There are three types of people in the world. (1) People who seldom read a book in their lifetime, especially after the end of their formal education. (2) People who have loved reading as long as they can remember. (3) And then there are people who slowly grow fond of reading with time.
I belong to this third group. I always loved playing with technology and hated books. Until I stumbled upon an interesting thought: “A good book is definitely the best bargain you’ll ever get in your life”. I love good bargains and a book is definitely the best one.
You pay somewhere between $3 and $30 for a book. The same price as a latte. But unlike sugared coffee, the book stays with you forever.
After you buy a book, you have to invest around 7 – 10 hours to read it (this is the most important part when we talk about books), which is quite a big investment, but please mind all the benefits.
First of all, the author had to spend months and months writing down their thoughts, life experiences or materializing their imagination. By reading the book, you get an opportunity to enter someone else’s mind, find out how they think and perceive the world.
You get a chance to see the world through different eyes.
By reading a book you automatically expand your mind, improve your vocabulary, train your creative potential and analytical skills, improve empathy and much more. You do a brain workout while disengaging from everyday worries.
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The benefits of reading a book are completely unfair compared to the investment.
The gains of reading are a no-brainer. But how to grow fond of reading? Actually, you are only around 30 days away from being indifferent about books to falling in love with reading. And it’s the habit that can change your life forever.
The process that will help you fall in love with reading
As I mentioned, I used to hate reading. Now I love reading. It’s the number one activity on my enjoyment list. But how did such a transformation happen?
It’s not really that hard to become a bookworm. I followed a very simple strategy:
- Find the right topic. In the beginning, it’s essential to find a topic you’re really passionate about. The more passionate you are, the easier it will be to stay with a good book; or several of them. I started with books about ancient Roman Emperors, then startups, and today my passion is psychology. Just go to the library or browse book categories on Amazon until you find something that really fits your interest well. Alternatively, you can ask yourself: if you were a teacher what topic would you teach others?
- Carefully choose the book. There are more than 1 million new published (300,000) and self‑published books (700,000) each year only in the English language. That’s more than 2,500 new books every single day. You can choose from among more than 130 million books that have already been published. If you don’t put the effort into choosing a really interesting one, you’ll lose interest. Go for the best books on the chosen topic and take some time to do the research, read a free chapter, reviews, forum discussions, quotes and comments.
- The cat rule. When a cat bears her young ones, she carries them around wherever she goes. You should do the same with your book. Resting on a couch. Have a book with you. Doing the number two. Have a book with you. Enjoying lunch break at your job. Have a book with you. Wherever you go, make sure that the book is with you. Sooner or later, you’ll open it and start reading. And you will absolutely stand out in crowds, in a very positive way.
- Don’t go to sleep if you don’t read at least one page. Set a goal to read at least 30 minutes every day. Sometimes you’ll manage it, other times it will be too exhausting. You will be too tired, too busy or completely unmotivated. It doesn’t matter. The only rule to really follow is to never go to sleep if you haven’t read at least one page of the book. One page. It takes 2 – 5 minutes. Come on.
- Think with your own head. You can be a passive or an active reader. Being an active reader is so much more interesting and fun. So, while you read, force yourself to think a little bit; or rather think hard. Vividly imagine the scenes, the plot, the characters or whatever the content is about. Connect explanations in the book with your own life experience. Consider where you agree with the author and where you don’t. Look up new words and try to memorize them.
If you follow these five rules, you will sooner or later read your first book, and then the second one and the third one and so on. Once you witness how your love for reading grows, you will face a new challenge – how to read as much as possible.
There are many tricks to make more time to read, but one of the best way to push yourself into reading more is to join or create a reading challenge for yourself.
Reading challenges can greatly accelerate your reading motivation
Challenging yourself is always a good way to develop a new habit or to complete a very demanding task. That’s why 30-day challenges are a very popular concept in new habit development theory.
In the past, I’ve completed several different 30-day challenges, among others the challenge to write and publish a blog post every day.
A 30-day challenge to read every single day might be a good start at the very beginning, if you are really not fond of reading. But once you are a pretty regular reader, such a challenge is easy-peasy.
