My Mini Library: Somehow still managing within that tiny book shelf :P Reading Habit
Books

My Journey with Books: How I Cultivated the Reading Habit

I never had the reading habit. But, the good news is –

The act of reading is a skill that can be cultivated.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita.

As a child, I aspired to become a “Police”, which later changed to a “Pilot.”

Among many other reasons for such aspiration, one was that – I wanted to get into a profession which would take me away from books and reading.

Who would have thought I would end up in a profession which will require me to read each and every day, for the rest of my life; I ended up becoming a lawyer by profession!

But before you think I hate my profession, let me be clear, I love my profession; I love being a lawyer. Law is probably one of the best things that happened to me; it made me what I am today.

What law also did was, it made me less repulsive towards books. I got a little bit of reading habit. In fact, during my college days, library became one of my favourite places to hangout with myself in the company of books all around.

So, let me share how did that change happen from running away from books to having my own mini library.

My current read: An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor
My current read: An Era of Darkness by Shashi Tharoor
Reading Habit: What’s That?

As you might have understood by now, reading didn’t come to me naturally.

Apart from the textbooks that we were required to read academically, I actually never read anything else as a child.

In my typical middle-class family, reading was never treated as an activity or a hobby; no one in my family had the reading habit, except reading newspapers. My father remained busy with making ends meet for us, and my mother remained busy with nurturing her three children and managing their tantrums.

Even after becoming an adult and making “reading” an essential part of my academic and professional life, I didn’t move further.

Just like everyone else, I always found reasons, or rather excuses, not to read anything non-legal; reasons like lack of interest, lack of time, not on priority, etc. were good enough for me to not even think about reading seriously.

I try to read about a country before/while visiting it.
I try to read about a country before/while visiting it.
Humble Beginnings

Things changed for me when I started taking charge of my life. In order to improve the quality of my life, I started inculcating good habits consciously.

Of course, I knew that reading is a good habit. So, reading became one of things that I wanted to try consciously, at least once.

But, how many of us take this excuse of “being busy” when we, in fact, spend so much time online/on social media/on mobile. With time I have realized that if you really want to do something, you will always find out ways to do it anyhow; and if you don’t really want to do something, then you will always have tons of reasons/excuses for not doing it.

I wanted to give reading a fair chance. So, I forced myself to read books that were in no way related to my profession i.e. non-law books.

Credit also goes to my husband, who was also struggling with the reading habit. And we both decided together to give it an honest try.

Reading self-improvement books is like creating a mental savings account from which we can withdraw viable tools for what we perceive as tough days.” ― Dr. Jacent Mpalyenkana.

So, I started with small self-help books (of course size matters when you are not a reader!). One book at a time.

I tend to read books related to conflict issues. ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger
I tend to read books related to conflict issues. ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger
No Fiction, Please!

Because I have cultivated the reading habit over the years, I find it difficult to pick up fiction to read.

I always felt, since I am making so much effort to read, I might as well read something which is not a product of someone’s imagination.

Trust me, I have nothing against people who love fiction; in fact, I think the actual book lovers love to read fiction; but, somehow I couldn’t do it. So, I stuck with the so-called boring category of books – the non-fiction.

But honestly, I don’t find non-fiction boring. Ok, some non-fiction books are boring, but not all. There is so much variety even in non-fiction like biographies, autobiographies, travelogues, memoirs, self-help, satire, historical, etc.

I have such a long list of to-read non-fiction books now that I don’t feel the urge to read fiction. I have read couple of classic fiction pieces and although I enjoyed them, in the end I have my heart with non-fiction only.

In all fairness, I did try reading good fiction books. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
In all fairness, I did try reading good fiction books. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Arranged marriage with books

Instead of a love marriage, I call my relationship with books as an arranged marriage; I was the one who arranged that marriage though. And with time, we got along quite well and our love blossomed. But, just like a normal relationship, I had to nurture it. And I did so by taking small steps that mattered.

1. Read every day

I made sure to meet my book every day. So, I read every day, even if just one para or one page, when life got too busy. Every one wants to be loved, and not feel ignored!

2. Find what you enjoy

I experimented with different kinds of books to find out which genre I really enjoy reading (as it turned out, I enjoy non-fiction :P). This is not cheating thankfully!

3. Take out time

I stopped watching TV. In any case, TV is an idiot box and I realized I have already wasted enough of time being an idiot!

I make sure to visit at least one old book store in any new country I visit. Pic: Exploring an old book store at Yangoon, Myanmar.
I make sure to visit at least one old book store in any new country I visit. Pic: Exploring an old book store at Yangoon, Myanmar.
4. Be disciplined

I dedicated specific times in a day to read. I read on my way to office, which was good 45min-1hr away; and I read before going to bed. The cup of knowledge is filled one drop at a time!

5. Be accountable

I made small targets, right from reading at least one page a day, to reading every day, to finishing a book in a given time period. Every time I achieved those small targets, it boosted my confidence.

6. Have variety

There is no rule to read just one book at a time. Sometime, I read four-five book simultaneously, depending on my mood. For example – some books are light and quick read, whereas some are quite heavy and lengthy. So, I read based on my mood and preference at that given moment.

When I am not traveling, I can be found reading a travelogue :D Can We Live Here by Sarah Alderson
When I am not traveling, I can be found reading a travelogue 😀 Can We Live Here by Sarah Alderson
Try it once!

I am so proud of myself for cultivating the reading habit. On one hand, it is no big deal; but on the other hand, it is an achievement on a personal level because of the time and effort it involved.

In the end, I can say – I have hooked on to reading; simply because I have seen what huge impact books have had on me in shaping the way I think, in moulding my perspective about life and people and in bringing out my character.

Make reading your hobby, even if you don’t like to read. You will learn things that will prove useful when you least expect it.” ― Neelabh Pratap Singh.

So, if you want to change your life for good, start reading, and start reading good books!

My Mini Library: Somehow still managing within that tiny book shelf :P Reading Habit
My Mini Library: Somehow still managing within that tiny book shelf 😛

Reading is for EVERYONE.

If you think that you hate reading; probably, you just don’t know which book you enjoy. Just find out what works for you.

Before this generation lose the wisdom, one advice – read books.” ― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in traveling alone, do check out my Solo Travel Series, where I share my experiences and insights about traveling alone.

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