“So what’s the last book you’ve read?”
I’ve been asking my friends this question and the answers have been disappointing so far. Many of them can’t even remember because it’s been soooo long. And this seems to be a rising problem. Among all the excuses that are given, you can hear the last sighs of those dying neurons as that viral dog video gets replayed and replayed and replayed…
So I’m writing this for all the non-leisure-readers out there; I know most of us do read during the day. We actually read a lot; 140-character tweets, facebook statuses, youtube comments…But we need a change of reading materials.
The time has come for us to renew those library cards or join a book club or simply pick up a book instead of a magazine at the airport store. It’s time to walk into an old library, breathe in the musty air, savor the silence, pick up books with enough dust to tickle our nose and make us sneeze as we crack them open. It’s time to lower our voices and raise our minds.
Why is reading so important, you might ask? After all, you’ve done enough reading to last you a lifetime while you were at school. Well, here’s where you’ve got it wrong. You haven’t done enough reading to last you a lifetime. What you’ve read in school is not only a drop from the ocean of knowledge available out there, but it’s also a drop that’s neither representative nor fun.
Reading opens up your mind to new ideas. It introduces you to ghosts in the sense that you get to read the thoughts of people who have died a long time ago. It’s a time-traveling machine that teaches you of how life used to be back in the days. Some of the ideas you meet among those pages can improve your character, your careers or simply your entire life. And it’s a process that activates those brain cells you’ve been smothering with youtube videos.
While reading tweets and articles shared on facebook isn’t always bad; it’s just too random. Instead of proactively selecting what information you’re going to feed your mind, you’re giving that power to someone else and if they want to stuff it with ten reasons a shawarma is better than a burger, then they’ll do just that.
So be proactive in your reading material, and go for books that will make you smarter, and help you improve your life. Here are some ways to cultivate a reading habit:
- Download books into the kindle app on your smartphone. Since you’re always reading on your smartphone as you wait in line or at the traffic lights, this will help you read books in tiny chunks.
- Subscribe to Audible.com. You can listen to audio versions of the book while you’re doing something else like working out at the gym or doing house chores.
- Stop reading when a book is hopeless. Sometimes being in the middle of a book that is difficult to read or is irrelevant might stop us from moving on to a better book. Because many of us are wired to hate the idea of ‘quitting’, we would rather trudge along than quit and by trudging along, I mean looking at the book on the bedside table from afar every day hoping the information will transfer to our brains through osmosis. In that case, just call it quits and move on to the next book instead of staying in a state of limbo for a long time.
- Read actively. Annotate, summarize and write out your favorite quotes. Interacting with text in this way makes you more likely to remember it. Draw mind maps concerning ideas from different books. Exercise your cognitive skills through pleasure reading for some of those neurons might definitely need CPR.
- Read at the same time every day. Whether it’s the first — or last — thing you do every day, once you’ve developed the habit of reading, it’ll be hard to stop. Think of all those fathers who read the newspaper at the breakfast table every day (or every Sunday) and you’ll get the picture.
- Get a reading partner or join a book club. Use social pressure to your advantage. With a reading partner or a book club, you’d have a deadline and a good conversation to look forward to. Don’t be one of those book club members who just show up for the food…
- Cheat. If you really, really don’t have time to read, then read articles and listen to podcasts that discuss books. Whether it’s NPR books or the Read to Lead podcast, at least it’ll help you become a more interesting conversationalist during parties.
But try to make cheating your very last resort because it’s a short cut that wouldn’t benefit you as much as the real thing. And remember,
If you don’t have time to read, then make the time to read…your brain cells are counting on it.. Tweet this
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