At the beginning of every year, many of us set goals for how many books we want to read. Reading is way up there with some other famous new year resolutions like “lose weight”, “stop procrastinating”, “fall in love”. Some go for humble figures like 6 or 12, others set a goal as high as 100 books. At the end of the year, some people reach those targets, but often, we don’t.

I believe everybody should read widely. Read African literature from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Cameroon and all over. Read books by American writers, read books by Afghan writers, read books by Chinese writers, read books by British writers. Read inspirational books, read self-help and tech books, business books and non-fiction books, read science fiction novels, horror novels, romance novels, fantasy novels, all kinds of novels. Read the classics, read the unknown novelists, read everything. Broaden your scope.

Reading isn’t a luxury, or a hobby. Reading is necessary. Commit to it, create a schedule, push yourself. Do anything to make it happen. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, make time to read.

However, it’s important to first have a deep willingness to read and grow in the process. Approach reading as a fun, enjoyable and transformational activity that ultimately impacts your life.

Here a few tips to boost your reading habits:

  • Commit to a reading goal – Set a goal. It could be anything, six books in twelve months, twelve books in twelve weeks etc. What is important is that you set a realistic goal. Set a goal that works with your schedule so you don’t feel like you are under too much pressure. Then commit to the goal. Pick a different genre, or an author from a new country every month to spice things up.
  • Set daily reading goals – Be accountable to yourself by setting a couple of times a day when you must read. For example, make it a habit to read during breakfast and lunch, during commutes, every time you use the loo or right before bedtime. You can also commit to reading 20 pages a day, for example, or two articles per day.
  • Get into e-books – For some people, there’s barely any time to pick up a hard copy book. That’s why e-books exist. They’re easy to read on the go, in the bathroom, in bed and even in traffic. I find that I finish reading e-books faster than hard copy books, simply because my device is always with me. You can buy e-books on your phone through platforms such as iBooks, Kobobooks, Okadabooks etc. You can also buy a kindle device from Amazon. Audiobooks are very convenient if you’re always on the move.
  • Get into online content – Reading doesn’t necessarily refer to books. On the internet, there is a world of short stories, articles and journals that are just as amazing as books. If you’re too busy to finish a book in good time, then subscribe to a few online literary magazines. Tons of short stories and articles are published every day on various platforms. You will never run out of stories to read. They’re mostly bite size, and you can commit to reading as little as one story a day. Some of these sites I read often are The New Yorker, The New York Times, Catapult, Longreads, Narratively, Guernica, Brittle Paper and Afreada. You can also use an app like Pocket to save articles offline, so you can read them even when you’re not connected to the internet.
  • Abandon Books or Articles you’re not enjoying – One of my reading philosophies is to never force myself to finish reading something I’m not enjoying. Doing this ruins the experience for me and puts me off picking up my book or device to read. Once I realize that a book or an article bores me, I stop and pick up something more interesting. Life is too short to read stuff you don’t enjoy. Don’t try to read books that you think you should read because they’re classics or because you think they will make you look smart. Unless they’re for your academics, then totally read them.
  • Reduce TV and internet time – If we’re being honest, a lot of time spent watching TV or Netflix, or scrolling through Instagram and Twitter can be spent reading a good book or article. If you want to read more, try cutting back on TV or Internet consumption. This may be difficult for many people. Still, every minute you reduce of Internet/TV, you could use for reading.
  • Join a reading group or a book club – Your reading goals need to be backed up by accountability to help put a check and encourage you during times you don’t feel motivated. Reading buddies, groups or book clubs can be very helpful in getting you to meet these goals. Find a group of people who want to read as much as you do, and commit to discussing your monthly reads. This way, you’ll have the discussion to look forward to.
  • Keep a record – I’ve found that keeping record of my reading progress yearly motivates me to read more. Write down the names of the books you’re reading, and how long it took you to finish each. Keep track of how your reading speed increases. Keep a record of how many articles you read monthly, see how many you read at the end of the year. Fun facts: records can also serve as bragging rights.

Once you begin to see reading as important as eating or working out or socializing, you will find that you’re able to make time. Have a great reading year!

This article was written by Phidelia Imiegha, you can follow her on twitter via @the_phidelia

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