Before we even get started – let me be clear about one thing. This isn’t about the importance of reading or to try to convince you to read more. (But you should probably read more.) If there’s a book on your nightstand that you can’t pull yourself to finish, this is for you.
When was the last time you started a book and read it cover to cover, just for fun? For a lot of people, it’s been a long time…and they’re getting further and further from the last book they read every day.
In 2019 the Washington Post ran a story about this very thing and reported “since 2004, the number of Americans that read for pleasure on a given day is 19%…down 30% from 2004.” A quick search through the Bureau of Labor Statistics has that number now down to 17% as of 2021.
There are plenty of reasons (often really good ones) to not read for entertainment. The most common being “not having the time.” (I feel like if the iPhone gave us all a running total of time spent on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, we’d find we have a little more free time than we originally thought…but I digress.)
I want to tackle one of the other big ones and, maybe, offer a little hope. Stick with me.
First, let’s call a spade a spade. Books can be intimidating. Period. Especially the really thick ones. 500? 700? 1000 pages?! “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
But wait…done correctly, a book can transport you into alternative universes, back in time, or let you live out the life of your hero…all from your favorite living room chair (or sitting next to the smelly guy at the airport in the over-crowed gate while PRAYING he doesn’t end up sitting next to you on your four and half hour flight back to Nashville. Hypothetically speaking, of course.) Remember…reading is FUN, dammit!
And because it’s “supposed to be fun,” I believe most people quit reading the second it’s no longer enjoyable. The moment it feels like homework; we’re out. And that, friends, is where this blog comes in.
My reading list is typically made up of biographies, self-help, non-fiction, etc., and when I come across something mind-blowing or earth-shattering I’ll often take a picture of the passage in the book to post to my social media. I had done just that a week or so ago and got a comment from a long-time friend inquiring about the book, but she said “The only goal I set for myself this is year is to finish books I start…and so far, I’m still on book 1. *facepalm emoji*” (I added the emphasis, but the emoji was hers)
Look, I totally understand feeling some type of way for not finishing a book, but instead of punishing yourself with trying to swim through the ocean of endless hyperbole in cement shoes…
The instant a book is no longer enjoyable or you’re not getting what you wanted from it – move on and start another one. I feel like there is always this pressure or expectation that once you start a book you have to finish it, but it’s simply not true. When a book loses you, put it aside and grab the next one.
“But JR…sometimes it takes a book a minute to kinda settle in…”
Yes, I agree. That’s why I want to introduce you to my “Rule of 100 pages.” (Dun dun dun!)
The “Rule of 100 pages” is simple. If the book is around 100 pages, just read the damn thing. But other than that, commit to reading 100 pages. If by page 101, it’s not doing it for you…you have my permission to give it your best Ariana Grande…”Thank you, next!” (I swear I could almost hear the groans after that one…but I went with it anyway.)
Committing to 100 pages suddenly turns that 500+ page literary Mount Everest into something you can actually visualize yourself completing.
If you’re not a runner, you don’t put on your shoes for the first time and immediately attempt a 13-mile marathon. No, you try to make it to the mailbox and then to the end of the road. We tend to see only “the mountain” and suddenly lose sight of what’s truly important and, honestly, the only thing that matters…our next step.
Whether it’s starting Stephen King’s “The Stand” or any other enormous (appearing) task…break it down into bite size chunks. What are the first 100 pages like?
Even if you don’t get past page 100 of the first ten books…you’ll still have read 1,000 pages! Think about that the next time you find yourself “still on book 1.”
I hope this helps 🙂