Updated: Jan 19
Through the last couple of years, reading amongst the young has reached an all-time low with less and less people checking out books every day. And the explanation for this is surprisingly simple to understand.
In my opinion, there’s two main reasons:
The first, the evolution and accessibility to easier to consume media in the last thirty years have made books somewhat unappealing in comparison. Movies and TV shows are readily available in tons of different streaming services at just a click away, while video games have evolved to the point where new and old games alike can be played almost anywhere, including your phone. And speaking of your phone, having an electronic brick that can do almost anything you could ever want in your pocket pretty much works as the ultimate source of entertainment.
All of this combined has pretty much killed any mainstream appeal that books could have today.
And then the second reason is more societal, mainly because of things like school. The education system and society in general have made reading such a pain in the goddamn ass that nobody wants to do it anymore.
Oh, what’s that? You want to read Lord of the Rings? Well, guess what Bitch! That book is stupid, instead you have to read this five hundred year old book nobody talks about anymore!
Oh, what’s that? You want to read at your own pace? Oh, you stupid dumbass! You can’t do that! You gotta read the book at least five separate times, take notes and memorize every single minute detail that doesn’t matter like what hand the main character wiped his ass with in page 53!
And it’s not only that. Constantly people my age are antagonized for not reading. Being told that we’re stupid for not reading, or that our pace is too fast for the slow and intellectual process that is experiencing a book. Every time somebody tells me this shit I feel like throwing all my literature out the goddamn window from the sheer insult to my intelligence!
With stupid nonsense like this, you can’t really blame people for not wanting to read.
But I think most from my generation don’t really like not reading. We all want to do it; it’s just been ruined by modern time to such an extent where the act of picking up a book can feel daunting and overwhelming. Even political sometimes. There’s a certain pressure involved. Pressure to understand it, to read the whole thing, to be able to afterwards write a three page essay praising the author for his incredibly accurate portrayal of the social conflict present in London in 1875.
Personally, I’ve been a somewhat avid reader for some time now. But it wasn’t until recently that I’ve found myself discovering a new sense of what reading is. And because of it, I’ve been reading a lot more often and feel like I’ve truly grasped what it means to read a book.
With this experience, I think there are certain mistakes that people make when picking up a book for the first time. Mistakes that might lead them to never finish or even start the book.
And this is what I want to highlight here. The purpose of this post is to give you a few tips and ideas of what you can do to make reading more interesting and hence, read more books. Of course, out of your own volition and not because some fucking stupid-ass boomer told you to.
These are some mistakes you might be making when trying to read and how to become an avid reader.
We Don’t Need Television As Long As We Have Imagination
Movies and TV have definitely impacted the literary scene in a drastic way. Especially in the way we read the books themselves.
One mistake I often did when I was young was to imagine every book I read as if it was a movie. From the camera angles to actors and sets. Since it was really the only thing I had to grab onto, I didn’t know how else I was supposed to imagine each scene. And this is something I kept doing until not that long ago.
But the problem here is very simple, if you’re going to imagine the book as a movie, why not just watch a movie then? It’s kind of contradictory when you think about it. This becomes even more jarring when you read a book after having already seen the motion picture adaptation and imagine it with the actors and sets from the movie.
However, the thing about books is that they’re not made to be witnessed like with films. Because a camera can never create what can be conjured by the mind.
Instead of viewing each scene from an outsider’s view looking in. Try instead to let your imagination run wild and come up with everything yourself. What the characters look like, what the places look like. You can even go a step beyond and imagine how the place smells and sounds. Even insert yourself into the role of the main character and make it feel like you’re experiencing everything firsthand.
The thing about books is that not everything is explained or obviously laid out like with TV. But that’s the whole point. Your imagination is what fills in those holes. Which in turn, makes the act of reading a much more unique experience.
Next time you read a book, instead of just seeing the scene like you would before this. Try and feel the scene. The ambience, the presence of the characters, the impact certain words have on the narrative. Because once you do so, you will attain a level of immersion in the story that is borderline impossible to do with any other media. And you’ll probably also start to become more engaged with books as a whole.
Now That I Do Know It, I Shall Do My Best To Forget It
When you’re in school you’re told to read the books they consider to be the best.
When you’re with someone who genuinely wants you to read, he’ll tell you to read whatever you want.
And now I’m telling you to not do either of those things.
When picking what books to read a lot of us will gravitate toward something already familiar to you. Often in the form of a book who’s motion picture adaptation you’ve already seen. This is again, a pretty big mistake.
When you’re reading for the first time, it’s crucial that you’re reading something completely new to you. Or at least, something that you still don’t have a full grasp as to what it’s about.
Having expectations of what a book will be like from previous experiences with the same story in other medias won’t allow your brain to fully explore the narrative. You’ll end up imagining everything in the way you already expect it to look.
Say you’re reading Harry Potter after having already watched the movies, you’re gonna imagine Harry as Daniel Radcliff, Hogwarts as the set featured in the films. And your imagination will never be able to truly run wild.
