"I wish I read more books."
"If only I had the time, I would love to read the [insert name] series."
"It's just too much effort to read. I'd rather watch a show or a movie."

If you're anything like me, you've had thoughts like these. How many people do you know who would like to read regularly, but don't because they don't have the time, can't keep their focus, and various other excuses?

It's one of those things I enjoy having done, but the activation energy is just too high.

This wasn't always the case

I was in primary school when I first started reading for fun. My brother gave me the first Harry Potter book, and I fell in love with it. I quickly become obsessed with the series and read cover-to-cover all the books that were out at the time. I'd read them over lunch time, after homework, before going to bed. Similarly I delved into lots of other series. So what happened?

It was in Grade 4 that I once received a bad result at school. It wasn't the worst, but bad enough that I knew I needed to spend more time with my course books rather than books I read for fun. Slowly over the years, I resolved to read only books with some immediate benefit, that could help keep my grades up, rather than the books I read for fun. If I was reading, why not read the highest impact books, right?

Conditioning at school

School doesn't help either. We are taught to read specific assigned texts, memorise the concepts in them for examination, and then in most cases, forget those concepts to make room for new concepts. We get praised for retaining information from these assigned texts, but no one's going to praise you for reading Lord of the Rings in your spare time. It's absolutely not the right mindset to only do things you get praised for, but it's hard to know that when you're a kid.

The line between reading for fun and reading for work / school also becomes increasingly blurred. You read because you have to, not because you enjoy it, and before long your mind learns to make a connection between "reading" and "work".

One solution: Audiobooks

I was a bit late to the bandwagon, and started listening to audiobooks just this year - but it has been a game changer! An audiobook takes away 2 of the biggest barriers in reading books:

  • Getting the motivation to do "work" in your free time: Now, instead of playing your Spotify in the background, you can just as easily resume your audiobook with no extra effort. Instead of having to make the effort to go through a book, it's read to you. A no-brainer!
  • Having to dedicate your full focus to the book: For me the best part of listening to an audiobook is being able to multi-task. You can go for a walk, go cycling, do your work around the house, while making it more interesting than just listening to some music that you've heard a million times before.

If you haven't yet tried it out, it's definitely one for your to-do list. It's easy to find pretty much any book on Audible, and you can start with a free trial. Give it a go!