So let’s say you want to read more—but, somehow, it’s not happening. You’ve chosen a book and you’ve decided when you want to read, but when it comes down to it, you always end up doing something other than reading.
Why does that happen?
There could be a lot of reasons. You might be really busy right now—during the last few months of university, I read only two or three books over a six-month period. You might have other responsibilities that you’re choosing to prioritize right now, and that’s absolutely fine—we all have to choose how we’re going to spend our time.
But let’s assume for a moment that neither of these really explains why you’re not reading. You’re busy, but not that busy: you still have time for mindless social media scrolling, so in theory, you should have time to read. You have other responsibilities, but you do value reading, and you would like to make it a priority—but something keeps getting in the way. If this description resonates with you as well as it does with me, here are three reasons why you might not be reading, even though you want to:
#1: You’re reading boring books.
Maybe you’re just not that into the books you’ve been reading.
I think a lot of people fall into this trap: they get a book recommendation from a friend or someone they trust, so they get the book and start reading it—but it’s just not holding their interest, they’re not that invested in it, and at the end of the day there are ten different things they would rather do than read that book.
Some people force themselves to keep reading anyway. It takes them forever to finish the book, and once they’re done, they’re reluctant to start another book and go through the same thing all over again.
Others decide they’re “not readers.” They didn’t enjoy reading that book everyone seemed to rave about, so they decide they just don’t know how to appreciate good books—so they give up on reading and focus on other pursuits instead.
Here’s the thing: not every book is for every reader. The books your best friend loves might do absolutely nothing for you—and the books you enjoy might seem dull or uninspiring to your friend. If you’re not reading, there’s a possibility you aren’t reading books that are interesting to you.
#2: You don’t know why you’re reading.
There are a million and one demands on your attention every single day. We tend to live by the tyranny of the urgent, allowing ourselves to be pulled after the most urgent tasks on our to-do lists.
Chances are, though, that the most important things in your life never make it into the “urgent” category.
All the really important things in life—things prayer, exercise, healthy eating, and (of course) reading—aren’t things that someone else is forcing us to do. They aren’t things that have a firm deadline, like “you must do this by [whatever date] or you’ll lose the job/fail the class/get charged a late fee/etc.” The only way you’ll ever accomplish any of these important but not urgent things is if you know why you’re doing them—why are they important to you?
So, why are you reading? Do you want to learn a skill, or look at the world from a different point of view? Do you want to learn something about human nature? Do you just want an evening pastime that’s better for your brain than watching television?
It doesn’t really matter what your reason is as long as you have one. If you’re not reading, it could be because you don’t know why it’s worth the effort.
If you’re struggling to come up with a reason for your reading, here are 3 reasons I believe reading fiction is worth my time.
#3: You don’t know how to relax.
There’s another reason you might not be reading—and this one’s a little deeper than the other two. Reading requires you to sit still, to focus on one thing for a period of time. It requires you to set aside all the other things on your to-do list, breathe, and settle in.
And for some of us, that settling down doesn’t come easy.
It’s easy to allow our schedules to fill until they’re too full, until we’re stretched so thin we have to rush to make it from one activity or task to the next. We grow accustomed to being on the go all the time, and we allow commitment after commitment to push our times of quietness and rest farther and farther to the edges of our lives until we don’t even know what it’s like to rest, to pause, to stop all our doing and going and rushing and just be.
If you feel antsy when you sit down to read—if your mind can’t stop jumping from one thought to the next long enough to focus on the words you’re trying to take in—there’s a possibility that you don’t know how to relax at all, and the consequences of that stretch a lot farther than not reading as much as you’d like.
Margin is a choice—your choice. It doesn’t have to take long.
What stands between you and reading? Have you found any solutions to these or other obstacles in your own life? Please share your thoughts in the comments!