read more books

How to read more books

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When I was a kid, I used to love reading. Back in primary school, we had these clear plastic pouches where our teachers would put in a different book each day for us to read at home. I’d rush home and make my mum read a book with me every night.

My love for reading continued till I was in high school. And then, the reading stopped. Most of my time was spent hanging out with friends, watching TV or studying for exams. I’d read novels now and then (I’m still proud to be one of the earliest people to read Harry Potter before it became hugely popular!), but I didn’t read as much as I used to.

This went on for years–through college, through my years working in the corporate world, becoming a mother, and leaving my job to pursue a freelance career–until recently. Throughout those years, I probably read, at the most, two or three books a year.  I knew I enjoyed reading but I guess I let life and everyday busyness become my priority.

A couple of months ago, I decided that I wanted to discover my love for books again. Reading a book is not the same as reading articles or blogs online. A book takes you on a journey of discovery and learning through the author’s eyes. A book is a summary of an author’s years of research–all conveniently packaged for you to learn from. A book makes you better at understanding different points of views as you immerse yourself in the author’s dialogue or the characters that make the story. It teaches you empathy and compassion.

I realised that I was missing out on the wonders of reading when Brendon Burchard, an online trainer in personal development, reiterated that he reads one book a week. He’s been doing that for the past 20 years so that he can be a role model for his students. So one day, I thought to myself, “Okay, I need to rediscover my love for reading again. I’m going to read one book a week from now on.”

How has my progress been so far? So far, so good. I have a lot of books in my house that were bought a decade ago but left unread. So I decided to start with those. Of course, some books take me more than a week to finish, because some days I just don’t feel like reading. But every morning, as I plan my day, one of the items on my ‘to-do’ list for the day is to read 40 pages.

Now I know that not all of you have the time to read one book a week. But I do encourage you to make it a habit to read every day (if you haven’t been reading consistently). It’s one of the easiest ways to improve your grammar and writing skills. Reading out loud helps to improve your speaking skills too. Find books on topics that you enjoy–this will make reading fun and something that you look forward to.

Here are some tips that I personally use to get more reading in my day.

1. Make it a daily ritual.

My goal is to read one book a week. I figured that if an average book is 300 pages, all I needed to do was divide that by seven days. That equals to 42.86 pages a day. I rounded that down to having to read 40 pages a day.

Perhaps you’d like to read one book a month. So all you need to do is divide 300 pages with 30 days (the average number of days in a month). That equals to only having to read 10 pages a day! That’s not too much, right?

Once you’ve figured out how many pages you’d like to read in a day, if you plan your days like me, make sure to have it as an item on your ‘to-do list’. There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing out an item that you’ve completed by the end of the day.

2. Replace the time spent on social media with reading a book.

How often do you look at your phone in a day? The average person spends nearly two hours on social media everyday. That is equal to 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime. Imagine that. What if that time was used instead to read books? You could learn so much!

I found that I spent a lot of my time on social media and browsing the Internet when I could have easily picked up a book. So instead of picking up my phone to check on my Facebook news feed, I picked up my book. Life changing.

3. Bring a book with you wherever you go.

As I always say, humans are creatures of habit. If we do something often enough, it will become second nature. Just like the act of taking our phones with us wherever we go. It’s become second nature – we wouldn’t go anywhere without our phones.

So recently, I decided that if I wanted to go anywhere, I’d take my book with me. Of course, there are times when I go out and don’t even read the book. But there are times when I find myself sitting at the bank, waiting for my number to be called out. I would usually whip out my phone and go through my email, Whatsapp and Facebook.  But now that I bring a book with me, I have the choice to read instead.

Now I bring a book with me wherever I go – for those times when I’m unexpectedly in line or have free time on my hands. Those are the times that are best for reading.

So there you have it. Three ways to get more reading into your life. I hope this post will inspire you to join me on my journey of reading books again. If it has, let us know what book you’re going to be reading this month.

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Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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