How to Start Enjoying Reading Again

Ignite that flame of love for books in your heart

How to Start Enjoying Reading Again
Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

Ignite that flame of love for books in your heart

Are you someone who used to swear by books in your childhood, but as an adult, have been struggling to get back to reading with the same passion as in your youth?

You read, there’s no denying that, but you are unable to replicate that feeling of wide-eyed awe that used to burn bright in your heart when you were a child.

Do you fear that you will never have that feeling of satisfaction of being transported to a different world again, that obsession with which you love an author so much, you need to read everything they have written?

If you found yourself nodding, let me tell you this: you are not alone.

And the best part — this can be changed.

With some conscious effort and minor lifestyle changes, you will be able to get that wild, all-consuming love for books burning in your heart.

I know this because I had been an avid reader back in school. Then, college happened, and I got so busy, I could barely manage to read one book each month. Things got worse when I started working and months passed by when I didn’t read a single book.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying. I was. I just wasn’t able to love a book with all my heart to make me want to leave everything else and keep reading.

Reading felt like a chore and I was doing it not out of love for books, but for the need to keep checking off names on my TBR (to-be-read list).

But then, I made some decisions in 2019 that helped me read 81 books in one year. I did not skim through but read them with the passion that made me forgo sleep and stay up all night to finish a scene.

In this article, I am going to share with you all the tips and hacks I followed to start enjoying reading again. I hope they will resonate with you and help you become a passionate reader.

Don’t Take Too Long To Finish A Book

I have observed that the longer I take to finish a book, the lesser invested I would be in its story. This might be true for others as well because you can only be immersed in the world an author creates if you read it in a flow and let the atmosphere pull you in.

Reading in between tasks

If you read the book at random moments of the day in between tasks, you wouldn’t be able to invest your attention in it fully. Your mind would likely be elsewhere, thinking of what needs to be done immediately after or how you didn’t perform the previous task well enough.

You need to be mindful while reading, and you can do that only when no other thoughts are lingering in your brain as you read.

For that, you would need to allocate a particular time in your day just for reading. Otherwise, your mind will never assign the task of reading enough importance for it to settle on it comfortably.

Reading in short sessions

It takes time to delve into the world an author has crafted. If you read a book for only a few minutes, all that time would be spent in familiarizing yourself with the writing style and the theme. Before you can fully appreciate the content, your reading session would already be over.

For a book to leave its impact on you, you have to read it in sessions long enough for it to capture your attention. A short reading session of one or two pages every alternate day won’t achieve that.

Read for Pleasure

On a recent Ask me anything session I hosted on my Instagram, a follower mentioned that he was a final year student of engineering who enjoyed reading fiction. He was worried that he was “wasting time” by reading as it would not help him advance in his career in any way.

Capitalist lies

The capitalist society has made it sound as if reading is an assignment you need to perform in order to improve your life. We are so used to social media posts and videos telling us that the only purpose of reading is to gain knowledge, that we internalise this as if our life depends on it and forget to read for pleasure.

Don’t let that happen.

When you start reading, let the pressure of having to learn something from the book dissolve. Instead, read it for the sheer pleasure of reading, to interact with the world the author has created and to give yourself an escape from the humdrum of everyday life.

Remember this: you read because you love reading.

You don’t read because this is one way to gain knowledge and you have to learn lessons from the book.

Once you let that pressure go, you will find yourself getting invested in the book for the pleasure of it.

Don’t worry about wasting time. As the legendary singer John Lenon quoted,

“Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted.”

Personal development

Coming back to the question the follower on Instagram posed, here is what I think: yes, reading fiction will not directly help you advance in your career. But, it will make you wiser, more accepting of differences and open-minded. It will help you grow as a person.

And, when you become a better person, you would have better chances of building a better career for yourself.

Be Yourself

A close friend who used to be an avid reader back in our school days recently told me that she was trying hard to read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, but was unable to enjoy it.

“That’s alright,” I told her. “You can drop the book for now, pick something else you enjoy, and come back to it later.”

“But you don’t understand,” she insisted. “Raghav recommended it to me saying it’s his favourite book. I need to finish it soon so we can discuss.”

Did you see what happened there? The reason behind wanting to read Sapiens was to impress her crush (Raghav), and not because she was interested in it.

Don’t read to impress

Like my friend, I have seen several people succumb to the pressure of having to like a popular book and force themselves into hours and hours of doing something they derive no joy from.

Don’t fall into that trap.

Only read a book you enjoy. If you hate a bestseller that everyone is talking about, then so be it. Not every reader is made for every book and vice versa.

It is your unique taste that defines your individuality. Don’t let the pressure of having to “fit in” steal the joy of reading from you.

Stick to your preferred genre

While it is essential to explore the possibilities and expand your reading horizon, don’t stay away from your comfort genre for too long. Otherwise, you will feel resentful towards the books you aren’t able to enjoy and will subconsciously end up blaming yourself for not giving the book the attention or love it deserves.

Fantasy fiction is my comfort genre. I love it so much that I can read it for days at an end. But, I do understand that too much of something can lead to your brain being saturated, and hence, every once in a while, I venture out and read non-fiction and self-help books.

