So you want to Read More

It’s January, which means most of us are low-key looking for that one thing that will transform us from who we are, to the sparkly, better version of ourselves we’re destined to be in 2018.
Not far down the list of resolutions most magazines seem to think are *very* important is: to Read More.
Even people who already read a lot usually want to read more. The idea of reading more is one most people can get on board with, if not in actual practice, then in theory.
It’s vaguely noble, it’s self-improving, smart people do it, it has an air of superiority about it. Compared to dull things like dieting or joining the gym, reading more is a complete walk in the park.
And yet.
Why do you feel compelled to read an article with tips on how to read more? Something so simple can be surprisingly complex. No judgement. I’m here to help.
In theory, if you wanted to read more, here would be my advice on how to do it.

Reading is not adult homework


Hands up, if at some point in your life, you've had a moment like this: someone mentions a book they read and liked, and you feel slightly guilty, possibly even a bit defensive.
You mutter, darkly, something like *I really need to read more* while picturing a stack of unopened books gathering dust on your nightstand. Probably purchased optimistically at the airport before your last holiday. You are not alone here. I do this too.
For a lot of us, reading feels dangerously close to adult homework. We have left our school years behind, yet can’t help feeling like we ought to do it more than we do and feeling slightly guilty about the whole thing.
As someone who reads and tries to persuade to other people to also read for a living, I feel uniquely qualified to tell you: you don’t need to read more if you don’t want to.
If reading feels like something you should do rather than something you want to do, here’s your Free Pass from me. Reading should be fun and enjoyable, not yet another thing you feel like you have to get done in your free time and can’t bring yourself to do.
Trust me when I tell you nothing makes reading less enticing than feeling obligated do it. It’s not homework. If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to do it. Who feels better already?

Hide from your phone please


The dedication you have shown in reading on to the second item on this list shows me you really are the kind of person who wants to read more and is looking for the magic trick to do it.
Here it is, and you’re not going to like it: you need to put your phone away.
I know, and I’m sorry, but sometimes I have to get tough and play Bad Cop.
You are never going to read past page one if your phone is beside you, happily vibrating away and enticing you in with all the instant gratification looking at strangers on instagram provides.
To actually successfully read a book, you need to pay attention to it, and the only way you’re going to do that is if you make an earnest effort not to pay attention to other things.
If you’re worried about hurting your beloved phone’s feelings, you can involve it in the process. Explain to your trusty companion that you need its help with a *special project*, and would it mind terribly setting a timer? Maybe say, 10 minutes? Look at you two working together towards a common goal. You’ve practically read a book already.

Start small


I went slightly off piste there when I suggested you start treating your phone as the Watson to your Sherlock, but there was a grain of truth in that last paragraph. Start small. Start with five minutes. Ten minutes. One page. Etc.
You can transform yourself from a person who falls asleep as soon as they read a paragraph to the person who stays up all night by reading one page at a time.
Like everything in life, you will start out being very bad at this to begin with and then without noticing, one day you will be very good.
Read a page or two, pat yourself on the back, and then put it down. It’s fine.
Books in general take a minute to get into - if you can hang in there through those first few pages of initial confusion when you’re like what is this, who are they talking about you’ll find yourself magically on the other side, knowing what’s going on and even if you’re lucky, feeling interested in it.
Which brings me to my next point...

Read something that interests you


Here’s a thing a lot of us feel but can’t really say out loud because we don’t want to feel dumb: reading seems a bit snobby and boring.
The people who crow loudest about reading often do it with this whole Holier Than Thou attitude that really does make reading seem very boring.
Ignore the snobs who ruin reading. They are the suckers reading the dull, plotless books and having to spend their lives convincing themselves they enjoyed them. This will not be your fate.
You are entitled to read whatever you want and it doesn’t make you lesser because you feel more interested in the Twilight series than you do with whatever highbrow make-no-sense prize-winning novel the newspaper is telling you you must read.
If you accept this advice but now find yourself stumped, allow me to bring us to my final, and in some ways, most important point.

Join a book club


Here’s why joining a book club is worthwhile if you want to read more.
Firstly, it takes all the work out of choosing what to read. If, just for example, you joined an online book club, you’d get an interesting new book every month without ever having to think about it.
Say goodbye to the lost hours scrolling Amazon or taking weird recommendations from your coworkers. A book subscription (like this one, just as an example) means every month you get something worth reading delivered to you. We’ve done all the groundwork - we’ve read it and know it’s great. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy.
Secondly, a book club gives you something to do when you’ve achieved your goal. You can come together with a bunch of other people who have also read the book and chat - about the bits you loved, the bits you hated, whatever. The bonus of our book club (just as an example to illustrate my point) is you can do that without ever leaving your living room.
Have we inspired you? Conveniently, we have a bookstore with a small selection of our favourite books. If you're ready to take the plunge, our online book club and book subscription will set you back just a tenner a month.