How to get back into reading more books if your habit has slipped

Whether we are sitting by the pool on holiday, commuting to work, in a coffee shop or settling down before bed, reading a book is a great way to switch off and relax. 

But sometimes it can be hard to get the motivation to actually pick up a book and start reading.

It’s often way easier to just keep scrolling on our phones, watch a TV show or stare aimlessly out the window as we daydream.

And while we might buy more books with the best of intentions, when we don’t actually read them, things get messy.

Piling up our to-be-read (TBR) piles before we have even touched any of the books we already own probably isn’t best for our space or our bank accounts.

The more books we buy, the less likely we are to read the ones we already have. And it can be super overwhelming to know where to start.

So how can we get our motivation for reading back and actually get through the TBR pile?

A recent study from Get Laid Beds found that reading a book before bed was proven to be more effective than a late walk, hot drink, meditation and writing in a journal.

However, a lot of people struggle to motivate themselves to turn off their favourite Netflix programmes and pick up a book instead.

‘A loss of motivation can mean different things. It could be that you stopped enjoying it, or you’re not enjoying what you’ve got into the habit of reading,’ says life and business coach Phil Drinkwater.

‘Spending a little time thinking about what motivated you [to read] in the first place, and what has changed, can lead you to go back to what you love, or forward to something new.’

Take your book with you

Rebecca Alford a reading expert from Wob.com suggests carrying your book (or Kindle) around with you.

‘It means you can whip it out whenever you have a few minutes spare,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Instead of scrolling on your phone on your lunch break, the morning bus journey, or waiting for an appointment, spend that time reading.

‘You’ll experience the double benefit of having a screen break and enjoying some escapism with a good book – both excellent for mental health.’

Picking the book

Re-reading 

Helen Haraldsen, an English teacher, children’s author and former school librarian from Cumbria spends her life with books and says a big part of her work involves encouraging children and teenagers to read. 

She suggests going back to a book you have read before and know you love if you are feeling demotivated by any of the titles on your TBR pile.

‘There’s something comforting about getting back into a book you’ve enjoyed in the past. It might even be a favourite children’s book.  

Even though it lacks the suspense of wondering what’s going to happen, it’s like meeting up with an old friend you haven’t seen for a while again!’

Similar titles 

‘Think about those books that you’ve loved, and find them on Amazon,’ Helen recommends. 

‘You may find that the author has other books that you weren’t aware of. If you like their writing style, you might want to try another by them.  

‘You can also look at the “also boughts” or related products to see other books that are like it.  

‘You can then check out reviews to see how well-liked they’ve been by other readers.’

Pick something short

Helen suggests looking for short stories or anthologies in genres that you like.  

‘Anthologies are great as you’ll have several writers all contributing a short story which doesn’t take as much commitment to read,’ she explains. 

‘If you particularly enjoy some of them, you can check out that author to see what else they have available.’

Take it slowly 

‘If you aren’t confident with reading, aiming to spend small, bitesize chunks of time can be a good place to start,’ says Rebecca. 

‘Evidence suggests that if you can find just six minutes a day to spend reading, you should start to notice an improvement in mental health and reduction in stress. 

‘Find a book that makes you smile and hopefully six minutes a day won’t feel like a task, plus you might find that you slowly become completely engrossed and read for longer.’

Ultimately the amount of time you actually spend reading is up to you, says Katherine Hall, a sleep expert at Somnus Sleep Therapy.

‘Think realistically and opt for slightly less time than you initially think just to be safe,’ she suggests. ‘Then, once you’re happy reading for, say, ten minutes a night and find yourself wanting to read more, increase this gradually.

‘This way, there’ll be no burnout, and the enjoyment factor will still be present.’

Create a calming environment

It’s probably not realistic to suggest putting your phone in a different room as life commitments and hearing from loved ones mean we are usually inseparable from our phones. 

However, if you are able to turn off your notifications and keep your phone on silent while you are reading, you will be less likely to check it and become distracted.

‘Setting a scene where you’re comfortable and away from distractions is key to the enjoyment of your reading time,’ adds Rebecca.

‘Making sure you have good lighting is also key. Taking this a step further with a scented candle, cosy blanket, and hot drink can be even better, too, if that’s your thing.’

And remember, reading is a time for you to be alone and slow down.

Join a book club

‘While not every book may be your cup of tea, it’s way more fun to finish a book and discuss it with other people than to finish it, close it and then just forget about it,’ says Katherine.

‘Joining a book club will allow you to explore different genres, find new authors and even develop your thinking a bit further. 

‘Some people may interpret books in a completely different way to you, which is always very interesting to hear.

‘By having a reading goal, often the deadline being the next week to discuss so many chapters, you’ll be more motivated to pick up a book before bed.’

If you aren’t enjoying it, stop reading it

Life is short, so don’t waste time reading something you are not enjoying.

‘If you’ve started a book and it just isn’t grabbing you, don’t feel bad about giving up and moving on to something else,’ Katherine adds,

‘Asking friends for recommendations on which books they’ve loved can be a good place to start as you might find your reading taste is similar. 

‘Or read online reviews of the books you’re considering to see if other readers have highlighted anything that you might particularly like or dislike.’

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