But, I always come back to fantasy fiction. And I make sure the break is never too long.

If you do this for long enough, you will achieve a fine balance between reading books for knowledge and reading to satisfy your soul.

Embrace your taste

If you are an adult who loves reading comics, embrace your preferences. There is no right or wrong about what books should be read at which age. So, don’t try to hide your own self in order to merge better with what everyone else thinks is “normal”.

As the Japanese author, Haruki Murakami quoted-

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. That’s the world of hicks and slobs. Real people would be ashamed of themselves doing that.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Engage in Active Reading

A study refers to active reading as- “reading something with a determination to understand and evaluate it for its relevance to your needs.

A learning guide by Princeton University suggests the following measures to engage in active reading to get the most out of a book-

  • Ask yourself pre-reading questions. For example: What is the topic, and what do you already know about it? Why did the author use this phrase, and to what effect?
  • Bracket the main idea of the reading, and put an asterisk next to it. Pay particular attention to the introduction or opening paragraphs to understand this information.
  • Put down your highlighter. Make marginal notes or comments instead. Every time you feel the urge to highlight something, write instead. You can summarise the text, ask questions, give assent, protest vehemently. You can also write down keywords to help you recall where essential points are discussed. Above all, strive to enter into a dialogue with the author.
  • Write questions in the margins, and then answer the questions in a reading journal or on a separate piece of paper.
  • Make outlines, flow charts, or diagrams that help you to map and to understand ideas visually.
  • Read each paragraph carefully and then determine “what it says” and “what it does.” Answer “what it says” in only one sentence. Represent the main idea of the paragraph in your own words. To answer “what it does,” describe the paragraph’s purpose within the text, such as “provides evidence for the author’s first main reason” or “introduces an opposing view.”
  • Write a summary of a chapter in your own words. Do this in less than a page. Capture the essential ideas and perhaps one or two key examples. This approach offers a great way to be sure that you know what the reading really says or is about.

Book discussions

Apart from this, a technique I follow quite religiously is to discuss a book I recently read with friends. When you know you would have to engage in a discussion soon, you automatically pay more attention to what you’re reading. In addition, it is enchanting to hear the enthusiasm of another person about a book you loved, and it makes you like the book more.

Discussions also give you a different perspective on the story and help you stay with the book long after you turn the last page.

Mix Up The Eras

If you only read urban millennial romance and find it jaded and uninspiring, switch to period dramas or historical fiction to see what it feels like.

If you’ve only been reading books by dead writers (aka the Classics) of late, try reading some contemporary fiction and see how you like it.

When you mix up the times the stories are set it, you are exposing yourself to a broader range of emotions as a reader. And often, it happens that too much of a similar theme, time or place can get on one’s nerves and make them resent reading.

If you mix up the setting, you will look forward to seeing how the new book fares. The excitement of reading something different after a long time would make you cherish the book even more.

Don’t Simply “Read”

Your experience with a book should not start when you read the first page and end when you turn the last. Don’t merely read a book, experience it.

Go through some reviews before you start reading so you have an idea of what to expect (But then again, avoid spoilers and don’t read so much that you have nothing new left to explore).

After the book is done, here are some things you can try to prolong the experience the book designed for you:

  • Stalk the author on social media. Listen to their TEDx talks and understand the circumstances under which they wrote the book. This will help you feel connected to the book on a deeper level and several of the twists and plot points might make more sense.
  • Go through internet discussion forums of the book and engage in conversation with other readers who enjoyed the book. This will recreate the feeling you might have had when you were younger when you couldn’t wait to go to school the next day and discuss with your friends about the fantastic new book you read.
  • If the book has been converted into a movie or TV series, watch that to experience the characters come to life and connect with the story on a more intimate level.

Closing Notes

In recent times, if you have felt that you cannot enjoy reading a book as much as you did when you were younger and reading has started to feel like a compulsion than a hobby, it is possible to change that feeling and fall in love with reading again.

Summarising, here is what you can try:

  1. Don’t take too long to read a book. Finish it in as few sittings as possible.
  2. Read because you enjoy it and not with the aim of learning something or getting the most out of the book.
  3. Read the books that excite and entice you. If you aren’t enjoying a book that everyone else on the internet loves, accept that and move on to the next book. Life is too short to be miserable and beat yourself up over not being able to complete a “popular” book.
  4. Engage in active reading.
  5. Mix up the eras your books are set in. Read both classics and contemporary fiction.
  6. Don’t just read, experience the book. Spend time with the quotes and the author’s online presence after you’re done reading, and engage in constructive conversation with other readers who enjoyed it.

There are few pleasures in life as unadulterated and fulfilling as reading. Appreciate the gifts it bears and don’t taint it with unrealistic expectations that might ruin the experience for you.


If you liked this article, here are a few pieces you might enjoy-

How Reading Fiction Can Improve Your Life
If you have to choose between fiction and self-help, pick up the former. Here’s why
5 Tips to Get The Most Out of Each Book You Read
Unconventional ways to retain more information from books

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