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Published on April 6, 2023
As a prospective student of literature, the idea of reading to me sounds marvellous. However it isn’t just me who finds this idea to be extremely appealing. Out of all my friends who enjoy reading, most aren’t pursuing literature or even a humanities-related field- a lot of them have even read more books than me! The fact of the matter is that reading is for everyone. Yes, everyone. No matter who you are, you will find something to read that strikes your fancy in all domains of interest.
But how do I know this? Well, in truth, books and literature have existed for centuries, and thus it has evolved and branched out into several modes of writing. Legends, epics, inscriptions. Short stories, novels, creative nonfiction. Essays, poetry, plays. Graphic novels, novellas, memoirs. There’s so many inherently different styles of writing. Different themes that can be explored. Different cities, towns, worlds and universes to explore, different cultures to understand, different perspectives to witness. If the idea of books is that of a daunting behemoth of a task, rest assured. It doesn’t have to be. If you want to get into reading but don’t know where to start, this is for you. The focus of the rest of this blog is to give suggestions on how one can get into reading.
The Big Idea: “Endurance”
Imagine- you just saw a TEDTalk on how Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is a must-read. That it’s a book that takes you through every lesson of life you could possibly learn. You were never particularly enthused by books, but now you are enticed by the idea of this novel, so on impulse you buy the book, only to open it, read the first 5 pages and put the book down. A frown places itself on your face. You ask yourself, “what was that?” “What were those words?” “Why are the paragraphs so long?” and “I mean, I love the idea of this book but how will I read 600 more pages of this book? I think I should give up reading while I’m ahead”.
It’s time to combat these thoughts though, because much like deciding on jogging continuously for an hour despite never jogging in your life, reading something thick and verbose despite never really reading before is difficult. In the former, your chest fills up, your muscles ache and you immediately feel like sleeping. In the latter, you put the book down and decide to do something else instead. Both these examples portray fallacious thinking and ignore the grand method behind getting into either exercise regimes or reading: endurance. Building up skills over time at a comfortable, yet consistent pace.
Let’s explore specific methods you can use to get into reading whilst practising endurance:
1- Read books that are “simple” first
A lot of books are simplistic. That never means that they have less merit, however it does mean that they are easy to get through and often times motivates people to get into reading more and more, until their reading skills develop to the point where even Dickens and Blake seems easily understandable and all those personifications, tricolons, allusions, symbols and metaphors fit into place, like gears clicking together; like a jigsaw puzzle.
2- Set goals in your reading journey
If it helps, set up a Goodreads account and find your book loving friends from real life and across the internet. Setting goals just as you are getting into reading is extremely important, as it helps you read on days where you may not want to. Reading inconsistently especially when you’re not overtly into reading will generally not produce favourable results.
3- Read books that sound appealing to you first
If you’re interested in science fiction, romance or horror, read something of that genre first. In your first ventures, forcing yourself to read something you may or may not like may under unfortunate circumstances, sour your experience with reading. If you enjoy watching romantic comedies, let your first reading experience be a well-received and acclaimed lighthearted romance novel or short story collection.
If you are invested in philosophy, read a simple book of philosophical fiction, such as one of Voltaire’s novellas, like “Candide”. Similarly, conduct research, read spoiler-free reviews and ask anyone around you who loves books to find a safe reading option to ease yourself into. After a few safe books, taking risks in terms of reading more unfamiliar material will be foolproof- now if the book isn’t to your liking, you at least know from your previous example that all books don’t have to be like that! If you want to be a diverse and avid reader though, do step out of your comfort genre, author or topic once you are comfortable with reading.
4- Socialise with people who enjoy books
Lastly, you should surround yourself with people who enjoy reading as well! You can join a book club where you have to read a new book every week and discuss it together, or just talk to people reading similar books as you or who have read and enjoyed similar books as you. You can also socialise with those who, like you, are just getting into reading.
Actively discussing specific books as well as reading goals and experiences, and giving each other opinions and recommendations will, in most cases, harbour a motivating environment and attitude towards reading. Think of the exercise analogy again, if you want to get into exercising, maybe going into a gym that is known for being warm and inviting, or joining an exercise group eases you into things. It’s true that some people are individually driven though, so this doesn’t have to apply to everyone, but even as an introvert who already loves reading, discussing my favourite (and least favourite) books with my friends definitely makes the entire experience much more exciting.
These are some of my suggestions, and if you wish to get into reading, do feel free to try these and see which methods work. I would like to stress that getting into reading requires the reader to have a degree of self-involvement, self-motivation and open mindedness. The world of literature is boundless. Utterly boundless. You venture through thoughts, ideas, people. Through countries, cities, and dingy rooms. Through time. Through hearts. Through the depths of the ocean to the expanse of the endless azure sky. Through worlds that don’t exist and worlds that could exist if we were better or worse.
Like F. Scott Fitzgerald says, “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
Naomi is an aspiring creative writer who one day, dreams till write and run a tv show. She is an avid reader, but apart from that, loves playing the piano, listening to a diverse array of music and even composing music from time to time. Naomi is currently in 12th grade and about to graduate- looking forward to study English literature and creative writing in the UK. In her free time, she likes to watch tv, read books, listen to podcasts and take walks in the park to observe how the trees look like they're breathing when it is windy.