Knowing what happens in a story already can also affect your engagement with it. Cause unless the original source is drastically different to the adaptation, you’re already gonna know everything how everything goes and your curiosity as to what happens next won’t really be touched.
I’m not saying you can never read the original version of a story who’s adaptation you loved. But if you’re starting out, then reading something completely new to you is the keyway to go.
I’ve experimented with many different ways and techniques to balance how much I read in one day. Some ideas include reading a specific amount of pages a day (usually something like 30-50 pages), dividing the total number of pages by 7 and reading that amount each day (that way you’ll finish the book in a week), and simply reading up to a certain point of the story on a case by case basis.
I’ve tried all of these out at least once and I’ve found that the one that works best for me is to simply read as much as I want, whenever I want. Usually using chapters as marks for when to stop reading.
But of course, this doesn’t mean you have to do it the same way I do. Experimenting and finding the balance of reading that works best for you is something that will be necessary to establish healthy reading habits. You can start by trying out the ways I mentioned earlier or do a bit of your own research and go from there.
Just remember not to burn yourself out or read way more than you need to. Reading is great, but like all things, it needs to be consumed in moderation.
If you can get these three things down, then I think you’re pretty much good to go in terms of reading. But there are still a few miscellanies tips I wanna give that I think will help you out even more if you’re interested.
Keep your books in a place where you can see them. It doesn’t have to be a bookshelf or anything fancy, just any area that you pass through often that allows you to see the books.
Don’t put them in a drawer or closet or anywhere outside of your field of vision.
Seeing the books so often on your daily routine will give you more of an incentive to actually read them. It also gives you an idea of what you have in store for you and what you can look forward too.
With the last point in mind, make sure that the books you have in your constant line of sight are pleasant or appealing to look at. Remember that the phrase don’t judge a book by its cover is complete horseshit and only exists to excuse bad book designs.
A lazy cover is a pretty good sign of a lazy book. And the more times you see this book in your day, the least you’re going to want to read it because subconsciously and consciously you’re going to start associating it with the quality of the words themselves.
Basically, don’t invest in books that you think are physically unappealing to look at.
Don’t stress yourself too hard on finishing the books you read. If you’re reading a book that you thought was going to be worthwhile but ended up being really boring, don’t wait until you finish to start other books you might enjoy a lot more.
Though, this isn’t to say that you should stop reading any book that doesn’t immediately grab your attention.
Treat books like any other form of entertainment like TV shows and video games. Some you love and experience all the way through. Others however you might watch the first season, realize it’s not for you and drop it. Always try to find a balance.
If you still have trouble getting into reading. Then let me give you some ways you can ease yourself into the reading process. This is actually somewhat how I got into reading novels myself.
There’s this video game genre known as the Visual Novel, and it is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a game with such an ungodly amount of text that it’s pretty much like a book.
Of course, it’s far from the same thing and not at all a replacement. But playing these types of games could help you to get used to reading a lot in a manner that might be more appealing to you.
This also goes for other similar media like graphic novels or tabletop games.
If you want an extremely specific way I recommend, one thing you can do is play a game called The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, a spinoff of the Ace Attorney series that takes place during the early 20th century and more importantly, features one of the biggest names in literature with Sherlock Holmes. And not only is Sherlock in the game, but there’s also tons of references and even major story beats inspired by the old Arthur Conan Doyle stories. If you finish the game, chances are you’ll be curious to learn more of the character and where he’s from, so from there you can start reading the classic novels and short stories which are drastically different from the game and won’t affect your expectations.
Of course, this is only my ultra-specific suggestion and really, it’s all about finding the way that works for you.
If after this post you’re feeling inspired to get some reading done, then here are a few fiction novels that I whole heartedly recommend for your first few reads:
1984 by George Orwell: https://www.amazon.com/Nineteen-Eighty-Four-Quoates-George-Orwell-ebook/dp/B08SLS7BZ9/ref=sr_1_1?crid=82BPDNI8AKV8&dchild=1&keywords=1984+george+orwell&qid=1631203688&sprefix=1984+%2Caps%2C241&sr=8-1
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle: https://www.amazon.com/Study-Scarlet-Illustrated-Arthur-Conan-ebook/dp/B09FJ43VT5/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1R8G04K8NNOHK&dchild=1&keywords=a+study+in+scarlet&qid=1631203721&sprefix=a+study+%2Caps%2C195&sr=8-1
Normal People by Sally Rooney: https://www.amazon.com/Normal-People-Novel-Sally-Rooney-ebook/dp/B07FS25XTW/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2URFO3LVIDQPE&dchild=1&keywords=normal+people+sally+rooney&qid=1631203755&sprefix=normal+people+%2Caps%2C220&sr=8-1
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess: https://www.amazon.com/Clockwork-Orange-Anthony-Burgess-ebook/dp/B0999PN9HM/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=a+clockwork+orange+book&qid=1631203776&sr=8-1
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