How I got back to reading after a long pause

I recall being an avid reader when I was growing up. Enid Blyton came to my rescue during flu season and my Roald Dahl copies are dog-eared from the numerous summers I leafed through them. Somewhere down the line, I fell out of it. I can't pinpoint exactly what happened; all I know is reading took a hit once I hit adulthood. Since then, I've only picked up a book a handful of times. Generally it was few months prior to the release of its movie version to be fully prepared of what I'd see on screen. That changed in 2020. During the initial weeks of isolating at home during the COVID-19 quarantine, I followed the pattern majority of the world did. I decluttered my closet. I baked bread. I Marie Kondo-ed my house. Then I chanced on my Kindle which was packed with unread books and sitting quietly in a corner, untouched. So I said, why not?

That's where it all began. Soon enough I polished down the first book I started. It was a crime thriller and I was so taken by the surprise twist at the end, I almost thought, "Whoa! Books can do that to you? I thought only movies could." The pattern followed and so did more books. I initially wrote it off as a newfangled fascination to play with but almost half a year with continued enthusiasm has convinced me I've rediscovered my love for reading. I won't call myself a bookworm or pretentiously add bibliophile to my Instagram bio anytime soon but I can say with full certainty that I enjoy it. I love how my imagination stitches together visuals to create a full-blown feature film in my head. I like the break it gives my brain from the monotony of my routine. Here's a little note for those considering getting back to reading after a very long pause. You can do it and I'm sharing my tried-and-tested habits which made it possible for me.

Image of woman's hands with long nails holding a Kindle book reader with bokeh Christmas lights in the background

1. Enjoy The Process

Right off the bat, let me say that reading isn't meant to complicated and tough to grasp. It's a recreational activity and you're meant to enjoy it. Which is why is it so important to choose your books thoughtfully. You don't have to pick books that look intellectual on Instagram or ones with language too complex to wrap your mind around. There are no wrong or right genres, writing styles or authors. They can be ancient historical facts or chic lit; absolutely any book is a good choice as long as you like it.

2. Pick Your Way

My kindle completely changed my reading habit. It eliminated the need for visiting book stores, hoarding hard bounds and lugging them along with me if I felt like reading. I've read in conference rooms, hotel lobbies and on flights without worrying about my carry-on exceeding the weight limit. I've heard purists turn their noses up at the mere mention of any form of reading that isn't a paperback. I couldn't disagree with them any more. I've previously read books on my phone as well as listened to audio books and enjoyed them just as much. Reading to me is about the matter, not the medium so as long as your method suits your lifestyle the best, it's enough. And no, I don't miss the smell of paper or flipping through pages with my finger. Environmental conservationists might agree with me.

3. Set A Time

I've begun dedicating pockets of my free time to reading; usually at morning and the last thing before I sleep at night. It isn't exactly a schedule because I skip it when I absolutely cannot spare the time. Thanks to this, I've fallen into the habit of reading while eating breakfast and right before I crash in the night. It has given me something to look forward to when I stop at an exciting point in the book. Plus, the latter is one of the best ways to stay away from the phone at night.

4. Step Back

Restarting reading; any other habit for that matter, isn't an instant magic trick. It won't happen overnight. Initially you might find it difficult to even get through a page. You may read and never really absorb it. The language may be too complex to grasp or the plot too predictable. Expect it because it happens. Take a break, change your choice and try again after a few hours. Little by little, day by day, page by page, you'll slowly find yourself getting pulled back in and never wanting to leave the book you've stepped into.



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