reading news articles, but when I’m reading a book I want to savour it and understand what the author is trying to say. I can’t do that if I’m speed reading.
  • It’s hard nowadays to focus on reading. Nicholas Carr’s Is Google Making Us Stupid is a good essay which touches on this. Here is what I’ve done to help me focus. I read on my iPad and turn on DND. I do the same with my iPhone. I go somewhere quiet and get myself ready. The same way I dim the lights and relax before watching a movie. To help me remember what I’ve read I stop after each chapter and really think about what I read. Sure, I take more time finishing a book this way, but it’s well worth it.
  • I started with books that I’ve always wanted to read.
  • I set a specific time for myself to get my reading done. When I wake up I get started on all my school work/readings. For some reason this just works for me. I then get on with the rest of my life and at night I dedicate at least an hour to reading. Getting into this routine has helped me.

We all live in a connected world and we’re all busy with life and errands and our minds are more preoccupied than ever. Reading is a way to escape, even if it’s just for an hour, our lives. To find a correlation between the characters and settings we read about. To find meaning in our journey, just like in Ulysses. (Sorry, I had to.)

Now forgive my poor writing and grammar. I’ve already purchased a few books to help me with both.