Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tips to cultivate a lifetime reading habit

First, realize that reading is highly enjoyable, if you have a good book. If you have a lousy book (or an extremely difficult one) and you are forcing yourself through it, it will seem like a chore. If this happens for several days in a row, consider abandoning the book and finding one that you’ll really love.
Other than that, try these tips to cultivate a lifetime reading habit:

  • Set times. You should have a few set times during every day when you’ll read for at least 5-10 minutes. These are times that you will read no matter what — triggers that happen each day. For example, make it a habit to read during breakfast and lunch (and even dinner if you eat alone). And if you also read every time you’re sitting on the can, and when you go to bed, you now have four times a day when you read for 10 minutes each — or 40 minutes a day. That’s a great start, and by itself would be an excellent daily reading habit. But there’s more you can do.

  • Always carry a book. Wherever you go, take a book with you. When I leave the house, I always make sure to have my drivers license, my keys and my book, at a minimum. The book stays with me in the car, and I take it into the office and to appointments and pretty much everywhere I go, unless I know I definitely won’t be reading (like at a movie). If there is a time when you have to wait (like at a doctor’s office or at the DMV), whip out your book and read. Great way to pass the time.

  • Make a list. Keep a list of all the great books you want to read. You can keep this in your journal, in a pocket notebook, on your personal home page, on your personal wiki, wherever. Be sure to add to it whenever you hear about a good book, online or in person. Keep a running list, and cross out the ones you read.  
  • Tech trick: create a Gmail account for your book list, and email the address every time you hear about a good book. Now your inbox will be your reading list. When you’ve read a book, file it under “Done”. If you want, you can even reply to the message (to the same address) with notes about the book, and those will be in the same conversation thread, so now your Gmail account is your reading log too.

  • Find a quiet place. Find a place in your home where you can sit in a comfortable chair (don’t lay down unless you’re going to sleep) and curl up with a good book without interruptions. There should be no television or computer near the chair to minimize distractions, and no music or noisy family members/roommates. If you don’t have a place like this, create one.

  • Reduce television/Internet. If you really want to read more, try cutting back on TV or Internet consumption. This may be difficult for many people. Still, every minute you reduce of Internet/TV, you could use for reading. This could create hours of book reading time.

  • Read to your kid. If you have children, you must, must read to them. Creating the reading habit in your kids is the best way to ensure they’ll be readers when they grow up … and it will help them to be successful in life as well. Find some great children’s books, and read to them. At the same time, you’re developing the reading habit in yourself … and spending some quality time with your child as well.

  • Keep a log. Similar to the reading list, this log should have not only the title and author of the books you read, but the dates you start and finish them if possible. Even better, put a note next to each with your thoughts about the book. It is extremely satisfying to go back over the log after a couple of months to see all the great books you’ve read.

  • Go to used book shops. My favorite place to go is a discount book store where I drop off all my old books (I usually take a couple of boxes of books) and get a big discount on used books I find in the store. I typically spend only a couple of dollars for a dozen or more books, so although I read a lot, books aren’t a major expense. And it is very fun to browse through the new books people have donated. Make your trip to a used book store a regular thing.

  • Have a library day. Even cheaper than a used book shop is a library, of course. Make it a weekly trip.

  • Read fun and compelling books. Find books that really grip you and keep you going. Even if they aren’t literary masterpieces, they make you want to read — and that’s the goal here. After you have cultivated the reading habit, you can move on to more difficult stuff, but for now, go for the fun, gripping stuff. Stephen King, John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Nora Roberts, Sue Grafton, Dan Brown … all those popular authors are popular for a reason — they tell great stories. Other stuff you might like: Vonnegut, William Gibson, Douglas Adams, Nick Hornby, Trevanian, Ann Patchett, Terry Pratchett, Terry McMillan, F. Scott Fitzgerald. All excellent storytellers.

  • Make it pleasurable. Make your reading time your favorite time of day. Have some good tea or coffee while you read, or another kind of treat. Get into a comfortable chair with a good blanket. Read during sunrise or sunset, or at the beach.

  • Blog it. One of the best ways to form a habit is to put it on your blog. If you don’t have one, create one. It’s free. Have your family go there and give you book suggestions and comment on the ones you’re reading. It keeps you accountable for your goals.

