How I Returned to Reading Deeply once again
Three weeks ago, I decided to do two things: Remove the Instagram app from my phone till 2021 and start writing every day on Medium.
The intention for the first habit was simple: Attempt to reduce time spent on social media to the bare minimum. Thanks to the Digital Wellbeing app on my phone, I realized that the Instagram app was the most addictive and the one that I kept opening multiple times through the day.
To my absolute delight, a third habit re-formed magically and that was the art of reading more deeply.
I say re-formed because reading is one of my oldest and most loved hobbies.
How I returned to reading
When I re-created my schedule for the day based on the time gained away from social media, reading offered itself as a suitable substitute for scrolling through my phone.
Created time pockets for reading
So, I went ahead and created two pockets of reading time:
a) Post lunch, which is when I tend to get super sleepy and not given to much deep work
b) Just before bed, when I want to relax my mind and drift off into peaceful slumber
Setting a fixed time to read instead of picking up the phone was a brilliant idea because I never had to ask myself, ‘Okay, what do I do now?’
Reading just became the default response.
I added these time blocks on my daily calendar and split them into Kindle reading time and paperback reading time.
E-books and paperbacks
For too long there has been this debate about whether e-books are better than paperbacks and I confess I added to it myself a long time ago.
But over time, I have realized that reading is the most important thing: the medium is incidental.
The afternoon slot I devoted to the Kindle, because I was attempting to reduce screen usage before bed. I love the Kindle because it can hold so many of my e-books at once and finding a book to read is never a problem.
The night slot I devoted to my rather large paperback collection at home, which includes a wide variety of books that all three of us — my husband, my daughter and I- read with abundant interest.
This includes everything from classics like Dr Seuss and Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie and Wodehouse to memoirs of spies from the MOSSAD and neurosurgeons who died from cancer.
The joys of re-reading
Next, I chose to allow for re-reading of books in addition to reading new ones.
I call this comfort reading, much like comfort food. You need these when you think you have ‘nothing to read’, when in fact you actually have an entire library of books at home.
Too much is made of constantly reading newer and newer books (thanks to challenges like the Goodreads one every year) and very little is devoted to the idea of reading for its primary purpose: Sheer joy and happiness.
You know that Japanese term ‘Tsundoku’? That’s where you keep buying books and never reading them.
When you pick up a reading habit again, remember Tsundoku and steer clear of it. Start with the books you have already and lose yourself in the simple joys they offer.
For instance, my personal Wodehouse collection is something I can turn to comfortably for the rest of the year and well into 2021.
Knowing all of this and dis-engaging from my phone has been the best gift to myself in 2020.
Reading isn’t dead and let’s ensure that it stays that way.