How to Take Back Reading for Pleasure

I've been there too— after an English Lit degree and 7/8ths of a Library Science masters (isn't that a story for another time), I didn't feel like reading much anymore.

For me, that's serious business. I was always that girl with my face buried in a book, the girl who would rather read than go to a party or go to an amusement park. Reading is so important in my life; I felt like an essential part of me had shrivelled up, like the well of reading motivation was so far beyond dried up I wasn't sure it would ever recover.

But it did, once I took a step back and looked at the approach I was taking. 

1. Read selfishly

Now is the best time to start rereading some favourites— the treasured books you already know and love, especially YA and children's books. But most importantly? Read what you want. Don't read shit just because you think you "should"— you just spent years doing that. Now is the time to read simply because it's a joy, because you love to. Make it nostalgic, make it effortless. Bust out Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. Forget Ulysses (unless, of course, Ulysses is your idea of a great casual read).

 

2. Read slow.

Reading is not a race. There is no pressure for you to finish 50 books in a year (although, if you'd like to, check out the 50 Book Pledge!) You have no one to impress but yourself, no assignment looming in the not-quite-distant-enough future, so read at the pace where you can enjoy each book the most. It does not matter if it takes you three months to read a short novel.

Savour your favourite parts. Luxuriate in a beautiful phrase— I even recommend reading out loud, or reading alternate chapters with a friend/significant other.

 

3. Read short

You might be surprised how much progress you can make in just ten minutes here and there. When the thought of marathon reading sessions gives you a headache, just spent a few minutes reading a magazine you love, a short story, or a short chapter (lots of Victorian novels have very short chapter, as do books where the POV switches often). 

 

4. Change your environment

It's very easy to associate reading with the places in which we do our reading— the freezing 7th floor of the library, the desk, the bed. Make your reading area your sanctuary, but more importantly change up your location.

Get cozy. Read in a park. Read on the bus, or read while walking (in a safe place, of course!). Anywhere but the types of spaces in which you spent reading during your university years to help you break that association.

 

5. Read differently

Break the monotony by breaking tradition! Read the kind of things you would have never read before. Read something from a genre you've never explored. Change your focus.

If you just finished a degree in political science, pick up a kid's book, or a fantasy novel. Likewise, if you've just finished a degree in English, pick up a lighter read, or a biography of someone you admire.

 

6. Listen, instead

Can I just take a moment to give a serious shout-out to audiobooks? These things have gotten me through so many gloomy winters and long walks, especially Stephen Fry's reading of Harry Potter. There are those people out there will say that audiobooks aren't reading, but that's complete garbage. 

If staring at a page has you nodding off, trying listening to an audiobook while going for a short walk.

 

7. Share

The love of reading is infectious. The best way, in my humble opinion, to revive that love is to spend some time around other people who love reading— even if those people are online. Journal about your thoughts and share your experiences in a bookclub, watch some BookTube videos (check out Jen Campbell, Booksandquills, and Jean Bookishthoughts) or hop in the books subreddit. If you're having trouble finding the spark in yourself, find the spark in others.

If you're looking for some ideas, you can check out some of my favourite books >> here.


How to take back reading for pleasure: tips on rediscovering your love of reading after all desire has been sucked out by your job or university degree.