  • Set a high goal. Tell yourself that you want to read 50 books this year (or some other number like that). Then set about trying to accomplish it. Just be sure you’re still enjoying the reading though — don’t make it a rushed chore.

  • Have a reading hour or reading day. If you turn off the TV or Internet in the evening, you could have a set hour (perhaps just after dinner) when you and maybe all the members of your family read each night. Or you could do a reading day, when you (and again, your other family members if you can get them to join you) read for practically the whole day. It’s super fun.

How to Improve Reading Habits

“The greatest gift is the passion for reading.
It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites,
it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind.
It is a moral illumination.” — Elizabeth Hardwick

Reading is a passion. Reading is a hobby. Reading is a habit. Reading is a skill. Once you get hooked to reading, the time spent on reading books will become your favourite activity. Like any other skill,
reading habit can also be improved. There are no hard and fast rules to improve reading habits. Every reader has his/her own way to improve this habit.

Make yourself Comfortable :Reading improves concentration. Also concentration is needed while reading. So whenever we are reading any books we should make ourselves comfortable in a chair or on our bed so that we can concentrate on the book we are reading. We should cherish the content we are reading and for that to happen it is important that we are choose a comfortable position for ourselves. I personally prefer to lay on an easy-chair or rest my back on a pillow in bed and then read. I am not saying that sitting or laying the most comfortable position as it can vary from person to person. I have friends who stroll while they read. Just make yourself comfortable while reading.

Buy books with pictures : If you are new to reading and find yourself lost in the ocean of words then prefer to buy books which have some pictures or pictorial representation of the story or the content you are reading. Basically the pictures will give you a brief idea about the content of the books. Your natural inquisitive nature will tend to know more about the pictures and as a result you will start reading and as you read you will try to relate the contents to the picture. This will also help you to improve your imagination skill.

Read Regularly : Like any other habit it is important that you should read regularly to improve your reading skill. If you are very disciplined then you can make a routine and allot one hour of time every day for reading books. If you do not have a regular routine schedule then try to read at any moment. Don’t always depend on story books for improving reading habits. If you are very busy or have a hectic schedule, try to read the entire newspaper every morning. This will not only help you to improve your reading skill but will make you aware of the current affairs and increase your vocabulary.

Read aloud : I have personally felt that sometimes when our concentration is low, then after reading a paragraph I realize that I have not understood the meaning of paragraph. When you are improving your reading skill, it means that you are reading fast and also understanding the meaning of the sentences at the same time. You should not revisit the lines to understand the lines. But it do happens that due to low concentration or tough vocabulary, we have to read the paragraph more than once to understand the meaning. In this scenario, I would personally prefer to read the sentences ALOUD. Actually when we read silently, we read faster than usual. But when we read aloud, we pause and read a bit slow. This helps our brain to understand the meaning. Reading aloud does not mean that your neighbours can hear you but you can murmur the sentence in your own.

Buy books : To improve the habit of reading it is important that you should improve your habit of buying books.

Gift Books : Remember that books are one of the finest gifts you can give. Neither do they wear away nor do their value depreciate. With time value of a book increases. When I was a kid, I used to gift my friends books with my pocket money. I used to buy the books a week before the occasion. I used to read the book before wrapping it in gift paper.  Now whenever I buy books as gifts, I prefer to buy 2 books so that I can have a copy for myself .

Set Target : When reading books, you can set a target for yourself seeing the number of pages to be read. Gradually you can increase your target and judge your improvement.

Visit Library : Be a member of the local library. Visit atleast once on a week. You will get diversified books in library. This will help you to choose from varied range of topics and you can find out the topic which interests you the most.
Always have a book around : Try to have a book around you always. If you have any waiting time during any work, try to read a few pages from the book. I personally keep a small short story book in my hand bag. When I am in a taxi or flight, I try to complete atleast a story. Reading books while travelling shortens my journey. I don’t feel that I am travelling for a long time. I also read while cooking. Sometimes when we are boiling or frying or making gravy, we have 10-15 min of free time. I try to read the newspaper during this time. Newspaper have articles ranging from 5 lines to 500 lines. Depending upon the time you are free while cooking you can choose what to read.
A good reading habit can become an addiction which will enhance your knowledge, vocabulary, concentration, IQ, analytical skill and once you have mastered this skill you will never complain about loneliness.