How To Read More Books

I’m hardly qualified for this post, as I’m not a great reader. I’m barely a reader at all. Well, that is not exactly true. I’m a reader in the sense that my Grandmother is a gamer because she plays Candy Crush. I read the news, Youtube comments, messages on my phone and the occasional pamphlet. I even read a book now and then. Reading books though was never enjoyable, it was never something I’d look forward to, it was always something I had to do. Whether it was to get a D on my English Literature exam at school*, or read the instructions to build an IKEA wardrobe, it always came down to necessity, but I wanted to change this.

I’m not entirely sure why? I do have a faint memory of a speech in which some speaker said reading enhances the brain in ways which other dissemination of knowledge can’t. Although I rather suspect I wanted to read books because I wear glasses, and as we all know, people with glasses read lots of books. It is a lot to live up to. I mean, I didn’t choose to have poor eyesight nor did anyone prepare me for the unwelcome burden of expected intelligence. Yet I took on this challenge as I have all other challenges in my life; passively doing nothing until someone notices.

The first person to notice was my English teacher. We had been given the book ‘Of Mice and Men’ to read for our final exam and it looked great. It had a really nice cover and wasn’t a very big book, maybe 8cm wide; 15cm tall, and it was very thin, which was great because my desk was uneven and putting it under one of the legs really helped. Why on Earth would I read a book when there is a perfectly good film of the same name? Well, that would be because George doesn’t hesitate to shoot Lennie in the film, but, as I would later find out, has quite a difficult time of it in the book. In retrospect, I was happy to get a D grade.

Surprisingly though this rather large nudge to read more didn’t spark me into action – apart from a random afternoon as a teenager when I read the David Pelzer book ‘A Child Called It’. I didn’t buy it and to this day I don’t know where it came from, or even where it went but I read it from cover to cover in a day. It was a flash in the pan.

The TV was more my thing, if I’ve read one book (and I have, I just mentioned that in the last paragraph) then I’ve seen 1,000 movies. They would grip me, and take me to places I’ve never seen or could even imagine. It would make me feel things and think things. After Karate Kid I’d pretend to wax the car and after Toy Story, I’d melt down all my toys to prevent them from coming to life. I couldn’t get enough of film.

I think this is where my issue with books begins. I was raised in the 90s when even working class people could afford get a big TV and this disproportionate expenditure meant the humble TV had to transmorph between entertainment system and the worlds first robotic child care device. They have since been overtaken by the household tablet, but they’re still a significant influence. Naturally, it made my eyes square, but furthermore, it pounded me with stimulation. Flashing lights! Lound noises! Cute animals! Stimulation! More stimulation!

Then you see a book and it just, well, is. It sits there, not moving, not dancing and not doing much at all. I thought they were supposed to be ‘spellbinding’*, stupendous adventures that burst from the page. They were supposed to grab me and move me in ways that only a book can. Yet, when I saw a book it was just… a book. A few bits of paper enveloped by some slightly harder paper.

And so, I’d go back to the TV. Back to be blasted with stimulation once more, and when that wasn’t enough I played computer games, and when that wasn’t enough I’d play on my phone – sometimes I’d be a real badman and be on both at the same time. I just couldn’t get enough stimulation.

I don’t know the exact moment, but eventually, it dawned on me that maybe this ‘stimulation’ was in fact just white noise. Maybe it was not stimulating at all, but in fact, stealing… me. TV is a one-way road, there is no thought and no imagination required. It is the perfect ‘switch off and relax’ device, except maybe I was switching off and relaxing just a bit too much. Maybe the reason the pages of a book don’t come alive is they require more proactivity. I have to make the book come to life, I have to imagine, and I have to go on the adventure. The book, unlike TV, doesn’t take you anywhere, you take yourself there with its help – It is a two-way street. And unlike a book, TV will make you keep watching no matter how bad it is.

I put a lot of faith into this idea and 5 years after deciding to not have a TV anymore I have read 50 books. That is a rather coincidental 10 books a year – slow going by many accounts but I was previously averaging 1 book every 24 years prior to that so chill out Grandma. I should also say that it wasn’t quite a seamless transition into a bookworm (with glasses). I did sit on the couch staring at the wall where the TV would have been and twiddled my thumbs for a few weeks before I got bored enough to look at paper.

On a side note, I should also say that my book reading increased dramatically further this year when it took 6 weeks for a guy to replace the battery in my laptop. During this time I read 14 books. Although I’m strongly implying getting rid of my laptop will increase my reading further, it would make this blog post rather difficult to write. A black and white solution isn’t necessary though, as we can just enter the wonderful world of compromise and begin ‘Technology Free Days’ or as I like the call them TFDEESE*. Two a week to start with and let’s see how I go.

