I love to read. I love it more than writing. I’ve been at it longer and have had, you could say, better success with it.
My mom is a reader and took my sisters and me to the library often. We fed the ducks, sometimes went to storytime, but mostly browsed around the stacks while my mom picked out books for herself. I was encouraged to roam the library freely, step out of my age-group of books and pick up whatever I like. I read everything from X-men comics to how-to books, the psychology of dreams to Grimm’s fairytales.
I think that is mostly how you raise a child to love reading—let them see you reading, let them read freely. Take them to the library, read to them, have books all around your house. But not everyone grew up with that and sometimes people have to learn to love reading.
That’s ok—its not like gymnastics or long-distance running, you can really pick it up at any age and grow a wild passion for it quickly.
Some common misconceptions with reading are that it is only for nerds, that it is boring, that it is obsolete in our fast-paced technology saturated existence.
I am, yes, very much a nerd, but I know plenty of cool people, so cool that I don’t Personally know them but mostly know Of them, that read and even write. If you find the right book, reading it will not be boring. And reading is not only not only still relevant, it is even more necessary in our culture of ever-shortening attention spans and little value in the lasting.
I won’t go into the scientific data on the benefits of reading, though there is such data out there on how it benefits both mind and body (and, I’d argue, soul), but I will tell you this—a good book can be a passport, a mirror, your mother’s voice, your father’s ghost, it can take you far away and bring you further in.
When you read a book, whether fiction or nonfiction, you are taking part in the perspective and way of telling of another unique human being, a particular perspective never before or never since offered again. It is never too late to take part of this—and I hope you will.
How To Take A Book In Hand:
1. Find a Book Through Recommendations
Start by asking friends/family/the world at large (Facebook. Twitter.) what was the most influential or best book that they’ve ever read. You might not get a great many replies, but it is a way to get you started. Try out some of these suggestions. If you don’t know any readers, sign up for sites like Goodreads or Librarything. There are user-created best-of lists for many genres, and also reading groups that could recommend books for you. If all else fails, check out school reading lists—there are often more than a few gems to be found there.
2. Find a Book Through Browsing the Stacks
What I love most about libraries is the joy of discovery (and that they are free. And interlibrary loan
too, marvelous.). Most libraries have popular new books near the front center, the circulation desk. My local library has it divided up into genres. I drive my daughter crazy with my last minute browsing in the check-out aisle! So if you aren’t sure what you want to read or what you would like reading, start there. Pick up anything that slightly catches your attention—whether it’s the cover, a well-known author, the topic, the clever title. Libraries are FREE—there’s no risk here, unless you lose the books and rack up a fine.
And, if you grow braver, venture out into the stacks. I feel like a kid in a candy store when I’m in the stacks. Perhaps, adventurous reader, start with a topic you are interested in (let’s say you are a mom—maybe you are interested in parenting books. Maybe you love decorating—check out the design section). Once you are in that section, you can experience the great value of a library—being able to find books you would have never been recommended or known to look for and being able to try that book out for free.
3. Don’t Waste Time on Books You Hate
If you hate a book by the end of the first chapter, don’t finish it. There’s nothing wrong with not finishing a book if you don’t like it—this isn’t school, no one is requiring you to read this. Not to say that there aren’t a great many books that are fantastic once you get past the first chapter—there are!—but if you are just starting out with learning to love reading, don’t force yourself to slog through a book just because you checked it out from the library or a cute girl you like recommended it to you. Put it down—there are plenty other books in the sea.
4. Be Fearless
This is no time for timidity—if you want to read a book about rocket science, go for it. If you want to read poems by Jewel, no judgment here. You are ultimately the one sitting down with the book—it doesn’t have to be a book that people would expect you to read. This isn’t about impressing people—its about enriching your own mind. So read what you want to read—read widely and boldly.
As you see, learning to love reading is not a difficult skill to accomplish. And you’ll find that the more that you read, the more you develop your taste in books and the faster your reading becomes. Happy reading!
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
– Oscar Wilde