When I got a mobile phone for Christmas when I was 11, the first thing I used it for was as a flashlight to read under the covers long after I was supposed to be asleep.
That’s probably a good indication of how much I loved reading as a child. I always had a book in my hand – in fact, one of my most vivid memories of school was reading under my desk, which I did for most of that year without being spotted.
I was and still am described as a bookworm by my family but I can remember a time when I sort of lost touch with reading, even though everyone else still thought I was doing it constantly.
For example, when I was on Erasmus I didn’t really read that much. I remember when my Dad came over to visit me in Sweden I asked him to bring two books, Caitlin Moran’s ‘Moranthology’ and Colm Tóibín’s ‘The Testament of Mary’. Both good books but neither particularly big, I’d get through both in a day now.
I regret that I lost touch with reading a bit during my late teens, especially because I had started an English Literature degree and probably should have been reading more than ever. Sometimes I think of all that free time I had in college and all the books could have and should have read during the first two years of my degree. But I suppose if I hadn’t stopped reading as much back then), I wouldn’t make such a conscious effort to read as much as I do now.
Sometimes after a long day at work or if I’m in the middle of a story I’m not particularly enjoying, I don’t really feel like picking up a book and getting through another few chapters. But there are a few things I do to make sure I read as much and as often as possible.
Avoid the TV
I am an unashamedly big fan of reality television, whether it features the world’s best known Armenian family or a bunch of women that have nothing better to do than have scraps on-screen. However, there are so many franchises to get through, you could easily find yourself spending all evening catching up on your favourites.
That’s why I made a conscious decision a long time ago to stay away from television or films after I get home from work. Of course if I’m hanging out with a housemate and we decide to watch something together, that’s different – but as a rule, I stay away from Netflix and streaming series because it just takes up so much time.
Personally, I prefer to prioritise reading my book because it makes me feel better about myself than keeping up with a reality TV family. I feel like I’ve done something really productive with my precious evenings.
Take a bath
If you’re stuck in a reading rut, there’s no better way to get out of it than by running a bath, sitting in it and refusing to get out until you’ve put a few chapters behind you. I’m a big fan of baths purely for the fact that you can’t read in the shower – trust me, I’ve tried!
I’ve probably nearly ruined my Kindle loads of times by dropping it in the bath but in my mind it’s a good risk to take for the sake of putting a few pages behind me and where started off in my book. There are also loads of books on my bookshelf that have oddly concertina-shaped pages and have been a bit soggy around the edges more than once!
The bath really is the best place for reading and can be a lovely treat on those cold evenings where you just want a bit of comfort and warmth. Throw in some bath oil and relax for the perfect atmosphere to read your book.
Hop on a bus
I certainly wouldn’t advise propping up a book against your steering wheel so why not take the bus or train to work to add some dedicated reading time to your commute? At the moment I cycle to work so I obviously can’t focus on a book, but I remember well the days of reading on the 46A.
It can be hard to focus on your book while you sit on public transport because of all the jostling and noise as well as great people-watching opportunities, but once you get into the habit, you won’t give up. I never thought when I moved to Donegal that I would miss getting the bus but now I rejoice when I’m visiting home and can take a nice and usually reasonably comfortable bus around the capital.
If you have kids or other commitments in the evening, your time spent commuting to work is a great time to get some uninterrupted time to focus on whatever book you have to hand – pretty soon, you won’t want to be without one!