Are you a bookworm?
If you call yourself an introvert, there's a good chance you routinely devour all manner of books -- new and old, big and small. Introverts, after all:
- Tend to have an insatiable appetite for knowledge
- Are big on solitary activities like reading
- Turn to books for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life
Imagine this: Back in the 18th and early 19th centuries, books could only be afforded by the elite.
Only well-heeled property owners (and unfortunately, "property" often encompassed slaves as well) like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had the means to amass these pricey tomes. In fact, they boasted whopping collections than ran in the thousands!
Back then, people of modest means would have killed to live in a time where books are as affordable and easily accessible as they are now. (Amazon Prime, anyone?)
Yet, people take this convenience for granted.
On average, people read maybe a handful of books a year, if that.
I get it. Between work, kids, and chores, squeezing in reading time can seem a tall order.
But studies have shown that reading yields myriad benefits, from helping to stave off cognitive decline to reducing stress to expanding one's vocabulary.
And, sometimes, it can be the ideal boredom buster.
Now that I've established how salutary reading can be, you're probably wondering how you can work reading into your schedule.
Here are a few valuable tips for doing just that:
1. Look into audio books. Many introverts like me relish traditional books for their touch and smell (and there's nothing like the sound of flipping through those crisp pages), plus the fact they allow for dog ears and marginal note-taking.
But if your schedule doesn't allow for that and you'd rather just read on the go while at the gym or pediatrician's office -- or, actually, have someone read to you -- audio books make a great option.
2. Carry a book (or more) around with you everywhere. If I'm not toting a book around, I have one ensconced in the trunk or under the seat of my car.
Much like you would surely eat more if you strategically placed food all around you -- in drawers, atop desks, on tables -- the same logic applies to books. The more accessible you make them, the more likely it is you'll work in some reading over the course of your day, whether it's in the car during your lunch break or on your walk home from the grocery store.
3. Bunch reading with something else you like doing. Even though I love to read, there are days I'd much rather be doing something else. Maybe it's that I am tired, I'd prefer to watch a movie with the wife, I have an itch to write instead, or I'm straight up not in the mood to learn about the American Revolution (In case you didn't know, history is second only to Psychology as my favorite subject matter.) It happens.
For those times I want to push myself to break through the inertia or laziness, I pair an activity I enjoy -- be it listening to music or having a nice cup of coffee -- and pair it with reading. Voila!
By coupling reading with a positive stimulus from which you derive enjoyment, you'll be more inclined to do it.
And though it would seem like music would hinder rather than facilitate my reading, I tend to listen to the instrumental versions of the songs. But if I'm really in the zone, the original songs (singing included) don't distract me one bit. Upbeat music gives me a major adrenaline rush -- rather than getting up and dancing, I channel that energy into reading.
4. Set reading goals (realistic ones). Sometimes the only way to get some serious reading done is by imposing parameters on ourselves. Frame it not as a chore, but as a challenge. For example, you might set out to read a page or two each day and build from there. Start small! If you make the goal too ambitious in the early going -- say, a book a week -- you might find yourself throwing in the towel prematurely.
5. Pick a good time and spot for reading. I personally enjoy reading at my kitchen bar while having breakfast, on my balcony in the afternoons, and in my living room nook or bedroom as the evening winds down.
Perhaps trying to read on a loud bus or while your kid is tinkering with his talking action figure is not the best time to read. Pick a time and place where disruptions are minimal -- whether it's your quiet den after the kid and hubby have gone to sleep or at the corner coffee shop before work starts.
6. Use your finger or highlighter while reading. Studies have shown that a person's finger or a highlighter can serve as a visual pacer, sharpening focus and helping you get more reading done. I can't say I do this all the time myself, but it certainly helps to have a writing instrument at your disposal should you wish to write notes or highlight a passage you'd like to refer back to later.
7. Pair up with a fellow bibliophile. Those of us who loathe exercising know full well that a workout is much easier to get through when we have a partner, whether it be a friend or significant other, there with us. We shoot the breeze and before we know it, an hour has passed.
In a similar vein, if you have someone in your orbit who loves to read, the two of you can read together, exchange books, and motivate one another to keep going.
Given all the benefits reading affords us, it's no wonder most introverts are avid readers. Reading can transport us back in time or to the future. Like close friends, they make us laugh, cry, contemplate. Most important, they enrich our minds in a way few other things can. Hopefully, the tips I've provided above will broaden your literary horizons and have you devouring books in no time!
As George R. R. Martin said, "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one."