Opinion: How to incorporate leisure reading into 2019

Books have always held a special place in my heart. In fact, one of my most cherished memories was my first day of kindergarten. That day, I jumped out of my mom’s car and sprinted into the elementary school building — ex­cited that I would learn how to read. When I did learn to read, I read every­thing. From children’s books like “Little Bear” and the popular children series “Junie B. Jones” to articles in my mom’s AARP magazines, reading was like breathing air. Fast forward sixteen years, two jobs and a full load of college cours­es later and much of the reading I do nowadays is assigned to me. Though stories still bring me joy, it can be dif­ficult to find the time or enthusiasm to read as leisurely as I used to.

However, I’m not alone. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics’ recent American Time Use Survey, leisure read­ing dropped 30 percent since 2004. An­other 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center found almost a quarter of adults in America haven’t read a book in the past year. But not all hope is lost. Wheth­er you’re looking to fall back in love with reading books or hoping to finally cross the goal to read more off your New Year’s resolutions list, here are a few tips to make reading books a habit:

FIND THE RIGHT BOOK

Leisure reading should feel like an escape into another world, not another chore on your to-do list. A good book should grab and retain your attention, and it should evoke thought and emotion out of you as a reader — which for some could mean ugly crying or unstoppable laughter. If you discover — after the first 50 pages or so of reading — that a book contains flat characters, a lousy plot, poor grammar and/or is too complex to get through, drop it and try another one. Finding the right book can be challeng­ing, but it’ll be worth it.

AIM FOR 30

For those with hectic schedules, read­ing for 30 minutes a day sounds unat­tainable. However, if you can set aside just 10 minutes at least three times a day for reading, you’ll easily accomplish that goal. You can also find time by cutting back on social media or TV. The 30 min­utes you spend binge watching something on Netflix or aimlessly scrolling through social media could be time spent towards reading a book. However, I know a heavy Instagram user or an obsessed Netflix binge watcher might be clutching their invisible pearls at this request. Start slow, and maybe replace social media with reading twice a week.

GO DIGITAL

Carrying a book with you every day is another great way to make reading a habit. However, print books can be heavy. Digital options like eBooks, Kindles and audiobooks are lightweight. With eB­ooks, you can have an entire library at your fingertips. Digital options make it so much easier to read anytime or any­where by instantly downloading eBooks onto your phone, eReader or laptop. Also, eBooks will save you money, as the dig­ital version of new releases are often cheaper than the print versions. Though most people prefer print books, audio­books are a growing trend. A survey from the Pew Research center found the num­ber of Americans who read audiobooks jumped from 14 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2018. One of the many ben­efits of audiobooks is the ability to mul­titask. For example, now you can listen to Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” audiobook while preparing dinner or driving to work.

FIND A READING PARTNER OR A BOOK CLUB

Having a reading partner or joining a book club can be incredibly beneficial as you go on to accomplish your reading goals. Sometimes, it helps to have some­one who will hold you accountable and ensure you are on track. Ask a close friend or family member if they’d be your read­ing partner and to read a book with you. You can also find local book clubs by checking community bulletin boards on campus or at the university bookstore. Websites such as meetup.com will help you find book clubs in your area.

ILLUSTRATION BY BRUNO MARQUEZ