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Monday, February 15, 2021

Nurture Your Reading Habit

In 2020, the Covid 19 Corona virus saw many people staying home more and picking up books to occupy the mind.  This was a fantastic outcome from a bad situation.  As we move on, let's keep the reading habit alive.  Reading fiction is not only enjoyable, but it makes up better people.

The University of Rochester reviewed 14 previous studies on the correlation between reading fiction and exhibiting empathy towards others. The results showed reading fiction produced improvement in personal interaction and compassion for our fellow man and woman.   That's according to a Jan 25, 2019 article in Inc. titled "New Study: Reading Fiction Really Will Make You Nicer and More Empathetic"  Reading fiction isn't a magic cure for social ails, but the world could sure use more empathy and compassion right now.  

The New Yorker magazine's article "Can Reading Make You Happier?" by Ceridwen Dovey dated June 9, 2015 describes "Bibliotherapy as a very broad term for the ancient practice of encouraging reading for therapeutic effect."  Bibliotherapy is where a therapist prescribes certain books, fiction and non, to help you with areas of your life such as a broken heart or career worries.  This is real and becoming a bigger deal.  It is due to the ability of a novel to allow the reader to live a simulated life for a few hundred pages, feel that character's joys and pains, to simulate walking a mile in another's shoes.  In the process, discovering truths about yourself.  A good book club is a social way to go about this self discovery with a social benefit.  

Reading fiction is also a great stress release.  Whether you get your adrenaline pumping in a harrowing thriller or science fiction novel or you get the rush from a romance, you have spent time outside your personal struggles and pressures of life and lived through another's eyes.  I know I cherish that aspect, as well as "living" in other time periods, experiencing other cultures and "armchair traveling".  

How do you nurture the reading habit as the world is blossoming again with the end of the virus tunnel in sight?  

Join a book challenge.  There are reading challenges on book blogs and Goodreads where you share your progress with others in that challenge.  You can do a solo reading challenge at any time.  For a few years I ran a historical mystery reading challenge on this blog.  Just do a google search or check on Goodreads.  If you want to go it alone, set yourself a stretch goal, perhaps read 50 (or another number) books this year and work to meet that challenge.

Set a regular time each day for your reading.  You may need to cut short television or web surfing time to ensure your success, but it is so worth it.  What is you best time to read?  During your lunch time, an hour before sleep, before work, when you just wake up?  Find the best place to read as well.  It should be distraction free and comfortable.  It will vary for everyone what fits that description.  Make this time special with your favorite cup of tea or similar treat.

Read books that you enjoy, that sweep you up in the story.  This is key to continuing a reading habit, find authors whose writing you can count on to transport you.  Don't feel you must finish a book if it isn't working for you.  You may find a month later that book might spark your imagination better.

Have a book with you at all times.  That is easier these days with ebooks and reading apps on our cell phones.  I have read in line at the grocery store and post office.  

Maintain a list of the books you want to read.  You will feel good marking off the books.  This is a self-nurturing move showing importance to something that makes you feel good.

Keep track of your reading.  You can use a simple pen and paper, your bullet journal, or electronically on Goodreads or LibraryThing.  Besides the basics of the title and author you can include the start and finish reading dates, and a sentence or two of what you thought about the book.

On a budget?  Find a discount book store, used book store, or your local library and get to know the staff.  Sign up for your favorite author's newsletter so you know when their works are on sale.  There are many sites like Bookbub that notify you about book deals based on your reading preferences.

Make reading a shared family value.  I grew up discussing the books we were reading at the dinner table.  My mother devoured historical fiction and talked about the actual history woven into the stories she read.  That is one big reason why I love history.  

Finally, start a simple blog to post your reading experience where family and friends can keep you on your reading habit and recommend books.  There is no pressure if you are using the blog as a forum for family and friends to participate in your reading journey.  You don't have to make it highly analytical, just chat about what you read and what you liked.

These are a few ideas to keep you going on your reading habit. Thanks for reading this!

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