Reading seems to be one of those things that people either adore or they hate. For those who love to read, it’s usually because they’ve always been readers. For example, I’ve never not been into reading books. I give a lot of this credit over to J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter was life changing for me. Not only did it change the book industry, but it changed the lives of so many kids (and adults). However, I was ten when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. So while that series might have continued to encourage me on my reading journey, it’s not necessarily where it began.
Reading was always part of my nighttime routine when I was itty-bitty. There were always books around my house and before I could even read for myself, books were being read to me on a daily basis. This actually changed my entire life because I learned how to read at a very early age. I ended up starting school early, partially because of my reading capabilities. (I was only four when I started kindergarten!) Don’t worry though. Due to the universe needing to balance things out, I made up for it by graduating on a five year plan in college. Go figure!
Anyway, I would also regularly visit the library in downtown Dallas (my hometown). It was the place to go in the summertime because, if you didn’t already know this, Texas is hot! And the library was very well air conditioned. It was there that I discovered so many different types of novels. I found out what my interests were. I was given the opportunity to explore reading on my own, something I’ll always cherish.
However, not everyone is as fortunate. For many kids, reading is only shown to them in the classroom. Now, don’t get me wrong. We have major respect for teachers here at Sarah Scoop. Sarah herself was once a school teacher! That being said, teachers are there to educate. That sometimes makes reading not as much fun as it can be. Reading because you have to can be a whole different type of experience than reading because you want to. It becomes a chore that way. And if that’s your only experience with reading, there’s no chance you’ll enjoy reading when you grow up because you’ll always associate it with negative feelings.
I once read somewhere that a third of high school graduates haven’t read a book since school. I have no idea if this is true, but it doesn’t seem too unrealistic. If the only time you’ve read has been when someone made you do it, you’re not going to read when no one is there to tell you that you have to anymore.
There are plenty of reasons why someone might not enjoy reading. Regardless, that doesn’t mean they can’t ever enjoy it. Just because you’ve never been a reader of books for personal enjoyment doesn’t mean it’s too late for you. There are so many ways to get into reading. You might just need a little guidance!
If you’re not really a reader, but want to be, don’t go for the heavy hitters at first. Read short stories, essays, articles, whatever. Reading isn’t a pool. You don’t dive into the deep end straight away. You go in the shallow end and get comfortable. Find something that interests you and just go from there. Reading isn’t a race. It’s just… reading.
Give Yourself a Goal
I decided at the beginning of the year that I would read one book per month. That’s actually not that far of a reach for me (I read all the time these days), but giving myself that goal kept me interested and on pace. I’m competitive with myself, so if I set a goal like that, I’m going to go full out. What ended up happening was that there were some weeks where I didn’t read and then some where I couldn’t put my book down. But knowing that I had set up that challenge for myself helped me. It was a minimal goal that I knew I could keep up with.
Read What Interests You
Just because everyone’s obsessing over the latest YA novel doesn’t mean that you have to also. I hate it when people say, “Oh my gosh! How have you not read this?” You know why I haven’t read it yet? Because I don’t want to. Not everyone has to be interested in the same things. If you’re struggling to find your genre, I suggest going to a library. Check out genres you didn’t think you were even interested in. Look for books that no one has touched in ages. Check out the latest must-read. I don’t care. Just experiment! There’s no wrong way to figure things out here.
Take Influence From the Big Screen
I always think it’s so funny how so many books become movies or television shows. If there’s a show or movie you like, there’s a good chance it’s based on a book. If you’re obsessed with Game of Thrones, read the series! If you love Hamilton (not a movie, but still), then read the book that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write it. Love Gone Girl? That’s based on a book too! Not only that, but the author wrote the screenplay. Crazy, right? If those things interest you, there’s a good chance the book it’s based on will too.
Don’t Pressure Yourself
While everyone might be talking about how David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is “life changing” or whatever, it’s not something you should jump into quite yet. That book is insane and confusing and just… don’t do it. At least not yet. Don’t think of reading as having to do something the world expects of you. Read for yourself. My favorite novels are considered “middle grade” books. Meaning, my favorite books are those written for 10-12 year old kids. Who cares? So what if I’m not reading Tolstoy? I’m not reading for anybody but myself and neither should you. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. Just read.
“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” – J.K. Rowling
Look, I get it. Even to someone like me who absolutely loves to read, it can feel like a chore sometimes. However, I promise that’s all in your head! Reading can be a great thing for you! Studies have shown that reading reduces stress. It gives you the opportunity to escape your crazy world for a bit and just enjoy something else for awhile. And I know it might be difficult to start, but I promise it’s worth it. Just mess around a bit, see what works for you, and you’ll love reading in no time!