New Year’s resolutions are notoriously tricky to maintain beyond the end of January, especially as the fresh start also signals the start of a busy Term 2 for students. I have promised myself that I will incorporate reading for pleasure into 2019 rather than just read for my course. However, like many others, I am wondering how to stick to this once essay deadlines and seminar readings, society events and housework start accumulating.
I know that the secret to breaking a habit lies in repetition and routine, so I’m hoping that the key to adopting a new habit is the same. Here are eight ways I will try to integrate reading for pleasure into my daily routine to ensure I keep my resolution all year round.
Reserving a half an hour slot for reading at a certain time each day will quickly make reading a part of the routine. I find it too easy to spend half an hour scrolling through social media before getting up and before going to sleep. This year I plan to spend that time reading instead. Depending on how many 9am lectures you have on your timetable, reserving half an hour at the start of your day for reading could be a refreshing change.
Listening to an audiobook is another way to enjoy books during your commute
Another way to make time for reading is for people living off campus to use the commute as a chance to read. If you drive to campus or suffer from motion sickness, listening to an audiobook is another way to enjoy books during your commute.
Why not take an hour break between lectures and read in one of the many cafés on campus. Getting a couple of hours in at the library between lectures can be productive, but working when you need a break is exhausting and counter-productive. So take an hour to sit in Curiositea and read something of your choosing as a break so you can carry on with your day relaxed and refreshed.
Once you’ve found time in the day to read, the next hurdle is to decide what to read. I have left so many books half-finished because I couldn’t find it in me to enjoy them. I’ve learned not to read a book for the sake of it. I still have a copy of Les Miserables next to my bed which is now being used as a coaster for mugs of tea because I just can’t get in to it.
I have found there is no use in slogging through a list of ‘classics’ just because other readers have read them. It’s better to choose a book by an author you know you like or from a genre you have enjoyed before to increase the likelihood that you will finish and enjoy it. I received a copy of Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed in my Christmas stocking this year which I am looking forward to reading, since I enjoyed The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Perhaps in the coming year you could try broadening the range of what you read to include memoirs or popular science books
Varying what type of writing you read can also help to keep you motivated to carry on reading once the initial burst of enthusiasm for a resolution is over. Alternating between fiction and non-fiction can keep your reading routine interesting. I have never read an autobiography so in 2019 I plan on reading Michelle Obama’s international best-seller, Becoming. Trying a new genre could be an engaging novelty. Perhaps in the coming year you could try broadening the range of what you read to include memoirs or popular science books.
Given the rise of the internet as platform for expression, you could go online in search of reading materials to fuel your New Year’s resolutions. Blogs and self-published short stories are available for free and provide shorter reads for when you’re at your busiest.
An alternative platform to access literature without needing to sit and read is the stage. Although watching live theatre or listening to a poetry recital do not strictly count as reading, exposing yourself to plays and poems off the page is a more rewarding experience than reading lines from a book.
My final suggestion is to create a book club with friends who have made a similar resolution to read more. Set aside an afternoon at a café or an evening at the pub per month to meet and discuss an agreed book. Supporting each other through this admirable New Year’s resolution will be even more fulfilling than going it alone.