Here’s how you can do it too.
As a child, reading five books each week was not a hard task.
My school had a wondrously huge library full of books from every genre you could imagine. To me, it was akin to paradise. From mysteries to adventure, magic to courtroom drama — I would read any book I could lay my hands on.
But then, life happened.
Quiet evenings spent reading were replaced by noisy “gossip sessions”, movie nights, and walks along the long, dusty roads of the college campus.
I changed, or maybe my priorities did. Before I knew it, reading became a luxury I could no longer afford.
From five books a week, I struggled to finish five books in a whole year. I told myself this was alright, but my heart knew I was lying.
I missed reading.
I missed losing myself in the fantastic world created from scratch by an author’s imagination. I missed squealing with excitement when two of my favourite characters finally confessed their love for each other. I missed burying my nose in a book, lost to the outside world, suddenly making the people around me cast shocked looks my way when I burst out laughing.
Since 2018, I’ve been trying to find my way back to this hobby that made me feel truly alive. I started small, setting a goal of 20 books in the year — a goal that I had to huff and sweat to barely meet before December was done.
The next year was better, and the one after that, even more so.
Last month, I finished eight books without breaking a sweat.
From five books a year to eight books a month: how did I do it? Well, this article is all about that!
I Made Audiobooks My Best Friend
There are some readers who scoff at the idea of audiobooks, saying listening doesn’t count as reading.
I beg to disagree.
The decision to give audiobooks a try was the best decision I made in recent years. They not only redesigned my reading experience, but also made me realise just how many layers an author can add to their writing — something I had been oblivious to earlier.
Based on my experience, here are some of the most compelling reasons every reader should give audiobooks a try:
- If the narrator is good, audiobooks have the potential to make the story come alive. You can go through every emotion, have goosebumps erupt on your skin each time something amazing happens, and laugh and cry with the characters.
- You can differentiate the minor characters because each one of them has a different tone of voice.
- If you are a non-native English speaker like me, listening to American or British narrators will help improve your spoken English and identify what words you had been pronouncing wrong.
How you can incorporate them into your lifestyle
Let an audiobook play in the background the next time you are doing the chores you don’t enjoy. For me, these were cooking, cleaning, and hanging out clothes to dry.
By listening during these times, you not only add meaning to your silences but also get more reading done in what would have otherwise been an unproductive interval of time.
And trust me, after the first couple of tries, you will fall in love with audiobooks. They will help you get immersed in the story in a way a physical book seldom can.
I Ditched My Phone for a Book Before Sleeping
I had this habit of scrolling mindlessly through my phone for at least half an hour before going to sleep.
It was unhealthy, I knew. I kept counting the hours I would get to sleep, but it was like an addiction I couldn’t overcome. If I had a phone with me, I would waste time on social media.
In 2018, I made a conscious decision to leave my phone on the dresser while I retired for the night. But because my brain got restless and needed some time to relax, I took my Kindle instead.
And thus, all the time I had been wasting craving for instant gratification was channelised into something that would nourish my imagination and help me grow.
You could say I was replacing one addiction with another, but, surprisingly, reading before going to bed helped me have a calmer mind and a longer duration of REM sleep.
“We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming, our own consciousness in someone else’s mind.”
— Anna Quindlen
I Made Reading A Part of My Morning Routine
An unexpected perk of going to sleep with a book is that when you wake up, you can’t reach for your phone (because we left it on the dresser, remember?).
Once I started actively practising this, I noticed some amazing benefits. Because my body was relaxed and my mind was not cluttered by the tensions of the day, I could focus on the book better. It was an immersive experience on another level — as if nothing in the universe existed save the book and me.
Also, since I was starting where I left off on the previous day, the experience was surreal, a connecting thread between last night’s sleep and this morning’s first conscious memory.
I don’t read for long. Twenty, probably thirty minutes. But after that, my brain feels charged, buzzing with ideas and theories, ready to take on whatever challenges the new day throws at me.
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”
— Joseph Addison
The best part was: I did not specifically take out time from my routine to read in the morning. All I did was replace refreshing the notifications page with reading.
It’s Not About Having Time, It’s About Making Time
I used to tell myself that I was too busy, that I didn’t have time for reading.
I was wrong.
I had all the time in the world. What I lacked was the drive to get back to reading again. I knew I wanted to, but there was this voice inside my head that said it was too much effort, that the familiar comfort of my current unhealthy lifestyle was too good to give up on.
In the end, I didn’t sacrifice anything.
I still work, write, and socialise as I used to. The only change I made was a conscious mindset shift that I needed to replace unproductive activities with reading, and voila! I had both the time and the mood.
“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”
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