You have a stack of unread books next to your bed, a long list of titles friends have recommended and a desire to kick back and enjoy a good story. Yet reading always seems to get pushed to the back of your to-do list in favor of chores, family responsibilities and TV time. By reading things you enjoy, reading with friends and changing your entertainment habits, you can motivate yourself to make reading an enriching, lifelong hobby.
Many people make reading less enjoyable by forcing themselves to read things they don't like or finish every book they start. Unless you're taking a class with required reading, realizing you are free to stop or start a book at any time can make reading more fun. Gretchen Rubin, author of the bestselling book "The Happiness Project," writes that feeling forced to finish books will dampen your enthusiasm and keep you from discovering titles you'll actually enjoy. By contrast, choosing books by favorite authors that are focused on your interests can motivate you to read more often.
Turn the TV Off
Television can be a fun activity, but for many Americans, it becomes a life-consuming habit. In 2012, the U.S. Labor Department reported in its annual American Time Use Survey that Americans actually spent more time watching television than working. Deciding to change your TV viewing habits can open up hours of free time to spend reading. Getting rid of cable, recording your favorite shows to watch later or simply choosing to not turn the TV on can inspire you to delve into the imaginative world of reading.
Join a Book Club
Reading a book doesn't have to be a solitary activity. Joining a book club gives you a community for literary conversation and holds you accountable for finishing books. Participating in discussions and watching the story unfold along with the group can be powerful motivations to read. Similarly, if you have children, you can inspire enthusiasm for reading in your home by making it a family activity. Listening to books on tape together or reading a family-friendly book out loud each evening can instill the value of reading in your kids while motivating you at the same time.
Get an E-Reader
As e-readers become more popular, more Americans are making reading a regular habit. A 2012 Pew Research Center report showed that 21 percent of Americans have read an e-book. The increase in reading isn't exclusive to electronics, however; the same survey revealed that 88 percent of e-reader users also read print books. Rubin says an added benefit of e-readers is that you can take books everywhere. Rather than daydreaming or playing with your cellphone, you can use the time you spend waiting in line or at the doctor's office to continue reading a compelling story.
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.