I love reading. I’m an English major, after all. But I’ll be honest—I also struggle with maintaining a pleasure-reading habit sometimes. I experience “reading-fatigue” often as a student. I read so much for classes. When the end of the day comes and I have time to pleasure-read, the lure of Netflix and the shame of my never-ending unread books pile win out again and again.
Last fall, I found myself in a reading slump and I discovered a few strategies that helped to build pleasure-reading back into my daily life.
1. Start small and be consistent.
Adjusting my expectations about how much I would read at a time was necessary. I started almost laughably small—just 5 minutes in the evenings before bed. No matter how tired I was or how much I already read that day, I could manage 5 minutes. Oftentimes, that 5 minutes turned into 10 or 20, but knowing that I only had to do 5 minutes tricked my sometimes reluctant brain into sitting down to the task at hand.
2. Change your schedule.
Maybe you’ve always been a bedtime reader (I know I was), but reading before bed can be challenging. Sometimes you’re just so tired by the end of the day. Consider changing your plan. Read for a few minutes in the morning, when you get home from work, or on your lunch break. Changing your routine can breathe new life into a reading habit.
3. Read something new.
If the novel you’ve been trying to get into isn’t working, set it aside. Try other styles and genres. I picked up a lot of poetry, memoir, and personal essays while I was building this back into my daily routine. Also, read the cheesy romance novel, sleuthy crime paperback, or angsty YA novel you’ve been eyeing. Shake off any pressure you feel to read something “high-brow” or “intellectual,” and just read something deliciously fun for a change.
4. Listen to something new.
Listening to audiobooks also became a staple of my reading life. Consider listening to the audio version of favorite childhood books (ahem . . . Harry Potter anyone?), the memoirs of fascinating people, or dramatized readings of classics. Audiobooks can be a fresh way to incorporate reading into your commute or workout.
5. Set a goal.
If you’re someone that likes a challenge, set a bigger goal for yourself. Try to read six books in six weeks, read 30 pages a day for 30 days, etc. Again, the idea is to develop consistency. When I did the six books in six weeks challenge, I chose my six books ahead of time and decided how many pages I would need to read in a day to meet my goal. Remember, it’s important to be specific and make a plan when you set these goals. Set yourself up for success.
6. Get inspired.
Follow living writers and see what books they are posting on their social media accounts. Ask for recommendations from friends. Research books that are coming out this year and mark your calendar. Building anticipation about a new book will catalyze your interest and you’ll likely be hooked from page one.
7. Create some community.
While I’m all here for a good old fashioned book club, creating community around reading in my life usually looks more like trading books among friends and family members. I read something I enjoy and pass it along to someone else. Now the same people will pass a book along to me when they finish.
8. Stop feeling guilty.
Nothing thwarts a pleasure reading habit like feeling bad about not keeping up with your pleasure reading habit. If you set a goal and miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Remember, you’re doing this because you love reading.
Now, find a fun book and start small. Happy reading, everyone!
Junior Student Advisor, 2019-2021
Rho Epsilon Chapter
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Sigma Tau Delta
Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society, was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University. The Society strives to
- Confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies;
- Provide, through its local chapters, cultural stimulation on college campuses and promote interest in literature and the English language in surrounding communities;
- Foster all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language, and writing;
- Promote exemplary character and good fellowship among its members;
- Exhibit high standards of academic excellence; and
- Serve society by fostering literacy.
With over 900 active chapters located in the United States and abroad, there are more than 1,000 Faculty Advisors, and approximately 9,000 members inducted annually.
Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.