There’s an epidemic among American adults, and it’s not getting as much media attention that I feel it truly deserves. We are in the grips of a major reading epidemic, or better yet, a lack thereof. Many have decided to put down their books, whether it’s for lack of time, lack of enthusiasm, or simply because they may not always have a book with them, but they’re guaranteed to have their phones. If you’re one of those who can’t remember the last time your fingers scrolled the pages of a book instead of the screen of your phone, and you think it’s time for a change… don’t stop reading, here’s the solution! I present to you: 3 easy ways to increase the amounts of books you read- with little to no effort at all.

“Just the Facts Ma’am…”

If you’re someone who likes to see the cold hard facts, here is some data candy for your peckish curiosity:

 According to the Pew Research Center, a staggering 24% of American adults said that they did not read anything at all in 2008. That’s zilch, nada, nuh-uh. Not one single book in paper or digital format was read in any minuscule amount during this time from that 24% of adults.

Another organization, the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), discovered some eye-raising statistics on the decline of adults that read for pleasure, as well. The NEA noted a steady decline from 2002-2017 (a slight decline mind you) of 18 yr. old adults that read outside of material that was required of them to read, whether for work or school. In 2002, that number was around 56.6% and it bottomed out around 52.7% in 2017.

The worst find uncovered by the NEA was amongst those who read short stories or novels. This study concluded that 47.8% of adults that enjoyed reading novels or short stories in 2008 declined to a disheartening 41.8% in 2016. The demographic: Women, African Americans and Adults ages 18-24. Well, I just so happen to be two out of the three on that list, and honestly, I am not ok with being the spotlight demographic for such a disappointing statistic.

Therefore, I feel it’s my duty to take a stand and use the skills that have been gifted to me to go forth and help each and every person who is in need of a little push back into the world of literary goodness. Even if one person (preferably an African American woman, ages 19-24) picked up a book and started to read again, the world would be that much more of a better place.

Take Not, Want Not… Read Not!

First case in point: You will always read if you always have a book with you.

For instance, my book is always in my purse or in my bag. I never leave home without it. I would even go as far as comparing my books to my appendages. We are always together; we are one. Therefore, I always have my eyes on the prize. They say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and I know of nothing more beautiful than the written word. So behold it everywhere you go, and let it accompany everything you do. That way, when you have a random moment in your day, you can always pull that baby out and get some chapters in. Besides, if the day is stressful, you will be craving a getaway anyway, so why not read?  Don’t even get me started on how relaxing reading can be for the psyche. Unless you’re reading Psycho or something…

“Alexa, Play What a Girl Wants by Christina Aguilera”

One thing I constantly hear from my libre-deficient family, friends, and coworkers: “The moment I start reading, I want to fall asleep.”

Now, I’m sure there is more than one factor at play during those times when you are reading and slowly succumb to the urge for a snooze. However, one thing I do know that will help eliminate the midsentence zzz’s is reading something that you truly enjoy… something that excites the senses and awakens the literary beast hibernating inside of you. Easy peasy right?

Wrong…

In all actuality, for many adults, it may not be as simplistic as it sounds. First, many people who don’t engage in reading much, don’t know what actually tickles their fancy. They’re unfamiliar with the various genres, and can feel that fiction can come off as childish. Furthermore, many tend to have this deeply buried subconscious that tells them that they have to reach for the books that have the most pages, have the smallest letters, absolutely no pictures, and serious subject matter only for it to be “real reading”.

There is no wrong or right way to read. The only requirement is that you do read, that’s all.

Let’s take a look at graphic novels, for instance. They’re a great way to read some amazing stories without feeling like you’re truly “reading” a book. There are beautiful illustrations in these graphic novels that draw you in and keep you mystified, and the story jumps out to you in the form of pictures and not just words. Before you know it, you’ll find that you’re following the storyline with great attentiveness, and you may be wishing there were more pages to read when you’re all done. For you visual learners, graphic novels may be just what the doctor ordered.

However, graphic novels are just one example of how you can redefine what reading means to you. Don’t be shy… dive in! Research what works for you! You may learn a new thing or two about yourself that you never knew. Now, relinquish those preconceived notions of what’s “appropriate” to read and just TREAT YO’SELF!!

“Siri, Schedule my Book Appointment for 1 pm…”

Let’s be honest, most reading doesn’t get done because you feel that there is always something more important to do than actually reading. However, as previously stated, READING IS IMPORTANT!!!! You’re just making excuses for your lackadaisical reading habits. So, in order to start treating reading with the importance it deserves, you must start to view reading as you view the other priorities that you take seriously in your life.

One way to do that is to schedule reading like you would any other mandatory meeting. Make it a priority.  Schedule thirty minutes of reading during your lunch break.  Set reminders in your phone, with alerts, that demand 15 minutes of reading throughout the day. Think of reading as your daily dose of meds for the brain and you must be kept on a strict regimen. Eventually, you won’t need those reminders because you’ll be running for your book trying to find out what happened after the King was poisoned at his own wedding.

This last tip may be the one you put the most effort into when trying to jump-start your reading machine. However, this simple task won’t take more than five minutes out of your day and can make all the difference to your vocabulary and your literacy. It’s a win-win!  

In Conclusion…

You now have 3 incredibly easy tricks of the trade, so that you can begin your biblio adventure. I can’t wait to see my little reading seedlings sprout into beautiful literary flowers. I would love to know if these tricks worked for you. Or, if you have any additional tidbits of info to help other novice readers get back into action, drop them here. We’re all ears… or eyes…. You know what I mean.

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