How Do I Love Reading, Let Me Count the Ways
Updated: Oct 8
Reading was the first habit I listed as something leaders should adopt to be successful in my blog post, 11 Habits Leaders Should Adopt to be Successful.
I'm going to be honest here, the only reason it was first is because reading is one of my favorite things to do. I’m always reading. I always have and always will.
When I got in trouble as a kid, my mom would ground me. But she grounded me by confiscating my books. It was sheer torture.
When I got together with my friends for sleepovers, we read books. (Go ahead, call us nerds. We’re used to it. Plus, those friends are now wildly successful in their respective careers.) If I had 24 hours to do whatever I wanted, I'd spend those 24 hours curled up on my couch reading.
And can I tell you how e-books changed my life? I didn’t fully embrace e-books until I realized tablets allowed me to read in the dark without having to turn on the light. And now I have the ability to carry around hundreds of books on my phone everywhere I go. Literally, hundreds.
But I Have a Confession
I never developed a habit of reading books on personal growth and development until just a few years ago.
What, you thought I was going to confess to reading steamy romance novels? Sure. Sometimes those are fun to read too, but no. Not the confession. Sorry.
When I first started working and actually had money to spend, my favorite thing to do was to go to the bookstore. I’d browse the bestseller shelves to see if the latest thriller had come out in paperback yet. Then I’d hit the discount shelves and pick out a few books.
Every once in a while I’d go to the personal growth and development section to see if there was anything that interested me. I felt obligated because these were the books that are supposed to be good for you. Plus, I heard somewhere that great leaders are supposed read a lot, and I was pretty sure they didn't mean my obsession with the Harry Potter novels. (But there are some leadership lessons to be learned from his adventures too!)
So Many Books, So Little Time
I began to amass quite the collection of books.
My non-fiction collection looked interesting. These books were highly recommended. I needed to read about how to become a better communicator or how to lead with confidence.
Yet my fiction collection looked even more enticing. And this pile grew at a faster rate than my non-fiction books.
I wanted to read the books on leadership and personal growth. But I wanted to read the latest Dan Brown thriller more.
It would take me a year to finish a single book about leadership. In that same amount of time, I’d finish thirty fiction novels.
I couldn’t help myself. The fiction novels were like addicting junk food and the leadership books were like tasteless healthy food.
It’s just that the leadership and self-development books were just so…boring.
Maybe you're thinking reading is boring. I probably lost some of you after the blog title.
Okay, fine. I get it. Not everyone enjoys reading like I do. I mean, I can’t relate, but I do understand.
Reading is really good for you. It opens up the world and allows you to learn from a diverse set of perspectives.
How Do You Start a Reading Habit?
So what do I recommend for people who don’t like to read?
1. Start Small
There are plenty of short articles on-line that don’t take long to read. And they’re often accompanied by eye-catching photos to help illustrate points. I’m not trying to be facetious. We only have so much time in a day. If it’s faster and easier to consume short articles and the pictures drive the points across, then go for it.
2. Read Stuff That Interests You
There are hundreds of genres and sub-genres of fiction out there if non-fiction isn’t your thing. Find something you like and give it a try. Same thing for non-fiction. Yes, I know, it’s faster to watch the movie or 10-part docuseries on Netflix. But this is a great way to start a new reading habit.
3. Ask for Recommendations
See what your friends, colleagues or family members recommend. People who know you well can recommend a book that would fit your personality. And it makes it easier when people you know have read the book. You can even discuss the book with them when you’re finished.
4. Join a Book Club
I’ve been a part of book clubs before. I enjoyed the social aspect of them, but I didn’t like feeling pressured to finish a book in time. It was like being back in school again. At least I wasn’t getting graded on the book. But book clubs are a great way to hold yourself accountable to finishing a book. Additionally, they’re a great excuse to get together socially. Bonus if you actually talk about the book.
5. Be Deliberate
Carve out time for yourself to read and do it every day. It doesn’t have to be long. Fifteen or twenty minutes a day would be plenty. People spend more than that each day on social media.
How I Started Reading Healthier Books
My husband wishes I would carve out time to not read. All joking aside, I wanted to be more deliberate about what I was reading. I needed to read “healthier” books. I needed to do this when I wasn’t going to be distracted or likely to nod off. I found this time in the first half hour after I woke up each morning.
I forced myself to read a chapter from a “healthy” book during that half hour every day until I was finished. And maybe I’m more mature now or maybe I just have more life experience, but the “healthy” books resonate with me more now than when I was younger. But it took me dedicating specific time for reading “healthy” books for me to actually finish them.
Audiobooks and Podcasts
Another option is audio books or podcasts. Personally, I prefer actual reading over audio. This is only because I’m usually doing something else at the same time, like driving or running, and my mind wanders. And by the time I resume listening, I’ve missed two chapters.
But audio works for a lot of people.
Find What Works For You
In the end, you need to find what works best for you. Take it in small steps and keep trying.
But don’t just read or listen. You need to reflect upon the information you learned. If you agree with it, then find a way to implement it. If you disagree with it, then figure out why and determine what and why you would do things differently.
Check out my book recommendations here.
Comment below: If you enjoy reading, what kinds of books do you like to read? If reading isn’t your thing, what do you think some of your barriers are that make it a chore?