As the clock begins to tick-down the final days of 2018 many adults around the world will begin the process of creating resolutions for the new year. Lists might include everything from weight loss, to organization, to places to travel. Yet one important category that I fear is getting overlooked by American adults as they sit down to create their resolutions each year is reading.
We often hear about the countless benefits there are in reading for children. However, reading continues to reap significant benefits for adults as well. The point of this blog is not to recount them all but if you'd like to read a good summary of the benefits of reading, see this article that was published just a couple months ago from LifeHack.org (click here).
One aspect that article doesn't speak about is the benefit of reading from a Christian worldview. As Christians, we should seek to be informed and intelligent members of society. The old saying goes, "Readers are leaders," and we can certainly see this true throughout world and American history. But if we think in the context of church history, we see MANY heroes of faith that were all avid readers: Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, Jonathan Edwards, and Amy Carmichael, just to name a few (consequently they were all great writers and communicators too). Additionally, as we increase our attention span, vocabulary, and memorization by reading more, this can also aid in our Bible reading, study, and memorization as we seek to become better students of the Bible with each passing year.
If you were already considering increasing your reading in 2019 or, maybe you are interested in doing so now, here are 6 practical steps to getting started!
1) Set a realistic and attainable goal.
Like most things in life, you have to know where you are going in order to get there. The first step to increasing your reading is to set a realistic and attainable goal. In my humble opinion, the best place to begin is by committing to read one book per month. If even this seems too lofty a goal for you, I'd suggest making your aim reading one book every 6 weeks.
2) Start small.
If reading is completely new to your routine, you will quickly see how short your attention span is! The important thing is to start reading in small increments and build up to longer periods of reading. Just as an aspiring runner would never set out to run one hour their first time out, an aspiring reader should not expect to be able to read for very long periods of time right out of the gate. When starting out, set a timer for 15-20 minutes daily. Put away all distractions and read until the timer goes off. Once you have this down, add a second period in the day where you sit down for 15-20 minutes and read. Once you have that down (and are starting to get in deep to a good book) you will begin to find that the time flies by when you read!
3) Be willing to sacrifice other pastimes.
We only have 24 hours in a day. By committing to increase your reading you will most likely need to sacrifice something else in order to read more. Maybe it's veggie out time while your child naps, maybe it's a tv show, maybe it's less time on social media. Whatever it is, consider again the benefits of reading and figure out if whatever pastime you are considering eliminating reaps the same benefits. I personally don't watch any tv...and I don't miss it. At all. I would encourage you to do the same!
4) Get creative.
There are so many great options in our day and age for reading. From physical books, to books on e-readers, to audio books, there are many different ways to read. Try them all! Figure out what works best for you. I personally can't do e-readers. It just doesn't work for me. But one way I am able to get through so many books per year is through Amazon's audio book app, Audible. I am on track to complete 48 books this year, 20 of those books have been completed through Audible...that's a little less than half! I have had to experience some trial and error with what genre of books I am able to truly digest via audio vs. actual reading (meaning, if you are listening to a book, you have to make sure your mind is engaged and attentive otherwise, it's just white noise in the background) but once I nailed that down, I now enjoy and retain what I "read" via audio books.
The point is, get creative, try different ways of reading and find what works best for you. I do suggest however, that you make it a point to have a good portion of your reading be done with a physical book. Many of the benefits of reading come only when putting your eyes to paper (or electronic paper).
5) Read different genres.
Reading different genres is not only good for "expanding your horizons" but it can also keep reading fresh, exciting, and entertaining. This year my "Read" bookshelf includes everything from Classics, to Biographies, to Fantasy, to Fiction, to Theology, to Christian Living. By switching up what I am reading, it continues to keep reading new and intriguing.
6) Get in community with other readers.
Last, as with any good goal, it is important to get yourself some accountability and motivation. A great way to do this is by getting in community with other readers. One way I've loved doing this over the last 2 years is through the app, Goodreads. In Goodreads you can follow friends, see what they are reading, and then see their reviews of books upon their completion. Goodreads also allows you to create a goal for your reading and then it tracks your progress. You can have different "shelves" where you can track your progress on books you are currently reading, but also store titles of books you want to read, and books you have previously read. If you want to increase your reading in 2019, I definitely suggest hopping on this app (and while you're at it, make sure you friend me so we can connect there too)!
I've been an avid reader my whole life but in recent years I have become even more passionate about encouraging and helping others to become readers too. I hope 2019 is the year you commit to increasing your reading!
"But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short." - Jane Austen