Wednesday, August 13, 2014

8 Easy Ways to Make Reading a Hobby

Everyone knows that reading is good for you, especially for your brain!  Studies spanning the past decade show that those who keep their minds active (reading is one good way) are less prone to degenerative diseases like Alzheimers and age-progressive memory loss.  But reading has lots of other boosts:  a stretch in your creativity, a calming way to unwind, and fun, cheap entertainment!  Let’s not forget that reading is the way we learn:  new things, facts, vocabulary and the development of new interests.  Some people read to learn, others read for enjoyment.  I think most people read for both reasons.

Rather you are an avid reader, a self-proclaimed bookworm, or have found yourself pledging to ‘read more,’ I have outlined some great pointers that will help you make reading a hobby that you can enjoy daily:

1.  Pick books that you are interested in, and material that you will enjoy.  This step is especially important if you are just beginning to read as a hobby.  If you are already a reader, you probably already know which books you generally gravitate towards.  As for beginners,  so many times I’ve heard people say ‘reading is boring, it’s such a chore.’  This isn’t so!  Perhaps during your high school or college years you were forced to read and memorize literature that you found less than interesting…and so you were misled to believe that reading is an exhausting chore.  Of course if you are finding reading material difficult or boring, you’re not going to want to read it at all!  The key word here is ‘interest.’  Find reading material that you want to read, stories you find exciting, and you’ll see how fun reading really is!

2.  Spend some time browsing in a bookstore or library, or even Amazon.com.  This will give you access to hundreds of thousands of books ranging from fiction, philosophy, nonfiction, biographies, poetry…there’s too much to really list.  Take some time to read the inside and back covers for story synopsis and descriptions of the books.  This will give you an idea of what you enjoy reading and where you can usually find it.

3.  Pick one or two main genres of interest.  Maybe you enjoy mysteries or romance?  Perhaps you’re into classic literature or contemporary poetry?  Once you create that niche of interest, it’s so easy to find books of the same genre, new authors, and even more books to add to your reading list.  Take me, for example, I started out reading romantic suspense until one day I discovered the Vintage Gothic Romance section of the library.  They were still romantic suspense, but fell beneath a slightly different sub-genre.  Romantic suspense can also fall under paranormal romance and even horror.  So you see, once you figure out what you really enjoy reading, the possibilities for reading material are endless!

4.  Get involved with others who enjoy the art of reading.  Many public libraries and college campus libraries have book discussion groups for preselected books.  There are also online groups for reading discussions.  If book discussions aren’t your thing, you can still socialize and talk with others who enjoy your genre, some groups even have authors!  Try the websites Good Reads and Library Thing to get started.   You can also create your own book review blog or reading forum.   All these are great ways to give and get suggestions, learn new authors, and connect with other readers/writers of your favorite genres.

5.  Make reading a fun, relaxing, pleasurable experience.  Have a favorite, relaxing place to escape to while you read.  For me, it’s an old recliner I’ve had for years, it even has a table beside it for snacks and candles.  Yes, you should have a favorite drink/snack, maybe even light some candles or have a reading lamp to set the mood.  Eliminate outside noises like the TV and Radio if you can.  Wear your most comfy PJ’s or snuggle under a favorite throw (I often do both!).  Or if you’re reading outside the home, assign a favorite chair/table/corner at the cafĂ© or library/bookstore.  Many bookstores and campus libraries also have cafes so grab yourself a coffee or tea to go with it!

6.  Set some challenging, but realistic, reading goals.  I always aim to read at least 50-75 pages a day.  I also have ‘reading time’ every night, usually before bed.  I aim to read for at least an hour.  You can also set a goal of how many books you want to read this year.  My goal is 100-150.  Setting a reading goal is a fun challenge that will give you something to read towards, literally!

7.  Create your “To Be Read” list.  When you come across book in the library or online that you find interesting and when you are suggested a good book or an upcoming new release, write them down on your ‘to be read’ list.  You can refer to your list when you run out of books to read.  Plus, once you learn to utilize a list of books you wish to read, you won’t risk forgetting a title or scrambling for new reading material every time you finish a book!

8.  Always keep a book at hand.  You never know when you’re going to end up with some unexpected downtime.  Those awkward moments when you’re standing in a check out line, waiting in a doctors office, stuck in a traffic jam…no problem, just pull your book out!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat waiting, bored stiff, because I forgot to bring my book along!  A book makes waiting time more bearable, and it moves more quickly.  And you get the added bonus of adding some unexpected reading time to your busy schedule.