Illustration of a person reading a book with a cup of coffee next to them.
Spend just one minute reading everyday and you can build up to indulging in it for longer. Illustrations by (c) Reset Fest Inc, Canada


The Re:Set Guide to Rebuilding a Reading Habit

Experiment with formats to find what works best for you.

Remember the feeling of curling up in a corner with a nice book, getting lost amidst the words and losing track of time? Most people now feel like they have been gobbled up by the screens in front of them, rendered unable to ever complete a book without being distracted by constant notifications and a short attention span. 

Now that most of us are spending more time indoors and the days are starting to blend into an amorphous chunk of existence, there is no better time than now to get back into the habit.

We spoke to Sadaf Vidha, a therapist and researcher from Mumbai, to help us understand why reading, especially for leisure, can sometimes be more challenging. Smartphones and being continually surrounded by people and noises make reading a difficult task, Vidha said. “Reading makes use of the prefrontal cortex and if you are in a cognitively heavy job, this part of the brain is already taxed due to your workday, and may not cooperate when you want to read for pleasure,” she told Re:Set. Vidha shared some tips to guide those who are looking to rediscover the joy of reading.

Start small 

Read what excites you the most, and don’t have any expectations on when to finish,” Vidha suggested, adding that you can start with anything from trashy fiction to manga or even children’s books. Often it is our idea of what we “should read” and how fast that interferes with forming the habit, she observed. “Spend one minute looking at the book every day and if you feel like it, [read] a paragraph, a page or as much as you feel like.”

person in a bathtub reading a book, there are candles and a glass of wine next to them.

Indulge in reading like a treat instead of focusing on being fast.

Understand why you’re reading

Find out the meaning of reading for you and center that when you pick up a book, remarked Vidha. “Indulge in it like a delicious treat, and then the pressure of ‘reading fast’ or ‘reading smart’ will not be there and you can, therefore, enjoy reading.”

Make it interesting and social 

If you are someone who has never had a strong relationship with books before or are looking to delve deeper into them, Vidha recommends joining virtual or in-person book clubs. Reading reviews and summaries can also help reignite excitement for the stories and knowledge that one may discover on their journey. Learning more about the history, context, author and other elements around the book can also help pique interest.

Also read: The Re:Set Guide to Building a Phone-Free Nighttime Routine

Find a format that works for you 

Trying other ways to consume literature can help,” noted Vidha. Reading hard copies of books or using audiobooks instead of spending more time in front of screens can be useful if you need a break. You can also try reading aloud for oneself, for friends or do a reading over a Zoom call where you can all partake together. 

Draw a line between professional and personal reading 

Especially if you’re someone who reads a lot for work, when you’re settling in to read for pleasure, try other relaxation methods like having hot cocoa and using aromatic candles alongside to help you associate the activity with relaxation and pleasure.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Arun

    August 31, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Another useful suggestion is this: Go for genres that you can relate to. If you love romance, go for romance novels. Or if you are drawn to the thrill of murder mysteries, that is what your choice should be. If you are a science geek and more into technological stuff, sci-fi books will be a perfect choice!

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The Re:Set Guide to Rebuilding a Reading Habit