The world seems to be made of two types of people: readers and non-readers. Most of you visiting this blog are readers. But even avid readers who have towering stacks of TBR books (or long lists on e-readers), even you can hit a low spot where reading seems like a chore. If you’re there, use these ten tips to get your reading mojo back.
1. Make it a Habit
To make it a habit, schedule a time for reading. Schedule thirty minutes every day. Too busy? Read twice a week. Or take your book (physical or electronic) with you. Use the pockets of waiting time in your day. Read for ten minutes while waiting for an appointment or transportation or your morning latte.
2. Make it Pleasurable
Remember, you’re not doing this for a grade or work. Choose a location that is comfortable, has few distractions, and is suitable for reading. Do you like low classical or jazz music playing? Find a reading area or room that allows you to escape into the book you are reading.
3. Decide Why You’re Reading.
Because the book club is reading it.
If you’re reading only because the book club is reading it, does the pleasure of the book club interaction counter act the discomfort of reading the book? If yes-great! Keep reading. If not, don’t read the book. A book club isn’t a good fit for some people. If you are one of those people—no worries. Do a little self check. What would you like to read? Why do you read that type of book?
Are you reading to check reality?
What do I mean “to check reality?” The books that check reality are nonfiction or fiction, but the story or subject reveals uncomfortable truths about the world and our place in the world. Books like Night by Elie Wiesel, the novella Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, The Flowers of Hiroshima by Edith Morris, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. What books have you read that check your reality?
Reading to escape reality?
No judgment here. We all need to escape once in a while.
What kind of escape do you want? Some will want something that makes them laugh. Others want a warm and fuzzy feeling from their reads? Romantic? Thrilling? Scary? Sometimes you might need light and romantic and other times you might need dark, gritty, and thrilling. No matter what you prefer, there is a book out there that will take you on the journey of your choice.
To learn a specific skill or specific information?
“For pleasure?” you ask. Sure. Learning doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Maybe you want to learn a new language. Do you want to learn to cook an exotic dish? Maybe you want to learn to build a robot. It’s okay. Reading to learn can be pleasurable. Enjoy.
Reading to expand your mind or worldview.
Reading to expand your mind or worldview differs from a reality check, though they can go hand in hand. These are the books you read about different cultures or religions. It can also be books that make you see your own life from a different perspective.
4. Choose the book
If you read or write in your day job, it may be difficult to read for pleasure. Try reading outside your professional sphere. If you write science fiction, read contemporary romance or poetry. If you proofread science journals in your day job, try reading graphic novels or historical fiction. You get the idea.
If you feel you’ve read all the books in your preferred genre, try a different genre. It may surprise you which ones you enjoy.
If you can’t read because of stress (pandemic, anyone?), reread an old favorite or look through a coffee-table book during your reading time.
If you have a stubborn streak, choose to read banned books. (Don’t forget to tell friends or on social media.) To paraphrase Stephen King, the reason someone banned the book is the reason you need to read it. How will you know your own beliefs and ideas about it if you don’t?
5. Get the book
Your public library is your best and cheapest (free!) source. If they don’t have the book you are looking for, most likely you can ask and they will find and borrow a copy for you to borrow. (Remember to return or renew those books on time so you don’t have to pay late fines.) Of course there are subscription reading services, if you can afford them. Why do I recommend those two avenues? Because the authors get paid by the library or the subscription service.
6. Prepare to Read
Prepare yourself and your reading area before you sit down to read. Reduce or remove distractions. Go to the bathroom. Get a favorite drink and a snack.
Clear the cat, or dog, off your reading chair. Position your reading light. Want scented candles? Jazz playing in the background?Bare feet in the ocean? Prepare everything you need so that once you begin to read, you don’t have to stop.
7 Open the book.
If you’re still having trouble reading for pleasure, tell yourself you only have to read ten pages or for thirty minutes. Then do it. If you are enjoying the book, keep reading.
8. What if you decide you don’t like the book?
Most of the time, you don’t have to read a book you don’t like. Consider a couple of things. Sometimes books are slow to get started. Sometimes you’re distracted and need to try again. You can choose to give it 20-50 pages. If it’s not your cuppa after that, put it down. Pick up the next book.
Sometimes books are hard to read because of the topic or the author’s native language or cultural differences. That might be a book to read to the end to gain information that will expand your sphere of understanding and empathy.
9. Finish the book.
Celebrate and—(you know what’s coming, don’t you?) write a review of the book. If you borrowed it from the library, you can review it on a reader’s site like Goodreads or Bookbub.
10. Pick up the next book.
You have the next two or three books waiting in your reading spot, don’t you?
No one cares how many or what books you’ve read. Not really. You may enjoy making a list of what you’ve read.
If you’re a member of Goodreads or Bookbub, you may say that those sites keep your list. Yes, they do. But what if they decide to do something else or remove the site from the web? There goes your list.
Keep a journal of the title and authors of books you’ve read. Include a word or two that tells you what it was about. Consider creating a rating system for yourself. Review your list every year. Perhaps you’ll reread a book or two and document how your rating of it changes.
Double Bonus Tip:
What if you can’t focus on reading? Give yourself a break. Choose to take a month or two off. At the end of that time, give yourself an opportunity to read something for thirty minutes. If it was pleasurable, there you go.
If it still isn’t a pleasurable experience, consider what’s making it less pleasurable. Too much stress in your life? Do what you can to reduce the stress. Not enough time? See number one.
Have your eyes checked. Maybe your prescription has changed.
Maybe you need a new chair. *smile*
Get Your Reading Mojo Back
Even lifelong readers can get burnt out on reading and need a break. That’s okay. But if that break becomes a habit, these top ten tips to get your reading mojo back will help you re-enter the thousands of lives and thousands of worlds you can experience through books.