3 Lies You Tell Yourself That Stop You From Reading More Books

All it takes is a change of perspective to make you a super-reader

3 Lies You Tell Yourself That Stop You From Reading More Books
Anangsha Alammyan on Instagram

All it takes is a change of perspective to make you a super-reader

You want to read more books. Each year, you set ambitious targets. But each time, life gets in the way.

You used to be an avid reader back in school. Even now, you still remember how good it felt connecting to the written word on a deep level. You crave that connection once again, but try as you might, you suck at sticking to your reading goals.

Until a few years ago, I was in the same boat. When I was young, I read 5+ books each week until I’d finished all the good books in the school library. But once college and adult life started, my excuses kept getting stronger. From the girl who read 200+ books each year, I became the woman who could barely finish 10. It was horrible — a dark phase I had to work hard to get out of.

After successfully building a reading habit and sticking to it with a dogged determination, I’ve read 150+ books in the past two years. Based on my experience, I’ve compiled a list of three most common lies I used to tell myself when I was struggling to read. If you find yourself nodding as you read each section, don’t despair. I’ve also listed practical and actionable steps you can use to get out of your reading slump.

If you’re looking for a way to ignite that love for reading in your soul, this article is just for you.

“I don’t have time.”

Don’t you? Or are you just bad at prioritizing?

I know this because all through 2015 to 2018, this is the biggest lie I kept telling myself. I knew I wanted to get back to reading. I knew only books could fill the void in my chest. But I didn’t know how to prioritize reading and fit it into my schedule. And hence, I blamed it on time.

This changed in 2019 when I consciously started making plans to stick to my reading goal of completing 50 books in that year. It was ambitious, but without making significant changes to my routine, I was able to read 81 books that year. In 2020, I’d read 91. All of this was possible when I had a full-time job, a part-time PhD, wrote at least 100 articles on Medium, and finished writing a 87000+ word novel.

So no, if you tell me you don’t have time, I won’t believe you.

Here’s how you can get past this lie:

  • Don’t take your phone to bed. Instead, keep it in another room and carry a book or your e-reader with you when you retire for the day. Research has established that reading on a self-luminous e-reader at night after turning out the lights does not affect sleep patterns in adults. That way, you can fit in 30 minutes of reading at night and another 30 in the morning.
  • Listen to audiobooks when you’re doing chores like washing clothes, doing the dishes, chopping vegetables, and cooking. That way, your silences would be filled with beautiful stories and you’d get a lot more reading done. You can find some tips to effectively listen to audiobooks here.

“I can’t finish any book I started. Reading is so boring.”

If you think reading is boring, you’ve probably picked the wrong book. So many of my friends complain that they can never manage to stick to a book long enough to complete it. When I ask them what they’ve been reading, they name books like Thinking Fast and Slow or The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.

Here’s the thing. As a newbie reader, if you pick up books that even seasoned readers find it hard to finish, there’s no doubt you’ll find it hard to complete them. In addition, if you only go for books that are “popular” and blame yourself for not finishing them, you won’t be able to find your unique reading taste.

Here’s how you can get past this lie:

  • Pick up as many books as you can and read through the first 50 pages. If you still can’t find it interesting, drop it and pick something else. There’s no reason to feel guilty for not finishing each book you start. When you’re starting out, reading as many different genres as possible will help you develop a taste.
  • When you find your comfort genre, don’t deviate too much from it just because everyone on the internet keeps telling you that only a certain category of books (ahem, self-help) can result in tangible benefits. I enjoy fiction more than anything else and I’ve shamelessly only read fiction for the past 5 months.
  • Don’t put too much thought into finding the “right” book so you can get the most benefit out of it. Life is too short to contemplate too much on something as simple as your reading choice. Be whimsical. Be impulsive. Read all the books that catch your attention and don’t be embarrassed to admit that you dislike “popular” books.
  • Don’t hesitate to read more than one book at a time. This can prevent that sense of boredom that creeps in when a book stretches a tad too long and you find yourself getting tired of the premise.

“I don’t have enough money to buy books. Hence, I can’t read.”

You don’t need to buy every book you read. Libraries are a great place to start. You can also join book clubs in your city and exchange books with fellow book-lovers. If you aren’t a member of a book club yet, searching for <Your city name bookclub> on Instagram will lead you to the most popular ones.

In addition, my friend Ruchi Das has written an awesome article listing a lot of cool ways in which you can get books to read for free.

Here’s how you can get past this lie:

  • Get an audiobook subscription. Audible, Scribd, Storytel — all of them have two or three-month free trials available online. You can sign up for an account, get yourself a free trial and listen to as many books as you can. Once the free trial is over, a subscription to Storytel and Scribd costs only INR 250 a month (about $5 US) which you can use to listen to an unlimited number of audiobooks. In my opinion, that’s a great investment.
  • Get a Kindle Unlimited subscription. As the name suggests, you can read an unlimited number of books for just INR 169 ($3 US) a month. Amazon also offers a 30-day free trial during which you can get a taste of reading eBooks before actually investing in the subscription.

Final Words

Trust me, it doesn’t take a lot to become a reader. If your heart is in it, you can overcome any obstacle to move ahead on your reading journey. The only thing you need is dedication and a strong why. If your reason for wanting to read is self-fueled and not rising out of FOMO, you can definitely read as many books as you set a target for.

How I Read More Than 80 Books in a Year
Simple tricks you can apply to get more reading done
Your Internalised Capitalism Might Prevent You From Being a Better Reader
Learn to enjoy reading rather than being so focussed on picking the book you can get the most out of

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