So there we have it; the secret to reading more books. Destroy your TV, don’t use technology for two days a week and you will be bored enough to pick up a book and realise they’re not that bad after all. You may even grow to like them. If not they’re still pretty good at levelling an uneven desk.

Paul Green

*Thank you.

*Only ever hear that word in reference to books.

*Not only do I not call them that, I didn’t come up with the idea. It was a friend of mine. Cheers, Phil.

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36 Comments

  1. Reality Challenged

    Don’t judge a book by its…dimensions?

    This paragraph had me laughing and remember HS english all over again, thanks for that: “We had been given the book ‘Of Mice and Men’ to read for our final exam and it looked great. It had a really nice cover and wasn’t a very big book, maybe 8cm wide; 15cm tall, and it was very thin, which was great because my desk was uneven and putting it under one of the legs really helped.”

    On point. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Girl From Jupiter

    I’m still laughing about how you felt you should be a reader because you wear glasses. 😂 I sometimes wish I wore glasses to fit my geeky bookworm self-image. 🤓 And yes, as an avid reader, I absolutely agree that the biggest key to reading more is doing away with the technology. The second key (reserved for extremists like me) is to have no social life. That might get pretty dull without books.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. TracyEllen Carson Webb

    There is a downside to technology free days. I have over 2000 books in my Kindle library. And my public library has e-books galore. But I do believe that turning off electronics except for my books is a great idea. Well maybe I’ll leave the music playing on my phone for background noise.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. TracyEllen Carson Webb

            My favorite author is Anne McCaffrey. She writes mostly science fiction. I also read lots of romance novels because they’re quick reads. And you can get them free. I also like cozy mysteries. Don’t like horror. No Steven King. Another favorite author is Clive Cussler. He writes action adventure novels. Think Hunt for Red October. I follow several free book sites. Bookbub & Kindle nation are the best. Good luck. I would suggest that you start at your local library. Find something you like to read and then see what else that author writes. Then you can google “authors who write like …” Good luck on your adventures because that’s what I feel reading is.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. evanaweb

    Great post… I experienced a similar situation when I moved to a different country for a couple of months and no TV and limited internet… Like you, I was always a book-fan, but between choosing books and spending time on the internet I would always go for the latter. After being ‘forced’ to find other means of passing my time, I have now realized what I have been missing out on this whole time, and even though I now have all the TV and internet that I could ever hope for, by no means do I want to transition back to my old ways of living.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mandy

    Loved this post. You are a great writer so I suspect you’ve read plenty. Technology is evil and I’m doing my best to cut back. You’re right, you do read more without being plugged in!😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 80smetalman

    One reason to read the book instead of the seeing the movie is except in one case, “Jaws,” the book is always better than the film. The film tends to leave out bits which the reader found important in the book. That is one reason why I would be nervous if they made films of either of my two novels. Saying that, my first book, “Rock and Roll Children,” would be cool as a film because there would be the potential for lots of live concert footage.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. helentastic67

    Ok, when you say read more books! I hear watch more TV(Shuddup! Wait!) I’ve lost half of my eyesight making reading the making of migraines……….I moved to comics……still requires reading of pictures not words. Glad you found something that works for you. I go off-grid 2 days a week so I can avoid doing “adult/person!” And so I can catch up on all the TV! Cheers,H

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ejb117

    Yaaaaay – another post from mindfump! And It’s even about one of my favourite things – books! I pretty much gave up watching TV after multiple eye surgeries and have found it quite liberating. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

          1. ejb117

            Yep – retinal detachment surgery is pretty grim! My eyes are stable for now which is the most I can hope for at the moment. So what eye surgery did you have? I’m kind of intrigued in all things eye related these days…

            Like

  9. sadiewolf2014

    Hey, you’re back, so great to see your post (or have I just been missing your posts, in which case, I sincerely apologise!!!!)
    Your writing is so good, and your content/ideas are too.
    This made me laugh out loud:
    ‘I mean, I didn’t choose to have poor eyesight nor did anyone prepare me for the unwelcome burden of expected intelligence. Yet I took on this challenge as I have all other challenges in my life; passively doing nothing until someone notices.’
    And your observations on watching and giving up tv are sharp, love this:
    ‘…Maybe it was not stimulating at all, but in fact, stealing… me. ….. ‘ ‘The book, unlike TV, doesn’t take you anywhere, you take yourself there with its help – It is a two-way street. And unlike a book, TV will make you keep watching no matter how bad it is.
    And your book reading figure is very impressive, don’t think it isn’t. People post about doing reading challenges so it can seem like everyone reads a lot, but lots of people don’t read at all.
    I too gave up tv about 9 years ago and never looked back. Have yet to introduce tech free days but have talked about it, was going to call it WiFi Free Wednesdays! I had this idea about trying to get everyone in i the village to join in, but my husband thought thst was going a bit far.
    I hope you are well
    Wishing you all the best
    Rachel

    Liked by 1 person

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