Before going any further, here is a quick check of where you are on the reading habits scale. Please answer the questions truthfully.
1. Do you enjoy reading books?
2. Have you read at least one book for yourself in the last 6 months?
3. Do you have the habit of buying books?
4. Are you a member of any lending library?
Many people I know have simply reeled off a “no” to every single question above. They don’t have the habit of reading books. They simply don’t enjoy reading them. Hence, they don’t buy books and normally don’t even venture into a library.
The habit can be inculcated. But before looking at the simple 7 step process, let us look at what one loses out by NOT reading books and not having this habit. Quite simply, reading books opens up a window of experience which we don’t otherwise have. It may be about stories that the author has written or about a point of view that he is proposing. By NOT reading, we miss out on such a massive wealth of knowledge and learning.
And, in spite of knowing this, people still simply don’t read. Many times, I have seen people wanting to read a book but losing interest on the second page. So, how do you inculcate the habit?
Step 1 : Start with a list of what you really would love to read about.
I am sure you have a number of interests. You could be interested in learning about economics. Or you want to learn more about President Obama. What are the 3 or 4 things that you would like to read about?
Step 2 : Look at a set of books on the topic.
You can check on the Net, in the bookshop, check out your local library. Put together a small list of books on the topic. This does two things. It shows you how many books are out there which you need to know about, and it also gives you a point from which to start.
Step 3 : Take one which looks the friendliest:
Of the lot, just select one which looks the slimmest, friendliest and easiest to read. Maybe it has lots of pictures. Check out the writing style. If you see simple words, probably that is what you need to start with. If it has only a few pages, great. It is psychologically easier to finish a few pages than many pages.
Step 4 : Tweet about it, put it on Facebook:
Publicly declaring that you are about to read the book is what you need to do. This is the most important step. This sets you up so that you have to get it done. Put up a note for yourself – where your family members and friends can also see it – “I am reading “NAME OF THE BOOK.” Set up a deadline for yourself. Put that also in your tweet.
Step 5 : Read that book.
This is actually easier once you are through the above four steps. First, glance through the book. Take in the contents. Look at the back page. See what the author talks about. Then start reading. If there are any paragraphs that look boring, don’t worry. Just skip those and go to the next one. If there are any words that you don’t understand, don’t go running to a dictionary. That can be done later. Just move on. Read on to get the gist of what the book is all about. Remember that you don’t need to memorize the book. You need to first get the overall point being made in the book. Also, read on to enjoy the language. Read on to appreciate the way the author is making his point. If you get bored in between, that is fine. Just stop. Put a bookmark inside. Close the book and go ahead with your work. But remember to come back. Remember to finish the book.
Step 6 : Visualize what you read
This makes it easier to go to the next book. Can you visualize what you just finished reading? Can you tell the 3 key points being made in that book you just read? If you can, then you have read well. If you cannot, then you probably need to go back to the book and read again. Once you start visualizing the key points and contents, your confidence in yourself to read the book and retain the salient points goes up.
Step 7 : Record your feelings about the book
This is really helpful to inculcate the habit. How did you feel when you read the book? Did you feel you were in the shoes of the author, seeing what the author saw, feeling what the author felt? Did that story that you read move you? Did you laugh? Did you cry? Did the arguments make sense to you? Would you care to reply to the author with your own set of counter arguments? Write these down. Maybe you can start a blog. Maybe you can tweet to your friends. Recording your points shows to the world that you have read the book. It also ensures that you remember what you read. This way, you can prove to yourself that you did enjoy the act of reading the book, even if you somehow did not enjoy the book itself.
Take the next book!! Go on. Enjoy reading!