“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you.” - Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Whether you grew up with a book always in tow or you only recently fell in love with reading, we can all agree that books are an important part of learning, dreaming, and doing. Why is it, then, that picking up a book can be so difficult? How many times have you claimed to be an avid reader, but when someone asks what you’re currently in the middle of, you blush and say, “Oh I haven’t had much time for it recently, what with work and...” Yet that night you watch the seconds count down till the next episode begins or scroll down your newsfeed for the hundredth time. Perhaps we shy away from a book and reach for the remote - or phone or computer - due to the emotional commitment that is required when reading something.
Whatever it is, it’s time to take back the reins and commit to reading. Commit to the books on your shelf waiting to be dusted off. Commit to the titles you’ve yet to discover. Commit to the authors you consider yourself to be a fan of, but have only read half of one of their books. Commit to your claim to be a lifelong reader.
Here are 20 commitments I’m making. Why not make your own manifesto of sorts?
- I will make reading a part of my daily habits. I will make time for it like I do for showering and walking the dog.
- I will find a new author that speaks directly to me, and I will read everything they have written.
- I will research what and who my favorite authors read and read them, as well.
- I will always have something to read with me. Whether that’s a book, a reading app, a newspaper, or an online journal bookmarked as my home page.
- I will read aloud to someone I love.
- I will give each book a chance.
- I will not waste my time on a book that I don’t like after said chance has been given.
- I will not bash a book that I don’t like if someone else is giving it a try.
- I will open a book. I will close my computer. I will silence my phone.
- I will set a book on top of my TV remote, so that the decision is intentional, rather than habitual.
- I will re-read favorite books as easily as I re-watch favorite movies.
- I will read anything that interests me: Novels, poetry, genre fiction, self-help, old letters, memoirs, etc.
- I will buy books by local authors at local bookstores.
- I will not loan out my most adored books. I will buy a copy for the friend who is asking for it.
- I will ask people I know and people I don’t know what they are reading. I will write down the titles and authors and actually look them up.
- I will go to the library and pick a book, merely, by its cover.
- I will always have another book at the ready when I near the end of my current read.
- I will listen to an audio version of a book I have already read, just to see how different it feels.
- I will read with a pen. I will mark sections that move me. I will underline words that grip me.
- I will write down my favorite passages, just to experience how the words feel as they are written.
Inspired by Austin Kleon’s https://medium.com/show-your-work/33-thoughts-on-reading-9fa9dd2be07c