Next to working out and eating healthy, an effective reading habit often has a spot on most people’s to-do lists or resolutions.
While a good read helps you learn, clear your mind and relax, reading is not always an easy thing to stick to.
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.
-George R. R. Martin
Poor Reading Habits; What to Avoid
In order to develop good reading habits, you first have to stop, analyze and drop the things that are preventing you from maintaining a reading habit. We are all guilty of bad reading habits at one point or another, knowingly or unknowingly.
For better apprehension, here are poor reading habits that you should avoid;
Judging a book by its cover
If you must judge a book, use the synopsis at the back of the book. Do not let a pretty, eclectic or compelling cover conclude that a book is great and vice versa. One of my favorite books’ cover is designed with just plain text; not attractive at all. You can also read the first few pages to help you decide.
Reading multiple books at once
This is a reading habit I am guilty of. “I watch several TV series at once, so what’s different when it comes to books?”
The problem comes in when you take longer to finish a book, thus ending up with several pending reads. In some rare cases you can also get characters and plots mixed up, which is just wrong in so many levels.
Poor reading posture
If you start reading a book and get tired after a few pages, you probably have a poor reading posture. Whether its reading while lying on the bed, standing or sitting in an uncomfortable chair, this bad reading habit not only hinders effective reading but also strains parts of your body such as the eyes, neck, limbs and spine.
You also want to make notes while reading and this could be impossible with a poor posture. Find a comfortable seat that allows you to sit straight-backed, and hold the book at a considerable angle; preferably around 60 degrees.
Some of us don’t like suspense. Yes, I have done this before. But if you are reading a thriller or a romantic novel, doesn’t the fun lie in the suspense? Try guessing who the killer might be as you read the book. Reading the end first just sucks out all the fun and the whole read ceases to be thrilling.
When you pick up a book, your goal is usually entertainment or getting informed. When you flip through pages you end up wasting your time as you might miss important information in the pages you skipped. Sometimes you have to go back and refer to the pages you skipped.
When you feel the need to flip through, chances are you are tired and it’s time to take a break. That, or you are just not into that book…which also means it’s time to let go.
Ignoring hard vocabulary
Ignoring hard vocabulary may be the worst reading habit around. Have a dictionary around, use the internet; just don’t ignore a hard word. You can also note the word down and look it up later. This is how you find yourself using words like ‘adumbrate’ and people are like, “I’m sorry what?”
Reading around distractions
This is not impossible, but it is among bad reading habits. You will find yourself turning pages, but after a while, the only thing you will remember is that your aunt Susan had nice stories.
For utmost productivity, find a quiet reading place, free from any kind of distractions that may hinder your full concentration.
Ways to Develop a Reading Culture
To cultivate a reading habit, try the following tips, that will ensure you read your way to a smarter and clearer future;
Determine your reading goal
Find out and clearly state your goal for reading. This is what you aim to achieve in your reading journey. You could set a number of books that you want to have read within a specific time, say a year. Setting a goal; spiritual, academic or relationship will motivate you to read and also guarantee that you are reading for a cause.
Select your favorite genres
The bad news is that you will not like every book that falls in your favorite genre. The good news is that today there is a book about everything you can possibly think of. So switch things up and expand your list. Personally, I have been finding myself reading broadly these days. Self-help books are my favorite, and with the vast number of celebrity memoirs, the list to choose from is long.
Always carry a book
To start an effective reading habit, you should always have a book with you. Now, I know that sometimes you are packing lightly and a book just means extra baggage. But hey! We are living in a digital era. Most, if not all of my books are e-books. We also have audiobooks. With this you only need your phone, which I’m sure you take everywhere. So this means you can have not one, but up to 50 books all at once everywhere you go.
Join/ Start a book club.
This will keep you motivated to read, simply because you must discuss it with the members of your book club. It should be noted that your book club can consist of even just two people. Having a reading partner can be fun, as you also get to hear a different perspective from your own, about the book. A book club/partner not only motivates you to read, but also ensures that you have someone with whom you are accountable to. The club can be face-to-face or online.
Read for fun
It is not a punishment. Don’t read because you have to, but because you want to. Just like working out, or any other “hard” thing in life, make it fun. Take it like your favorite movie; Wait, nowadays you can also read your favorite movie, because most are based on books. Don’t string on a book for weeks if you don’t find it interesting. It is important to know when to let go.
Set a daily timeline
Challenge yourself to reach your set goals. Set a specific time; say 10-15 minutes a day or 20 pages a day. This will ensure that you are consistent in your reading as you look forward to achieve your daily goal. This will also ensure that you do not read too little nor experience burnout.
Make a reading list
Do research and come up with your own must-reads. Do not overdo it. Just start small and your list will get longer with time. In your list, include fun books and those that you think you should really read.
Benefits of Developing Effective Reading Habits
There are significant benefits that come with the best reading habits. From aiding memory and retention to improved linguistic skills, habitual reading guarantees that you stand out from the rest in the following ways;
The more you read the more words you come along. While reading will ensure you have a wide range of new vocabulary at your disposal, it is advisable to look up the words and learn the correct pronunciation. Reading books alone does not always guarantee you will master correct pronunciation, so it is up to you to do some homework.
Better writing skills
Like improved vocabulary, Practice Practice makes Perfect! Exposure to well-written works is bound to make one a better writer. Reading will teach you how to express yourself in writing, by analyzing different writing styles and genres.
It is possible to get lost in books. A good book acts as a travelling vessel and or a great source of motivation, causing you to remain calm and forget the world for a moment, which is allowed.
Reading has been linked to lowering the chances of certain illnesses, like Alzheimer’s and dementia. This is because reading exercises your brain thus aiding memory and retention.
Everyone knows that books are a great source of knowledge. Great people like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zucherberg all have one thing in common; they read. Adopt the reading habits of successful people and you might just be the next.
Improves focus and concentration
Between social media and our everyday life, it is easy to lose your focus. When you set aside a few minutes to read and completely immerse your attention in a book, you manage to dwarf the world around you. This will in turn reflect in other areas and activities in your life, making you more productive in everything you do.
When you solve a murder mystery before you finish a book, or predict who gets the girl, that’s when you know you have crazy detective skills. Reading and critiquing a book gives you the ability to keenly analyze details and also equips you with problem solving abilities.
I truly hope that these tips will help you start and stick to a reading culture. So go ahead and cheat on your cell phone with a book once in a while.