‘No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books.’
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
‘We read to know we are not alone.’
– CS Lewis
‘Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.’
– Vera Nazarian
‘Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind.’
– Toni Morrison
I overheard a conversation between two men talking about goals for 2022. One wanted to read 52 books, the other wanted to read 12. I am not sure how many books either man read last year, but both of them are keen to build the habit of reading into their lives. Reading is good for you. Reading can increase empathy, strengthen the brain, build vocabulary, and help sleep.
I am a reader; I love reading and reading books are a part of my life. But like any habit, there are other things that have helped me become a reader and grow in my reading habits:
- I keep a list of books that I would like to read next
- A book is in my bag, so that if there is a spare moment, I open my book, not my phone
- I am part of a book group – what I love about this group is we share what we have read over the previous month, which has expanded my book list considerably
- Initiate conversations about books with friends and family
- Listen to podcasts about books and reading
- I read before I sleep at night and books are a wonderful companion during sleepless nights or when I awaken early
- I am a member of my local public library
- I keep a list of books I have read each year
- I set a doable new goal each year for my reading. Last year, I read mostly fiction and am keen to add the habit of reading Christian books into my reading life. I have set a goal of one Christian book a month – 12. This won’t happen unless I build a new routine into my weekly day. I have set my calendar with a reminder for 5pm. This is when ‘I drop everything and read’, I make my cup of tea, head for my favourite chair with my book and read for 30 minutes.
If reading books is a habit you would like to build into your life, but you haven’t read for a while and not sure where to start, it might be worth asking yourself these questions:
Do you need help with what to read?
- What was the last book you read and loved? Maybe you could find another book written by the same author.
- Visit your local public library and ask the librarian for their help finding a book you might enjoy
- Listen to a podcast about reading – one really fun one is called ‘What should I read next’ – you can scroll through previous episodes and choose one that sounds interesting.
- Ask a fellow book lover.
Do you need help with finding time in your day to read?
- Start small: 15-30 minutes a day – choose a time in the day when you think might work and set your calendar to remind yourself that it is ‘time to read a book’. Choose a favourite chair or space and leave your book sitting ready to pick up and begin. You might want to build another habit into this such as making a cup of tea and sitting in a comfortable spot. Or take your book and walk to your favourite park and bench and sit and read for this time. You might need to experiment with this.
- Get your family or friends to take part as well. If you have children, this reading time is the time for everyone to ‘drop everything and read’.
- Notice when you get your phone out to scroll through social media and replace this habit with your new habit of spending that time reading a book.
If you want help with caring for your mental wellbeing, Press On: Building resilience & mental wellbeing provides you with tips and input on how you can build habits such as reading books into your life.
 You can find out about more benefits to our mental health and general wellbeing: ‘Benefits of reading books: how it can positively affect your life’ by Rebecca Joy Stanborough, 15 October 2019 https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-reading-books
 I have suggested some books you might want to read in ‘Finding companionship in books’ https://www.mentalhealthinstitute.org.au/resources/finding-companionship-in-books