Any guesses on what this pastime could be? 🤔
I'll give you a hint- I got called a nerd for YEARS for it, so much so that I've proudly adopted the name as part of my identity 🤓
Ready for the answer? It's...
I've been an avid reader for as long as I can remember! I have SO many memories when it comes to reading- working on my decoding skills for fun & making up stories to the pictures of my books for Show & Tell in Kindergarten, reading the Junie B. Jones series in Second Grade, keeping a reading log with my teacher in Fourth Grade, and- of course- the infamous hook to reading for pleasure in my adolescence: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. (If you haven't read this series, you NEED to click the link and get them ASAP! You can thank me later 💁🏻♀️)
I am in LOVE with the way diving into a good book can create a whole new reality in your mind where you not only get to see the events unfold, but dive into the complex minds of your characters. In my opinion, movies can't even come CLOSE to the level of detail & absorption books contain (once you're able to process what you're reading effectively of course).
However, while I have a deep appreciation for fictional books & the lessons learned within the stories, my brain is not wired to pay attention to nonfiction books. I don't know what it is, but before I became dedicated to reading nonfiction books, I couldn't pay attention for more than two pages and often found myself having to go back to something I previously read to try to comprehend it again.
Therefore, I completely understand where my non-readers are coming from when they say things like "Reading is boring," "I don't like reading," "It doesn't make sense," etc.
As an educator and someone who's had to work hard herself to craft a consistent reading practice, I feel as though I have a unique perspective on creating a routine that sticks. I'm writing today to share that perspective with you because I truly believe knowledge is power and there are SO many benefits you can derive from adding reading into your life- whether you're reading romance, sci-fi, self-discovery, etc.
Benefits of Developing a Reading Practice
First, we've gotta get some motivation going for developing a reading practice!
First & foremost, reading is like exercise for the brain! As a Mindset Mentor, I may be a little biased, but I believe the brain is the most important organ in the body. It's the powerhouse of both our autonomic functions & our consciousness. It's what makes us capable of so many great things!
But in order to do those great things, our mind has to be strong. Between creating new ideas, figuring out the tasks associated with executing those ideas, and actually executing, our brain needs to be in tip top shape to ensure we're doing the best we can in the present while remembering lessons from the past that can be useful to our current endeavors.
By reading, you're not only practicing your processing skills, you're learning valuable lessons regardless of what you're reading. I truly believe each book- even the kiddiest of kiddy books- has a valuable lesson that we can take to heart.
To illustrate, I recently finished The Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare (PHENOMENAL series btw!). This series is purely fictional and centers on a group of teenagers- not something you'd think a 24 year old can learn something from, right?
This series was incredibly illuminating with life lessons through all the demon fighting & forbidden love. One of the most poignant lessons of the whole series is that revenge won't quell the ache left behind by loss- only true healing can do that.
Not bad for a bunch of teenagers, but I digress...
(P.S. Don't ever get me talking about books unless you're prepared for a whole dissertation on them 😅)
Second, reading can help improve your focus. In an age where social media is siphoning our attention span at an alarming rate, it's extremely beneficial to practice anything to help you get it back. Trust me- it'll be hard work to build that focus up, but once you do you'll be so appreciative of how much you can get done in a work sesh without gluing yourself to your phone.
Finally (for the purposes of ensuring this blog isn't 10,000 words...), reading can teach you more than you've ever imagined! As I mentioned above, I truly believe knowledge is power and you have the ability to get as much of that power as you want for yourself! That power can be in...
Being an expert in a subject area
Crafting your latest $1,000,000 idea from the inspiration a book brought
Developing a new skill
... This list could literally go on forever! While you may know the title & synopsis of a book before diving in, you never truly know what benefits you'll gain from a book.
My most recent example of this phenomena comes from my time reading Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown. My therapist recommended the book to me as I have a hard time being in tune with my emotions, so I knew the book would be a self-discovery book centering on emotions.
However, what I didn't realize going into this book was how many times my mind would be blown by various psychological facts! I felt like I was in another psychology class, but with a hip instructor that infused her teaching with real-life stories in an interesting manner.
