No desire, no time. For a long time, those were my murderous arguments when it came to reading books. After all, as a screen worker, I’ve been busy with letters all day, and you’re glad to be able to sit comfortably on the couch after work and let Netflix shower you with it.
But what remained in the back of the mind was the desire for more general education. After more variety beyond the news feed from Facebook and more balance from my job in the fast-moving media industry. I was always plagued by a bad conscience. So I ordered an interesting-sounding book from Amazon and made up my mind to read more immediately – and it failed miserably.
Finally read more books: this is how it works
It took me weeks for the three-hundred-page “100 Dollar Startup” and months for longer novels. Often I didn’t read at all for six months. Again and again I caught myself with the iPhone in my trouser pocket becoming more interesting after a few minutes than the book I was reading. So I didn’t enjoy reading. Due to constant interruptions, I soon fell back into my old habits. In the meantime I know: As with all good intentions, success does not depend solely on will, but also on organization. As with jogging, you have to create an environment that you are happy to return to. Just as preparation for a marathon begins with a light training plan, good shoes and a nice running route, the right conditions for reading must also be created.
1. Kill your smartphone
To be able to read more books at all, we must first get rid of the things that are holding us back. And that includes – believe it or not – especially your smartphone. You probably spend a lot of time every day, bored, scrolling through the news feeds on Facebook and Instagram, responding to Whatsapp messages or watching YouTube videos. Often you will also pick up your smartphone without knowing what you are actually looking for. An enormous time waster. According to a report by Quartz, US citizens spend an average of 608 hours a year on social networks .
608 hours a year – during this time, according to the portal, theoretically over 200 books can be read at normal reading speed. In practice, you should silence your smartphone when you pick up a book. That means: flight mode on and off with it in the farthest corner of the drawer!
2. Read on an e-book reader
Die-hard book fans will surely contradict me on this point. Partly for good reason: The slightly musty smell of paper, the velvety spine of the book, the sound of turning the pages – all of this makes reading a normal book an experience. But e-book readers like the Kindle Paperwhite * or Tolino Shine are also great inventions. Especially since they make it easier for those who don’t like reading to get started. E-book readers offer space for thousands of books, weigh much less than any tome at around 150 grams and one battery charge lasts for weeks. Compared to regular books, e-books arealso cheaper and protected from dirt and water. Thanks to the integrated reading light, e-book readers are perfect for on the go – the most important tip for more reading time.
3. Always take a book with you when you leave the house
Regardless of whether you take the tram to the office in the morning, have a doctor’s appointment or your train is delayed again: Instead of fooling around on your smartphone during this time, you can simply pick up your book. Ten or 20 minutes are enough to complete entire chapters. It is not always easy at first, and you may find it pointless to close a book after a few minutes. But extrapolated to a whole working week, you will quickly notice a great reading progress. So: Carry your e-book reader (or normal book) with you as reliably as your front door key.
4. Schedule fixed reading times
You can also read more books at home without having to forego other nice things like Netflix or computer games. Get up earlier before work so that you can read a book for at least 30 minutes beforehand. Nonfiction books in particular are ideal for this. It’s a great feeling to come to the office in the morning and have already learned something. You can also read in a targeted manner after work. An hour before dinner, for example. Depending on your marital status and other obligations, this can only be certain days of the week.
5. Create the right atmosphere
It’s dark in the apartment, your feet are cold, you don’t have a snack to hand – who wants to read a book in peace? Therefore, before each reading unit at home, create an atmosphere in which you feel comfortable. For example, turn on your heating, put on warm socks and make yourself a hot tea. Make sure that the lighting is pleasant, even if all e-book readers nowadays have a backlight. My tip: one or two candles and a string of lights. You don’t believe how much easier it is to read then.
6. Start with one book a month
It’s like all New Year’s resolutions: Without measurable goals, habits cannot be changed in the long run. So instead of just telling yourself that you want to “read more”, you should define a challenging but realistic annual target. As with jogging, the following applies: first start slowly, then increase steadily.
So how about twelve books in the first year? Maybe that sounds like a lot to you now, but in months, that’s just about a single book. This can be done at the start for every reading grumpy. Especially since it doesn’t have to be a jack of all trades of the caliber Ken Follett. It’s okay to limit yourself to books with 200-300 pages. You will very quickly get your first sense of achievement and notice how you enjoy reading again. With a little discipline, you can even exceed your annual goal. Two years ago, I started just such a one-book-a-month challenge . After twelve books in the first year, there were already 21 books in the second year .
7. Always buy two books at once
I smiled at this tip for a long time. Because I am not only a former grumpy reader, but also a little saver. The sense of spending money on two books at once, when I only read one book anyway, didn’t immediately become apparent to me. However, I’m smarter now.
It can be very beneficial to have two or three more books on hand. First of all, there are no long pauses between new books. The longer you allow yourself to buy a new one after the end of a book, the greater the risk of falling back into old habits. Second, there is the chance to read books of different genres in parallel. There are supposed to be people who prefer to read a non-fiction book in the morning and a fantasy novel in the evening.
8. Don’t torment yourself through bad books
Have you just finished 30 pages and are you already tormenting yourself? Put the book aside! Immediately! Yes, honestly. A bad reading experience is quite normal, and just as there are boring series on Netflix, there are also books that are neither entertaining nor educational to some people. Nevertheless, many people beat their way through the brains of a book to the last page. A mistake, because: If you constantly read against your inner will, you lose the fun and motivation to read more books.
9. Share your book recommendations with others
Many people believe that reading is a lonely hobby. But that’s not true. Just as you can tell friends about a great vacation or a fun event at the office, you can also share your reading experiences with others. This is extremely important so that you keep the most important insights from a non-fiction book in mind. Books are also a great topic for small talk, because only 13 percent of the German population doesn’t read at all . You can also exchange ideas with like-minded people via online communities such as Lovelybooks or Goodreads and take part in joint reading rounds. All of this also promotes reading motivation – and steadily improves your general education.
PS: By my own estimate, I will have read around 25 books by the end of 2019. That’s still ridiculously little compared to real bookworms, but as you can see, I’m steadily improving. And the most important thing: It’s fun and my general knowledge increases noticeably. You can read about the books I read last year in my One Book a Month Challenge posting on Facebook.