The average person reads fewer than six books per year, and according to studies, 40% of people in the Western world didn't read any books last year at all. But reading is one of the best things you can do. It actually makes you smarter – you get knowledge from the book, but reading also makes your brain work better.
It's said readers have a higher EQ – an emotional quotient – so they're more socially and emotionally savvy and able to cope with the world. Some people think it goes deeper than that – the writer William Slone says in fiction, you can meet yourself and understand yourself better: "Tell me about me. I want to be more alive. Give me me".
1. Make a List Keep a list you can access easily. [erhaps use the "Want to Read" function on Goodreads, set up a Pinterest or an Evernote, or even just scribble a list down on a piece of paper and stick it in your back pocket. That way, you won't find yourself not knowing what to do at the bookshop, or online gazing at an empty search bar.
2. Do it By the Book
Have two rules – never read more than one book at a time, and finish every book you read. If you read five books at once, you'll lose track, you'll lose interest, and it will take you an eternity to get through them. Rule number two is about sticking at it and developing a mindset of achieving what you've set out to do. In saying this, use your judgement. If it really is woeful, don't waste your time on it.
3. Take Notes While reading, take notes about your favourite parts. It will help you engage with the text more, meaning you'll end up more committed to what you're reading.
4. Do it Fast Try learning the art of speed reading. There are plenty of classes and books on the topic, but try a few basic techniques like using a pointer or your finger, reading without subvocalising (using a voice inside your head), and practice increasing your speed a little each time you sit down.
5. Plan For It Develop a reading ritual. Get up half an hour earlier and make this your special reading time, or devote every lunchtime to reading. You can even make your reading ritual super fancy – brew a cup of herbal tea, sit down with a chocolate biscuit, or even buy a special fluffy reading pillow. You can even plan for a day when you'll sit down, get comfy, and do nothing but read.
6. Make Use of Spare Moments Carry your book with you wherever you go. Downtime and waiting is something most of us contend with. So, instead of playing on your iPhone and texting your mates, whip out your copy of Pride and Prejudice and read three or four pages instead.
7. Wean off Social Media – Even a Little Try to cut down on time-wasters. Our phones are perhaps the worst offenders. Turn it off, especially while you're reading. Reconsider the amount of time you spend on Facebook and Twitter. Reduce the hours of mindless web surfing. With all that stimulation gone, your mind will find reading literature a lot more appealing.
8. Listen and Learn Audio books are another option. Shop around – some readers are better than others and you'll be attracted to certain voice types more than others. Audible has a great service and sometimes offer very cheap audio books. Listening to books takes practice however – you'll need to learn to concentrate and not get distracted by other tasks at hand.
9. Don't be Faithful
Read widely. If you've only been reading historical fiction for the past 10 years, try some fantasy or biography. If you've only been reading heavy philosophical texts, try something more light hearted. Don't run the risk of boredom.
10. Try that Hot New Thing
Read a new release. It's fantastic to read the classics, but there is something tremendously fun about getting swept along with what's huge right now. Reading what's at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers List, or following along with everyone getting hysterical over The Life of Pi or The Fault in Our Stars makes you feel part of the modern book community. It's great for making conversation at parties too.
Remember that reading is enjoyable. Don't treat it like a task. Cultivate a calm and restful approach to reading, and you'll notice you gravitate more towards it.