Are you one of the UK’s 16 million lapsed readers? Do you ever sit down to read a book? If the answer is never, and you can barely remember the last time you picked one up, what does it take to get back into reading.
Galaxy Quick Reads’ recent research found that those who read for as little as 30 minutes per week, are less likely to suffer from low mood and are 20% more likely to be satisfied with their lives. A wealth of health and wellbeing benefits are available to those who make time to read, from getting a better night’s sleep (43%), to boosting self-esteem (10%) and helping them feel less lonely (19%).
So what’s stopping 16 million lapsed readers from reading? 42% said lack of time was the biggest reason, yet we make time for social media and TV, so why not books?
Your guide to starting a new chapter:
- Try Audio Books
“Lots of people are snooty about them, they think they’re not really reading, but actually it’s just as valid because you end up spending more time with the book. Yes, you can’t fold down pages and flick back and forth with an audio book, but there are ways that you can get over that by making notes,” says author Ella Berthoud.
- Keep a reading notebook
“It’s a great idea for lapsed readers because you’re committing yourself to reading again, and every time you finish a book, you write down the title, author, place you you read it and a few notes about what you thought about the book, whether you enjoyed it, and that gives you quite a tangible relationship with the book. If you’re only going to read one book every two months, at least you can remember that book.”
- Share your reading
“Whether it’s short stories or a whole novel, read aloud with a partner or friend – it’s a great way to spend time together and it’s free. It’s a very romantic thing to do with a new boyfriend, or as a way to rekindle a longer-term relationship,” says Berthoud. “It’s very relaxing and it’s lovely to be the person being read to, and if you’re the one reading, you’re giving yourself to the other person.”
- Join a book group
“Or create your own, it’s a nice way of reading and being sociable at the same time.”
- Have a favourite bookshelf
“Have a place in your house that’s a collection of around 10 key books you feel are your reading identity. Remind yourself that you have loved reading, you still do love reading if you give yourself time to do it.”
- Revisit your younger reading self
“By re-reading books you loved as a child or teenager, you’re effectively time-travelling through the book. So, for instance, if you read Tess Of The D‘Urbervilles when you were 15 and you re-read it when you’re 25 and 35, even when you’re 55, you are instantly transported back to how you felt when you were 15. If you’ve read it many times, then you revisit all those younger selves, so it’s a great way of keeping in touch with yourself and how you felt. You can go back to that 15-year-old you and tell them what you wish you’d known when you were that age and even vice versa with your 15-year-old self saying, ‘Don’t worry, I still think you’re cool’.”
- Have reading time
“Every weekend, set aside at least one hour, preferably two, when you switch yourself off from all devices, leave phones and iPads in another room and then curl up somewhere cosy with a good book, ideally in a reading nook somewhere in your house that you’ve created. Tell your family that you’re reading for a couple of hours, if you’ve got small kids, get them to read as well. It’s a great habit to get into from early on for children to know that every Sunday afternoon after lunch, they’ll have quiet time for an hour – it’s a lovely, special time.”
Ella Berthoud, author of The Novel Cure: An A To Z Of Literary Remedies recommends fiction over self help and says “Books influence how you behave and feel, so reading Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird will make you understand the morality of racism, and also the morality of bullying someone who’s a recluse and put you in their shoes, so you have more empathy with the rest of humanity.”
So does it matter what we read? A good book, often, is a question of taste – but don’t give up if the first ones you pick up don’t engage you.