How to make time to read, why it matters, and what to read (PART II)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Easy for me to say. I don’t know anything about your life.
Which is true. Once you get home from work, put your feet up to catch your breath, made supper, took the kids to their sporting activities, checked their homework, put them to bed, caught up with friends on Facebook, checked your emails, watched season nine of your favorite show, (You deserve some downtime, don’t you?) it’s past your bedtime. You’re dead on your legs. And, it’s almost midnight.
Read more? Forget it. All you need then is sleep.
In part I (April 13, 2016), we had touched on how reading can make us students of life, help us discover and understand the fascinating and complex world around us and its people. Reading opens up new horizons and broadens our perspectives, it exercises our brains, and can be effective in reducing stress that constantly surrounds us.
In addition to this, reading can help you achieve these 7 goals:
1 | Develop your sense of empathy.
Read more fiction. Research has shown, it develops our ability to empathize. Fiction is aimed at bringing out emotions, while nonfiction focuses more on informing, inspiring and challenging the reader. Once the reader is hooked, transported into the (fictional) story, it becomes a safe arena where the reader can freely experience and express strong emotions, sympathize and identify with the fictional character, without the obligation they would have felt if it was a real-life, shocking and sad story.
Although, the impact can be just as powerful as real-world events. It is also easier to feel stronger empathy toward one or two individuals (in fiction or real-life) than toward 300,000 destitute people in a war-zone (news broadcast), especially if the news broadcast is repeated ad nausea and lead to mental (psychic) numbing.
2 | Become a better leader.
Don’t only read nonfiction. Leaders need to cultivate empathy. Learn to challenge yourself. Learn discipline. If you read little, start with one book a month. Then one a week. It is possible, practical and do-able.
3 | Lower your chances for Alzheimer’s.
Studies have shown the incidence of Dementia is lower in individuals with higher levels of education and who delays retiring. Don’t panic! Start reading! If you do it right, it’s an education of itself.
4 | Improve your vocabulary, your spelling, and grammatical proficiency.
You don’t “need” to go to college. You will learn new words, strange words, beautiful words. Challenge yourself. Read in another language than English. You can become educated through books. For a fraction of the cost, and at your own terms!
5 | Become a better writer.
Improve your writing. It is unlikely that you will become a great and well-loved writer if you don’t read profusely. Learn what works. Learn how to improve your own skills. You don’t “steal” others’ words, you listen and learn from them, improving and creating new techniques and honing your own craft. Read Stephen King’s opinion on writing better.
6 | Find tranquility and inner peace.
Find healing. Learn to forgive. Read spiritual books. Read poetry. Read the Bible.
7 | You’ll sleep better.
Develop a better sleep routine. If you unwind 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime, you’ll be in less need of a sleeping pill. (And don’t forget about the push ups, or walking. Best to do the exercise more than two hours before your actual bedtime. You brain needs to settle down. Reading can do that. And no, don’t snack in bed. Just read.
Alright, alright. You’ve almost convinced me. But let’s be practical. There are only 24 hours in my day. Reading is really at the bottom of my to-do list.
Where does one find time in our busy lives to read?
- Stop right there.
- Go and sit down and take stock of your week: each day, each hour. Write it down.
- Start by fitting in 30 minutes. Before bedtime is a good start.
- You make time. By losing less time on other trivial activities, you’ll gain time.
- Do you need to watch three episodes (or the whole season) each evening? No, you don’t. But I have to unwind. Yes, you do. The book will unwind you and you’ll learn something and expand your mind as well.
- Carry a copy of the book always with you. Invest in an e-Reader.
- Consider obtaining the audio version of the book you’re reading. You can listen to it when you walk, commute, at the gym or when you do your push ups at home. Even when you prepare food in the kitchen.
- By learning to read faster, and more effective, you will be able to read more. Have a look at what Tim Ferriss from the 4-Hour Hour Work Week has to say on the topic of speed-reading.
- If you read nothing or very little, start with one book a month. Once you’ve achieved that goal, increase to two per month. Then work your way to one book a week. Yes, it’s possible.
Okay, I get it, but reading is too expensive!
Not true. You have access to hundreds of thousands of titles for free. Yes, FREE. It is an inexpensive escape. Get your kick without drugs or alcohol!
- Library—get a card for free.
- Free eBooks online:
- Project Gutenberg has free eBooks:
- Free eBooks for life
- Goodreads has a variety of eBooks:
- Amazon Kindle Unlimited: for $ 9.99 / month—gain access to over a million titles and thousands of audiobooks. Do your research. Depending on how many you read, it may (not) be worth your money. eBooks generally cost between $ 0.99—$4.99 It is only available in certain countries.
- Scribd: 3 books and 1 audiobook each month: $ 8.99 / month
- Bookmate: An App from iTunes. From $ 4.99 / month to $ 89.99 / year
What can I read? Where do I even start?
Recommendations: Have a look at my book review page, or otherwise, have a look at these ten:
Please remember, I’m encouraging you to fall in love with reading again. But keep a balance. It will be almost futile if I have convinced you to replace binge-watching TV with binge-reading! Go outside. Get fresh air. Go live. Get some regular exercise.
If becoming a bookworm freaks you out, become a bedtime reader.
Reading is a powerful tool. That’s why successful and happy people won’t be found without them. To the three R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic, we’ve added a fourth R—your pick: running or resistance exercises. Reading won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it will give us fresh and new perspectives, make you a kinder person and who knows, a little wiser?
Only read for 30 minutes, when you’re already in bed. It will help you unwind.
Even in the most hectic schedule, it is possible to commit 2% (yes, only two percent) of your 24-hour day, to reading. It may just save your life.
So, go grab a book. (Or your e-Reader.) Go exercise your brain. Go read and de-stress.
If this was of any value to you, please share and leave a comment. All comments will be answered.
- Benefits of reading.
- Allyson Lewis: 77 Books that Changed My Life and 3 Recommendations to Help You Read More.
- Annie Mueller: When you start to read more, these ten things will happen
- Friedland RP, Fritsch T et al. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have reduced activities in midlife compared with healthy control-group members. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. March 13, 2001. Vol. 98, 6, 3440-3445
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