We’re almost one month into the new year, and that means it’s reached the point of January when New Year’s resolutions are slowly abandoned and forgotten. Rather than letting your good intentions and healthy habits slip away, take a moment to recommit to them. Personally, my resolutions this year include making weekly trips to the recycling center, the usual “drink more water,” and most importantly, to read 19 books in 2019. I believe that setting (and sticking to) a reading goal should be one of your resolutions this year, too.
Even if you don’t quite consider yourself a “bookworm,” reading for leisure can be a fun, relaxing pastime and an opportunity to take a break from our obsessive, mindless social media consumption. Reading regularly has scientifically proven health benefits and can majorly benefit your professional communication skills. Here are some reasons you should reach for a book right away… or as soon as you finish reading this blog post.
From a health/personal development perspective:
- Live longer! It’s true.
- Destress. Use reading as a calming, mindful practice.
- Improve time management skills. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to implement a daily routine can help add structure to a hectic schedule.
- Notice a better ability to focus and concentrate.
- Increase empathy and emotional intelligence.
- Be more open-minded.
From a professional/academic perspective:
- Be a more confident communicator!
- Develop a broader vocabulary.
- Improve your verbal and writing skills. Put simply, consuming writing makes you a better writer.
- Think more creatively.
- Have a more open-minded outlook on life.
- Become a better overall learner. Your brain is like Velcro, always trying to make connections. The more you read, the more connections you make, and the better you learn.
Not sure what to read?
My first piece of advice: read whatever genuinely interests you, not what you think will make you sound the smartest—especially if it’s painful to get through! Here are some tips on how to seek out a new book that you’ll actually enjoy.
- Recommendations. Try taking recommendations from family and close friends—this will not only provide you with reliable suggestions from people who understand your tastes and interests, but it’s an opportunity to grow closer with a loved one and get an inside glimpse into what that person values. Someone’s favorite book, song, movie, or quote says a lot about them; take this opportunity to learn a little more about your mom, dad, grandma, or best friend. Two resolutions in one!
- Goodreads. After you’ve returned all your loaned copies and exhausted the list of friends whose opinion you value, turn to Goodreads, a great online resource for tracking the books you read and connecting with friends. Plus, it provides tailored suggestions based on your interests and past favorites. They have an annual reading challenge, which you can sign up for here.
- The Library. This one may come as a shock, but Clemson’s very own Cooper Library is a great place to browse for new reading material—plus, it’s free! Talk with a librarian about the genre, writing style, or authors you’ve enjoyed in the past. Undergraduate students can check out up to 100 items.
I know making time to read can feel nearly impossible for a college student who is busy balancing hours’ worth of mandatory class readings, studying for exams, working a part-time job, perfecting his/her resume, and trying to maintain some sort of social life. I get it. You might even feel guilty for reading a fiction novel when you know there’s homework to be done. Here are some techniques that I’ve found make it a bit easier to commit to reading consistently.
Tips to stick to your new 2019 reading goal:
- Make it a part of your morning routine. Spend 10 minutes reading while you sip on that first cup coffee.
- Set small goals, like to read 5 pages a day.
- Choose a book over Netflix.
- When you’re bored, resist the urge to play on your phone. Take 30 minutes out of your designated social media scrolling time and flip through your book instead!
Last year, I succeeded in my 2018 goal to read 12 books. My personal favorites from 2018 include “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, and “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera. So far in 2019, I’ve read three totally unalike books: an anonymous diary “Go Ask Alice” (a Christmas gift from my Mom), a play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee (a copy kindly loaned to me by an English major friend), and a novel “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” by Tom Robbins (a recommendation of my Dad’s; Robbins is his favorite author, and now one of mine, too).
Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to finally pick up that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand and read a few pages before bed tonight. If you’re looking for a quantifiable reading goal in 2019, I suggest trying to read one new book each month. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece or weigh more than your textbooks! Since January is over tomorrow, you might be getting a late start—Don’t worry, reading 11 books in 2019 still sounds pretty impressive, too.