Not only have I gleaned a TON of awareness for emotions & patterns within myself, but I've found so many new things to share with my community because I just found the facts so interesting, like this one about things that increase our odds of dying. I had no idea going into the book how fascinated I'd be with the information presented and simply thought I was ticking a box on my personal development reads goal for the year!
So, now that you've had a taste of the benefits reading can bring to your life, it's time to take the first step in developing your reading practice!
Behold- My tried & true method for training my brain to read nonfiction novels (even when it acted like a toddler being asked to take a bath...)
Step One: Pick a Title That Piques Your Interest (Even if it Isn't Your Ideal Book in Your Genre)
This tip is especially important for my friends trying to develop a reading practice period. You're not going to want to read something you're not interested in, so the key to developing a reading practice is getting yourself excited & curious about the book you chose!
I used this principle when I got myself back into fiction reading in November 2022. (I go through spurts of being obsessed with fiction novels then not reading for a little while). I was on my way to my cousin's wedding in South Carolina and I didn't want to stare at my phone the whole time, so I did something I'd never done before...
😳 I bought a romance novel 😳
As someone who strictly read YA/Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels, I was completely out of my wheelhouse with a romance novel and honestly thought I'd get bored of it soon since realistic fiction felt too close to nonfiction.
What I didn't expect was to consume that book + the sequel (It Ends With Us & It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover) over the course of that weekend and go on a romance binge for the following eight months!
You know what they say- "You never know if you don't try it!" I definitely learned that lesson here and I hope you'll do the same when trying a new kind of book! This can be any sort of book for my friends just starting out or a reach book within a genre for my friends trying to stay genre-specific (how I am with my self-discovery reading practice).
Step Two: Get the Book in Your Favorite Format (Yes- That Means Splurge on the Hardcover! 😱)
When starting your reading practice, you need to treat it like, well, a treat! You're doing something with TONS of benefits to you, so this practice in itself is a form of self-care. That means whatever form of book you enjoy most is the treat you should get because you deserve it 🙌🏻
Personally, I'm a Kindle girlie because the money I save with Kindle Unlimited is literally THOUSANDS! Plus, I love the connivence of the lightweight Kindle & ability to sync my book to phone instead of carrying a book around with me. (Don't get me wrong, I still appreciate the beauty of flipping the pages of a beautiful hardcover book 🙌🏻)
Step Three: Set a Cozy Reading Scene for Yourself (Turn on Rain Sounds/Calming Music, Light a Candle, Dim the Lights, etc.)
Now that you've got the best version of your new, interesting read, it's time to set the scene! Create an environment you want to be in: Light your favorite candle, create soft lighting, brew your favorite caffeine, put on your favorite reading music, grab a warm blanket, etc. I want you to feel like what those aesthetic pictures of reading look like when you're all set up! This way, you don't want to leave your little comfort bubble of reading.
Step Four: Dedicate 10 minutes a day to reading in this cozy space (you can do anything for 10 minutes!)
10 minutes is literally 0.7% of your day. Even for the busiest of bees out there, I guarantee you can find 10 minutes of your day to spare for the strengthening of your mind.
In comparison, the average person uses about 151 minutes of social media a day (Statista) 🤯
If you feel like you can't find a time to read, think about a time in the day you typically go on social media. Then, make a deal with yourself- no social media until your 10 minutes of reading is done!
As someone who enjoys reading certain genres more than others, the deal I've made with myself is the kinds of books I can read first. I have to read my 10 pages of self-discovery before I get to touch my fictional read every day (regardless of the EXCRUCIATING cliffhanger I may or may not have been left off on the previous day...)
From there, you adapt your routine as you see fit! Want to go up to 20 pages/day regardless of the time? Go for it! Want to read multiple genres at one time? You got this!
I know today's post was a plethora of information. Congratulations if you made it to the end! That show that you CAN be a reader if you truly put your mind to it 🙌🏻
Happy Reading! ✨
Leave a comment down below with the book you're starting off with ⬇️