By Gabriella Sotiriou
It is a new year which means the still air that fills the early weeks of January is echoing with whispers of ‘new me’. Every year we see the welcoming of resolutions (however long-lasting they may be). Maybe you want to increase the number of books you read this year. Maybe you want to stop scrolling through social media and find a better way to pass time during lockdown. Well, I’ve got some fool-proof tips that might help you get one step closer to that ‘new me’ you want to embody by the end of the year – *spoiler* the answer is reading.
Believe it or not, regular reading brings comes with amazing health benefits for both your mental and physical health. Establishing a new habit like reading can build better self-esteem, and swapping out late night doom-scrolling for a few chapters of a book can help you create a regular sleep routine.
However, reading ruts plague us all and can make picking up a book feel near to impossible. Yet, they are easy to overcome with the correct guidance. So, whether you are someone who cannot remember ever finishing a book or can vaguely recall the good old days where you would fly through one a week, I am sure that incorporating at least one of these tips into your routine will make you the Belle of the literary ball in no time at all.
The benefits of reading
There are so many benefits of being a consistent reader. It has been found to make us more empathetic people as it makes us more emotionally intelligent.
Reading somewhat improves brain function, keeping our minds active, which in turn is thought to not only delay the onset of issues such as dementia but also reduce stress, depression and low self-esteem. All of these incredible things can come from simply immersing yourself in a book for thirty minutes a day.
Just like hobbies such as running or playing a musical instrument, the more you do it, the better you get. Reading more often will allow you read faster (therefore helping reach that goal of reading more books this year) and also make some of those trickier classics, 700-page tomes, or non-fiction books less intimidating. (However, avoid Ulysses at all costs.
If you are a student or writer, reading will help improve and expand your vocabulary, so is worth spending those 30 minutes each day. Most importantly – now more than ever – reading is a great distraction from reality.
No. 1 – Buy a new book
It is not surprising that you are feeling unmotivated if you have been staring at the same pile of books for the past few months.
No. 2 – Re-read an old favourite
Don’t fancy buying anything new right now? I don’t blame you – bank accounts across the globe are exhausted after online shopping during lockdown.
Instead, why not go back to a book that you remember loving when you first read it many moons ago. Chances are you will love it again and find yourself craving something new once you have flown through it. For me, the book that I always return to is Perfume by Patrick Süskind. I won’t give too much away, but it involves eighteenth-century France, obsession, murder and…perfume. It is wonderful and just the right amount of bizarre.
No. 3 – Read the book version of a film/series you love
Many of the hit films and Netflix series that we all love (and binge within 48 hours) are adaptations of novels.
Are you a big Game of Thrones fan? Did you devour the newest hit, Bridgerton? Loved Armie Hammer and Lily James in the recent Netflix film, Rebecca? Well, they all started as popular novels, meaning that you can experience your favourite characters all over again – and the books often contain more than what makes it to the silver screen.
No. 4 – Join a book group
Though books clubs aren’t possible for many of us living under restrictions, there are so many ways of joining the book community from the safety of your own home.
Look for reading groups on Facebook, – Gals Who Graduate Book Club is a fantastic one – delve into the aesthetically wonderful world of @bookstagram, or watch few ‘reading wrap-up’ videos on Youtube. This always gets me itching to read, and might be just what is needed to encourage you to pick up a book too.
No. 5 – Just start reading!
Though this does not initially sound very useful or inspiring, this is the one that works most often for me.
Sometimes it feels so much easier to just put on the TV, or sit and scroll through your phone, but pick up a book with the intention of reading just one paragraph, or a page or two. Often, once you get going you find yourself thinking, ‘Actually, I may as well finish this chapter’ or maybe even, ‘oh go on then, I’ll read a couple more…’ Establishing a habit like this will actually contribute towards reading becoming just another part of your daily routine. Soon, it will not feel like you have to force yourself to choose a book over Twitter – it will become a natural impulse.
Whether you need something to take your mind off an impending university deadline, help you forget that minor argument you just had with your mum after weeks of living in the same house, or just put some distance between yourself and the tricky world we live in right now, reading can be your best friend. So put your phone down, grab yourself a brew, pick up a book and see where it takes you.
A few recommendations:
Graphic courtesy of Isabel Armitage