Distracted by your phone? Six quick ways to fall in love with reading again
If books have given way in your life to social media, these tips should get you back to them
Unputdownable: Instagram accounts include Book of the Month and Books on the Subway. Photograph: iStock/Getty
In 2019, books are not just a last resort when the wifi is down. There are Instagram accounts, podcasts and even subscription boxes dedicated to reading. Chances are you’ve noticed your friends joining book clubs or posting beautifully lit bookstagram photos. Reading is – if it ever was – cool again.
Why? Perhaps because our brains are so saturated with digital information that we feel the need to return to unplugged hobbies (but also go online to talk about them).
Being overwhelmed by information has shattered a lot of our attention. As a child with undiagnosed ADHD, I read voraciously because my brain needed constant stimulation and I didn’t yet have a phone to distract me. But as the internet became part of my life, reading lost ground, and in my early 20s I went a year without reading a book at all. But by making a conscious effort to read – partly, I confess, because of recommendations on Instagram – I’m back up to at least one book a week.
It hasn’t been easy. I’m still busy, I still have ADHD and I still have myriad distractions. But here is what I’ve learnt, and what might help you to fall back in love with reading in a way that fits in with our ever-online world.
1. Follow book accounts on social media
If you’ve been away from reading for a while, it can be hard to know where to start. It can also be really tough to go from living your life online to building a separate one. By following Instagram accounts that regularly post about books, you’ll get ideas: try Book of the Month, Books on the Subway and Strand Bookstore for beautifully shot recommendations.
2. Read what you want to
If you haven’t read in a while, it can be tempting to set yourself lofty goals. For many of us that’s unrealistic, so instead: are there particular topics you’d love to read a nonfiction book about? Is there an author you’ve found easy to read before who has other books? Is there a favourite you can reread? When I’m finding it tough I often punish myself by trying to slog through something hard before I let myself enjoy something that’s 200 pages and a laugh. But it’s enjoying the 200-pager that gets me in the swing of things, and makes it easier to concentrate on something tougher.
3. Join a library
The Government is spending millions to double the number of us who use libraries, by bringing them up to date and keeping them open for longer each week. So be sure to visit your local library. You can get recommendations, read for free and give up on books you can’t get into. Some have book clubs too. You can find your nearest on the Libraries Ireland website.
4. Make a TBR (to be read) list
Having a realistic to-do list can be a great motivator. You can easily put one together on Goodreads, where you record what you’ve read, want to read and have read. You can also add friends, which introduces a competitive element and holds you accountable.
5. Try audiobooks
If you really can’t concentrate on reading – or set the time aside – maybe it’s a good idea to try a service such as Audible. Sure, people can be snobs about audiobooks, but they shouldn’t be. You still get the exact same information, and can participate in all the chats about the biggest book of the summer – but you can get it done while cooking dinner or out walking. Try the Irish Times pick of 50 great audiobooks.
6. Can’t escape your phone? Put books on it
Between work, friends and everything else, it can be hard to imagine finding time every day to read. The chances are, though, that you could. Do you commute? If you’re not forced to work on it, you can read. Lunch break? Read! I’m guilty of flicking between social-media accounts whenever I get a spare five minutes. But it is just as easy for me to open the Kindle app on my phone as Twitter. Reading ebooks can be more expensive than buying second-hand books – but reading on my phone is often the only way I can commit. – Guardian