The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I always wanted to be like Rory from “Gilmore Girls”, wearing a cute sweater and sipping coffee, glued to a book while looking like the main character. I wanted to be the girl who knew thousands of books and gave off an academic aesthetic. But, it felt like every time I picked up a book, I could not get myself to get past the first ten pages. While most kids were counting sheep to fall asleep, I was counting all of my dad’s Thomas Pynchon novels. He read To Kill A Mockingbird and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to me as bedtime stories. I was predisposed to love reading just as my family did, but it never came. I read some books as a child but not at an obsessive rate. As I got older, the only books I could read were the ones assigned to me in school (most of which I used Sparknotes for). Not having the attention span to sit down and read a book like my peers left me feeling inferior and honestly stupid. It wasn’t until this summer when I decided to face this problem: I gave myself the goal of reading three books by the end of the summer and to my surprise, I did and I loved it. So after years of hating reading, I began to love it, and here is how you can love it too.
- Stop Comparing Yourself To Others.
I realized most of my insecurity about not having the attention span to finish a book came from comparing myself to others. I would tell myself I was just lazy and something was wrong with me since everyone around me loved reading and I didn’t. I also often compared my taste to others, thinking “what they are reading is so academic and sophisticated and what I’m reading is so childish.” You have to remind yourself everyone learns differently and has different strengths which allow them to excel in other areas. Just because someone can finish a book in a day doesn’t mean you are any less intelligent. Another thing to remember is reading is for leisure and learning; it is supposed to be enjoyable. Don’t force yourself to read something because it seems “sophisticated” if you hate it. You are still working and expanding your mind every time you read. Be compassionate to yourself.
- Set The Mood.
I cannot stress this enough: your environment will make reading so much easier. As for me, I hate sitting and reading in silence. So, on my TV I will pull up a YouTube video of rain and fireplace sounds that usually have an ambient picture of a cozy cabin or a library and it immediately relaxes me. I also sometimes light a candle, turn on my fairy lights, and lay down with a glass of tea. This gives me enough noise and light to focus but also enough silence to feel comforted. Whether you like silence or jazz playing in the background, make your space comfortable and relaxing. A good drink and snack always help!
- Read What Interests You.
It took me so long to realize there are books about topics I actually like. Previously, I had tunnel vision and believed the only books that existed were academic books or books my dad liked, (which were also academic). As simple as it sounds, it is not hard to find something to read that interests you. I grew to love non-fiction because I love true crime and there are countless many true crime books. I also read books that are relevant to me and my experience such as Know My Name by Chanel Miller where she speaks about her experience as a sexual assault survivor. There are books to also help you in hard times! There are so many self-help books on productivity, money, grief, love, and any other topic you could think of. Find a book that speaks to you!
- Find Someone Who You Can Talk To About Books.
One of the biggest reasons I began reading this summer was because of my boyfriend’s sister, Cati. Before a trip, she told me how she began reading frequently and gave me a copy of Verity by Colleen Hoover (a book I could write another article about). Seeing her reading frequently inspired me to create a reading schedule and having her lend me this book kept me accountable. Since she had already read it, it made it more fun to read because I had someone to geek out with and someone who I could share the experience with. We also bought the same book and read it around the same time which continued to give me something to look forward to at the end. Sharing a book with someone not only strengthens that relationship, but also helps create a schedule and adds something more fun to reading.
- Create A Reading Schedule.
A reading schedule is probably the main thing that helped sustain my attention span. If you struggle with a short attention span, this tip is for you! I started off by reading 10 minutes a day. I would start a timer and if I was bored by the end of the 10 minutes then at least I had tried. If I was still interested, I would finish the chapter. 10 minutes became the perfect amount of time because it was short but still allowed me to feel accomplished. One good app which will help you build a schedule, send reminders, and even allow you to write down quotes is Bookly.
Whether you have always loved reading but school has made you hate it or you are looking for a way to discover a new hobby, there are many different ways to fall in love with reading.
The three books I read this summer were: