How I revived my love for reading books

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Back in late 90’s and early 2000’s, smartphones and computers were less common or nonexistent. On a boring Sunday, it was common for teenagers to pick up a book and hunker down to some reading. In the last couple of years, there has been a steady decline in reading patterns among kids and young adults in the medium of books. An article in Forbes shows that although people are seeing words all the time – Google, Facebook, Twitter etc., they are finding it harder to pick up a physical book and read.

Two years ago, I found myself in a similar situation. Graduating with Master’s, I had a few weeks before I would start my new job and had lots of time to idle. I had lost touch with reading books not related to my studies. So I decided to revisit my childhood hobby and picked up my first book from the public library. As I was taking up this hobby after a long time, I found my concentration waning after a few pages. I had to take a number of steps to increase my concentration span and keep my interest in books.  Here are some things I did to revive my love for books:

#1 Start with familiar books

I realized that it was important to choose my books carefully, in order to renew my interest in reading. I started with reading books from authors that I was familiar with, like Agatha Christie, Robert Ludlum etc. When I got comfortable with their style of writing, I started enjoying reading all the more.  Gradually I was able to experiment with new authors and move back and forth between fiction and non-fictions.

#2 Using Book Recommendation engines

A chance conversation with an old friend introduced me to the book recommendation, social website – Goodreads. This website gave personalized recommendation based on books I had read and my favorite genres. I found this website extremely useful in finding what books my friends and peers were reading, and also keep track of what I had read in the last couple of weeks. Goodreads also runs a year-long reading challenge that motivates readers to keep a track of their read books. Here is a wonderful blog outlining how one can benefit with this challenge .

#3 Keep track of Book lists

There are plenty of book lists available that you can take a look and use for inspiration in finding your next read. One of the common book lists which was voted for by writers from around the world is the Top 100 books of all time. Surely, 100 books are enough to keep anyone busy for a considerable amount of time.

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft also maintains a wonderful blog of his books that he has read and reviewed. Some of my favorite books that I read from his list include the two books series – The Rosie Project, Hyperbole and a Half and How Not be Wrong.

Also one of my role-models, Andrew Ng is an avid reader. He recently published a list of books that he recommends. I would definitely vote for this one from the list.

#4 Frequenting the neighborhood public library

Books can be expensive in US and one tends to be more cautious in buying books when we are not sure if we would like its contents or not. So I prefer to get my books from the public library, so even if I don’t like the book, I can just return it without any hassle. Most public libraries have a centralized system too. So if they don’t have the book you wish to read, they can order it from a neighboring library for you. Reading in the library also gives a good reading environment and peaceful atmosphere. I found to easier to read a book while being surrounded with similar like-minded people.

Hope this was a useful primer in ways to find books to read and improve your reading skills. Would love to hear from folks on your thoughts, challenges you faced in getting that right book to read etc.

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