Updated: Feb 21
We give you an answer the eternal dilemma of "to read or not to read"
by Aaliya Shah
As easy as the action of picking up a book and finishing reading it in a considerably short amount of time might be an easy feat for some people, it is a task for most. Being a part of a generation which constantly relies on fresh content to be available at their fingertips, something new, something different to grasp their attention, it is hard for the art of reading to survive.
The reading community, at times, feels as though it’s a flame that has been blown out. In a world where even singers have to advertise their works, to generate publicity, gain traction to get streams for their music, how could a reader have hope for their society to thrive? Fortunately, readers and authors alike noticed how heavily dependent this generation is on the internet and took that to their advantage.
Making “Booktoks” and “Reels” on Instagram that advertised the strong selling points such as the plot, the characters and the overall aesthetic of the book, convincing people to fall in love with reading all over again.
We’ve all fallen prey to the "the internet made me buy it" trend and more often than not, it has been a good decision despite it being a “trend.” Sometimes even the ones who read voraciously have trouble reading books one after another and go through a block. Regardless of this, in comparison to people who don’t read as much or at all, their attention span is much higher.
Therein comes the importance of reading as a whole. The act doesn’t just contribute to improving your focus and concentration, it also builds your creativity and imagination. If you have trouble remembering things, reading can drastically improve your ability to retain. It allows you to build an extensive vocabulary which helps in better communication and an improvement in one’s language speaking skills. Everyone already knows that those who read gain more knowledge and have more information about several matters of the world.
In the beginning, it might be arduous to read. However, if one just makes the effort to read 10-20 minutes a day, it would be very beneficial to them. As time passes by, the habit of reading would be inculcated in them and would be more of a delightful hobby than just a strenuous chore to follow.
To get the present generation to be more attentive to the art of reading, let us take a look at a few methods that might help with the short attention span.
One of the easier ways to get your brain and body to focus on a particular task or habit is to simply schedule a specific time for that activity in the day. During the week, you might be busy with work, academics or several other obligations, hence not being able to find enough time to sit down with a book and give it your full wholehearted attention.
Therefore, giving reading an allocated time slot no matter how it may sound could be a good idea if you are looking to read more. Preferably, an hour of reading before you go to sleep would be the best as it gives your eyes and mind rest from the constant glare of the screen.
We all have distractions that take up our attention and it seems to get split with each diversion we have in our possession. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to observe people multitasking, for instance, watching T.V and simultaneously working on their assignments or constantly fidgeting with their phones while studying.
In such cases, the only solution is to eliminate all the distractions you come across before you begin reading. Keep your phone on silent or do not disturb, let your friends and family know you are reading and not to contact you, because otherwise you might get disturbed. If you think you will not be able to stay focused despite following the above, take it a step further and put your phone in a drawer and take similar measures for the other distractions.
Listen to calming music or sounds
A noisy background could be a major factor in why you keep getting disturbed and distracted while reading. So if you’re in a location that is very boisterous or you just need some music to focus on, a good option would be to listen to Lo-Fi music or White Noise while reading.
These sounds help your mind concentrate on the task at hand. According to an article written by a student at Hyde School, it helped a lot of people focus and get their work done at a better, faster pace since they seemed to forget about their surroundings and just be hyper-focused on the work they had to complete. So listening to music like this could be useful while reading.
Clear your mind
When a person has a lot on their mind, it is extremely challenging to get it to concentrate on one task. So when your mind feels cluttered, there is no point in trying to read in that state. Switch off your distractions and all your other tasks, and go for a walk or run.
An activity that will clear your mind and take all the stress away, even if it is for a short period. Certain people resort to meditation or even a power nap as both might just rejuvenate that person's state of mind and make them more immersed in the task they want to do.
Just as one sets goals while writing or any other task that they have to complete, in a similar manner even with reading, you can set specific goals you want to attain by the end of the day. Reading just 20-30 pages a day is a feasible goal.
Instead of just restricting yourself to that much, read an extra 10 pages the next day, thereby slowly increasing your capacity. You can also start reading short novels. If you schedule a time and then set goals, the “task” of reading becomes less of one and more of a habit you begin to enjoy as time passes by.
Read whenever you get free time
Constantly being on one's phone and using it even when you have a sliver of free time can be stressful and harmful to your eyes. Almost every bookworm has a habit of carrying a book wherever they go, whether or not they read it.
Following their example, taking a book along with you to a situation where you know you might have free time, instead of reaching for your phone, crack open the book you've brought and read to pass the time. You can get a lot of your reading goal done and it'll leave you with a sense of satisfaction.
Set up a cosy environment to get in the mood
Cleaning your desk, decluttering your bed and other minor chores help you set up a more suitable environment for studying. Even for reading, setting up your surrounding area in a way that is comfortable and relaxes you enough to get you in the mood to read.
Actions like lighting a candle, switching on softer lighting and more, may seem trivial but they can significantly change the atmosphere around you. To engage with the book even more, you can annotate while reading. It may just make your reading experience more interactive and you could relate to the story more.
The reading methods mentioned above are only as effective as one's willingness to develop a knack for reading from the start. These particular techniques, while not accurately proven, have a possibility of helping if you have the mind yet lack the attention, especially in a generation that is so unfortunately short of the focus reading demands from people.
Reading is extremely valuable. In a society that is constantly changing, knowing the past, present and future (regardless of how much truth it carries) is always a good idea. It is also essential to read anything and everything it is that one is interested in. When you do something that catches your eye, automatically the want in you arises to do more of it because it makes you feel happy.
Our generation is well endowed with resources and information that can be used at our convenience. Novels and stories that were published earlier portray the difference in each generation, some proving how lucky we are to have the opportunities and privileges that we do. Utilizing these would be highly advantageous to us and being well read is a skill everyone should strive to achieve.
So whether you're 8 or 80, reading develops and nourishes your mind, making it sharp, and keeping you alert as you grow older. If you are someone who is an avid reader or even someone who aspires to be, use these methods if you ever have difficulty paying attention to what you want to or are reading. You might just be pleased to see the results!