I’ve been working like crazy on my reading habit lately. In general, I’m terrible at it. I tend to have 4 or 5 partially read books around me, at any given time. I have 160 articles currently saved in my pocket, for later. As much as I try to recover from that number, I always seem to be behind. If I forced myself to consume two of the older ones and two of the newer ones every day, it would take me 40 days to clear the backlog. And I probably add 4 more every day. My reading aspirations seem to far outweigh my reading capability.
I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried to make Tom set aside a certain time, every day, just for reading. But Tom is a terribly elusive person with a mind of his own that likes to pick his particular passions pertinaciously at any point in the past or present. He’s apparently randomly alliterative at times, too.
I’ve checked out all the books on the subject. I’ve read the timeless How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler. And when I say I’ve read it I mean that I have a partially read copy around here somewhere begging me to stop being pertinacious and finish it. Terribly ironic, that. That book, by the way is on everyone’s “how to start a reading habit” list. If you ever want to start a reading habit, or finish someone else’s list, check it out.
If you like a more modern take on how to improve your reading time and retention, try Ryan Holiday. He’s got a load of articles on the subject and, despite his busy schedule, seems to find time to finish 20 books a month. That, to me, is ungodly and personally insulting.
I’m doing better, though. I’ve finished (finished!) 3 books in the last 3 weeks. A book a week is pretty damn good by my standards. I did it by making myself read one book at a time, and by enjoying the time doing it until it’s done.
That last reason is the most important. I can’t remember if it was the advice of Ryan Holiday or Dylan Andersen (two of my favorite modern muses) that got me reading for enjoyment again, but I’m glad it came. It’s changed my life. At the very least it’s changed the life of my books, who are happy to be consumed and cataloged away again.
I’m going to continue to do that, most of all. Read for pleasure. I’m not going to set aside a certain time that I must read or set a goal of how many books I must finish. None of that. I’m just going to go find me some shade (or a warm blanket in the winter), and read. As often as possible. As often as I want to. And now that I take great pleasure in it again, “as often as I want to” seems to be all the time.
Now if I can only figure out what to do with that pocket …