Luckily there are many tougher reading challenges to undertake. Let’s look at the concept of real reading challenges.
Popular reading challenges
There are communities all over the world that organize all kinds of reading challenges. Joining such a challenge not only motivates you to read more frequently, but you also get a chance to meet new people, share opinions and perspectives on books, and engage in interesting discussions.
Most reading challenges are based on one of the following frameworks or reading strategies:
- The “tutti frutti” challenge – Tutti frutti stands for “all fruits” in Italian. It’s usually associated with gelato (ice cream) that’s made of mixed fruits. I use the same term for reading challenges where you read all kinds of different books, from poetry to classic literature and non-fiction. Participating in such a challenge will greatly broaden your horizons in a very short time frame.
- Deep dive into one topic – If you read three to five books on a selected topic, you’ll know more about the topic than 90% of the people. Find one topic you are really or just a little bit interested in and start learning. Not only will you become a much more interesting person, soon you will find out that knowledge is real power.
- Genre or author specific – The third kind of challenges are genre‑specific. The selected genre can be anything from business to personal development or psychological thrillers. The books can also be related to a specific author, topic or even a fictional character such as Sherlock Holmes.
- Book Club challenges – Many book clubs organize different types of reading challenges. You can find online and real-life book clubs, supported by meetups, forums, real life chats or professionally organized events where you can ask authors anything you want.
- Summer reading challenges – Christmas is usually associated with deepening personal relationships. And summer always seems like a relaxing period of the year, perfect for reading a good book or several of them. Thus, you can find many different summer reading challenges together with book recommendations.
Not to talk only about theory, here are some popular annual reading challenges:
- GoodReads Reading Challenge
- Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge
- Penguin Random House Reading Challenges
- Around the Year in 52 Books
- The Seasonal Reading Challenge (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall)
- Novel Knight Beat The Blacklist
- Popsugar Reading Challenge
- Master List of 2017 Reading Challenges
- Pinterest Book Challenge Infographics Collection
If you need a good idea for which book to read, Goodread’s Listopedia is a very good start. Then don’t forget to check Goodreads reviews and Amazon reviews for every book before you read it, and you can also find a good summary or read a few free pages on Amazon Preview to get a feeling about the author’s style.
Research is really important before you buy and start reading a book. And if you are looking for a real-life book club, try to find one on the Meetup Platform or contact your local library.
My summer reading challenge
For years now, I’ve been reading on a daily basis. Besides regular exercise it’s probably one of the most beneficial habits I acquired. Since I always love challenging myself, not doing a reading challenge would almost be a sin.
Rather than joining a formal reading challenge, I decided to build one for myself. I like to stay flexible and adjust my life settings and goals to situational circumstances; what and how I read is no exception in that.
Here are the bottom lines of my current situation, when it comes to reading and writing:
- I’m putting together a book (“blog to book” with a few extras). But that means it’s hard to simultaneously produce quality content for the blog and putting together a book.
- I have been writing new blog posts for more than a year and a half now. I strive to make every blog post an outstanding piece of content. That takes hard work. A short break from putting together my own quality content would be nice.
- I have a real desire to dramatically build up my knowledge about psychology. I feel like a vessel that needs to be filled with new knowledge. Thus, I currently strongly prefer reading than writing my own content. I want to take advantage of that feeling.
These are the three facts, I decided to build my reading challenge on. What I decided to do in particular is to read 10 books on psychologyuntil the end of the summer (5 traditional authors like Freud, Ericson, Rogers and 5 contemporary authors) and, of course, write really extensive summaries of the books.
I will try to publish a new summary every 7 to 10 days from end of June to end of September.
That’s the reading challenge I will do this summer. The next summer, I will probably read 10 books from one single author. And the summer after that, I might do the “tutti frutti” reading challenge. And then who knows what I might come up with.
If you like a good challenge, why not try the reading challenge. If you are not that fond of reading, it can be one of the toughest challenges you could undertake. But tough builds character.
And if you already love reading, why not challenge yourself in some innovative ways, like reading books on subjects you never read before, or test your limits when it comes to reading; you know, just for fun.