What does it mean to make an intentional practice of reading? For me, it’s a way of life. When I was younger, I absolutely loved to read all the time. In elementary school, after I finished an assignment I would tuck my latest read inside a workbook and proceed to read about the BFG while the rest of my class worked on multiplying. This didn’t always go well. “Alex, what is there to read in your math book?” my teacher would ask. “There are only blank times tables in there!” As I got older and my homework load increased, I found less and less time to read. I could no longer bank on free time during school or afternoons without sports practices. Instead, I had to make time, and my intentional practice of reading was born.
Adopting an intentional practice of reading is easier and more fun than it sounds! It’s about being thoughtful in your reading choices and planning ahead to enjoy your picks. Here are my five tips for trying it out:
1. Make a list
I often find someone will give me a book suggestion, and by the time I go to the library I’ve forgotten the title. Making a list of authors and titles is a great way to avoid confusion and can help you remember to check out cool reads you wouldn’t otherwise come across.
2. Try something new
One of my favorite literary discoveries in high school was the essay. No, it’s not what your thinking! I’m talking about reading essays – fun, interesting, strange, mystifying, awesome essays – which are, unsurprisingly, much shorter than books. You can also check out books that are essay collections, and read one piece at a time. For a fun introduction, I suggest Bossypants by Tina Fey.
Once you’ve found a book, article, or essay, make time to read it! You don’t need to finish the whole thing in one sitting – 15 minutes before you go to sleep is plenty of time to dive in.
4. Sit Back, Relax, Enjoy
Explore different reading environments, like your local park, a new café, or even your own backyard to see what works for you.
5. Invite A Friend
Create your own informal book club! Discovering a great book is that much more fun when you can discuss it with a friend over snacks.
by Alex Z. ’15
Image sources: School Librarian’s Workshop; Pietro Magni – The Reading Girl (La Leggitrice), model 1856, carved 1861 (photo by takomabibelot on Flickr.com); Fragonard, Jean-Honoré French Young Girl Reading c. 1770 (photo by The National Gallery of Art)