As a child, I wasn’t so extroverted and I really can’t say that I am now. For me, it has always been a struggle between the two sides, and I would later find that I really do not want to be known for one. This is more reason why I fell in love with books in the first place, I had to have to something to do those times when I was more inclined to my introverted side.
What’s more, my Baptist parents made me join a kid group in church that compelled kids of my age(I was eight at the time I think) to learn 100 verses of the Bible by heart, reciting them off the top of our heads across different churches, and winning a number of competitions in the process. Of course, what that meant for me was that I had to do a lot of reading.
Reading became my way of escape, it still is. The younger me would throw herself into any kind of book at all, any — I wasn’t restricted. My parents weren’t too much of readers. Yes, my dad occasionally read some newspaper articles and my mum was devoutly committed to reading the Bible or any other religious book they sold at any of those conventions she liked attending, but we didn’t have any of those fancy libraries some writers pride themselves of having while growing up. What this also meant was that I had to source for my own books, and of course that left me hunting wild and with multitude of options(one would think I was reading those books they have for the literally disturbed).
This brings me to the one time in high school when someone brought a sex-themed novel to class and I took it home to read. You see, we used to take turns back then(anyone remembers this?) and it was my turn. The book became too much of a treasure that I lied to the owner about my parents confiscating it just so I could have it forever, and like I said I had so much freedom that nobody really found out what I was reading for a long time, I also believe I got my first in-depth sexual orientation from the book. But my sister would get bored one day and pick up the book to read, and of course she had always been more reasonable and religious, so she would throw it out and I would lose the book forever.
Still my taste in books varied a lot, so much that I was without an identity whatsoever as a reader for long. At different phases of my life, I read the books I was exposed to, but that one thing had always been constant — I read. Back in the days, romance novels were readily available, I mean the road-side book stores paraded more Nora Roberts’ books than they did any work of Wole Soyinka(not that it would have been a great read then anyway), so I read a lot of Mills and Boon, Harlequin(the equestrian adventures and thrillers were my favorite).
At another point I was highly influenced by my sister’s collection of Love Inspired novels, and of course when all those couldn’t satisfy as I was pretty much insatiable, I went on a personal search. In my search, I found myself in the world of personal development books. But I now had one problem, I had been conditioned to one way of reading — sit with a book until you’re done. It was the one way I knew how, and I could finish a number of books in one sitting, so I read the personal development books in that manner too — and that was far less than acceptable. I had no idea that you do not read those kind of books like you would a Stephen King’s. They obviously had some rules and according to a friend I had been breaking them, so I had to be taught the ‘proper’ way of reading, and that was where my problem with reading began. Needless to say I lost interest in reading those genre of books and other books in general.
But this post is about how I started reading again right? I know. I just felt like giving a background as regards why I stopped would get us all on the same page.
So I remember sometime last year, I decided I was going to take up the habit again. And below are the few steps I took to get me started:
- I made the decision to start reading again. Truth is, like most things in life, picking up a habit you dropped involves taking a conscious step back. It means you have to see reasons why should even think about doing that thing again. So, I decided that I loved the feeling I got from reading back when I was a devout reader and would like to relive that feeling over and over again.
- I started buying the kind of books that sparked my interest, books that are centered around the things I am attracted to, basically the kind of books I would write(this is totally a whimsical exaggeration). This time, I promised myself I wasn’t going to be boxed in by the genre thing, and so I let myself go, and soon I found that my taste became shaped — this always happens, even when you don’t plan it.
- I joined a book club. Actually, a book club and a read club(forget the different names, I think they mean the same thing). The book club has a ‘one book a month’ ritual, and what that means is that as a member you read at least 12 books a year(not bad really). So, I thought this was something to brag about, and I mentioned it to my flat-mate, she looked at me in a weird way and said— “What!? We read a minimum of 4 books a month in my read club” and that was how I got introduced to the other read club. They have both been worth it really. It’s the third week in the year and I’m on my third book, even if they’re not necessarily books from the clubs. The good thing is now I have conditioned myself to reading at least one(1) book a week, and it’s been a great feeling for me.
- I stopped making plans about when to read, at least for the most part. I figured that being all too formal and deliberate may not always work, so I decided that I would pick up whatever book I was reading at whim every time I get a spare moment — the ride between home and the office, the wait at a client’s place, the program I’m forced to attend but I’d rather be elsewhere, I realized that we all had those in-betweens that we never really maximize, so I started making good use of mine. It doesn’t always work, but it mostly does.
Generally, I can name a few other things that have helped me pick up this old habit, but these are basically the important ones. I hope you find them useful.
Photo Credit: thejesuitpost.org