Rediscover a joy of reading.
This little series examining the journey of a reader has been a delight for me, and I hope it has been for you as well! In Part 1 my goal was to encourage you to be the guide who leads a child from a reluctant reader to an eager reader. In Part 2 my husband gave me a week off and shared with you his own journey from non-reader to book lover.
Today I want to encourage you to rekindle the joy in your reading journey!
Whether you’ve been a reader from childhood or you became a bibliophile later in life, you most likely have experienced—or will experience—a loss of the joy of reading. You’re not alone! I’ve been there and many people I know have been there as well.
What steals the joy?
I remember losing that joy in college. With so much to read for class and so many assignments on top of work and life and friends, I forgot that excitement for a while. It wasn’t until several years after graduation that I rediscovered the joy of reading.
My joy fades most often these days when I’m going through an extra busy season in life. When my “to do” list stretches longer than the day, I fall into the habit of laziness at night—when I do the majority of my reading.
What takes the place of reading?
Instead of reading myself to sleep, I fill that time with TV binging, mindless social media scrolling or simply passing out in bed.
Sure, there are times when we need to forgo reading that half a chapter and just fall asleep early. However, the screen options offer a poor substitute. I can testify that I sleep far better—less restless, fewer disruptive dreams, etc—when I read before bed rather than stare at a screen.
(Of course, there’s also the danger of dropping a phone on your face or accidentally “liking” something on Facebook that you don’t actually like when you fall asleep while scrolling. The fear is real, people!)
After a few nights of screen over book, the mindlessness has become habit; and I struggle to pick up a book again. The joy escapes me!
if you’ve experienced this feeling as well, perhaps these tips I’ve used in my own reading life will help you as well.
Pick up a lighter read.
You do not have to read War and Peace. Often when I have traversed a more challenging non-fiction book or meatier classic, I need a literary snack instead.
This doesn’t mean that modern novels are just fluff. Quite the contrary, many of them are equally as weighty as some thicker or older tomes. The difference typically lies in the narrative.
A simpler story-telling prose allows the mind to breathe a bit. After spending a few months ingesting volumes on historical time periods or homeschooling or writing, my mind wants to wade through the shallows of a girl’s coming of age or a young mother’s discovery of her husband’s hidden identity or a quest for the last dragon.
Maintain a variety in your reading and avoid boredom with books!
Try out a new genre while you’re at it. I recently checked out steampunk—something I still can’t give a ready definition for but know when I see…or read. Turns out, I kinda’ dig it!
Revisit a genre you’ve been missing. When I was a kid I DEVOURED Louis L’Amour westerns and Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark mysteries. I realized the other day I have not read any of those in a long, long time. I may have to take my own advice here!
Peruse old book reviews.
If you take notes in a book journal when you read and/or write reviews on books you complete, go back and read a few. When I do this, it reminds me how much I enjoy reading and shows me how much books teach me. Sometimes it reminds me of a book I wanted to read but never did.
Get reading recommendations.
Sometimes you just need a friendly nudge to a new book. Here are my favorite places for recommendations.
Your librarian knows books. And, chances are, she’d LOVE to help you find a new read or author or series. Chat with her—or him!—today!
Oh, how I love this site! Set up your profile with as much or as little personal info as you like. Then, start filling your shelves with books you’ve read or want to read.
Find your friends’ profiles—ahem! I’m on there and would love to call you “Friend!”—and see what they’re reading or have read. Review or at least rate the books you read, and Goodreads will generate book recommendations just for you. Follow your favorite authors and see what they’re reading!
Loved a book? Recommend it to a friend you know would like it. Your friends can send you recommendations as well.
Beware! Your “want-to-read” bookshelf will grow quicker than kudzu in the Carolinas!
Yes, you! Review that “want-to-read” shelf on Goodreads and move one over to your “currently reading” shelf.
Or, go shopping in your own home library. Chances are you haven’t read every book on your shelves.
You have reader friends—I know you do! Catch up with the ones whose reading styles are similar to yours and ask for their suggestions.
Ask your book club for their recommendations. Start a club if you don’t already have one or find one through your library.
Or, try out an online, no-pressure book club that’s all about recommending reads. May I suggest the Pelican Street Book Club on my Facebook group?!?! I post each Monday, but we chat throughout the week!
Reread your favorite book.
Not much restores the joy in reading more than rereading your favorite tale.
For me that would mean picking up my well-worn copy of The Hobbit (and maybe adding some more tape) or following along with Jane Eyre and her spirited independence.
Pick up a book and rebuild your reading habit.
Reading is like anything else we do—exercising, pursuing a hobby, learning a new language. It starts with a desire, a decision and a determination.
If you’re reading a blog post about reading, you’ve got the desire to read! Great start!
Now, decide that reading will be a priority for you. It will be something you do, not talk about doing.
You desire to make your decision come to be. So, choose to make reading a daily habit. When do you have the best opportunity to read? At night in bed? During the baby’s afternoon nap? On your commute to work (via audiobook if you’re behind the wheel)? When you first wake up while everyone else is still peacefully sleeping? Set aside the time and make it happen.
When I’m battling anxiety or depression, I may have to take this route right out of the gate and force myself to start reading again. But, once I get going, those dark clouds lift and the sun shines once more for me.
I hope you’ll join me in renewing our joy of reading. I’ll be immersing myself in a delightful book tonight. Sweet dreams!
What about you? Have you ever lost your reading joy? What stole it from you? What works for you to get back in a reading routine?