A Roller Coaster Relationship With Books

Nov 7, 2016
Joe Buhlig
~2 mins

I was an avid reader in grade school. Any program the school put in place to encourage kids to read, I completed as fast as I could. That trend continued until I made it to junior high.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have time, but my rationale and purpose for reading changed. In grade school, I was encouraged to read but it wasn’t a requirement. In junior high, it became homework. Books were selected for me and I hated it. Maybe it was the timing or maybe it was my rebellious side showing its face, but either way I avoided reading as much as possible.

This avoidance continued until late in high school, and the only reason I read a couple books then was because my English teacher assigned books I had a genuine interest in. I can only say this having reflective hindsight. At the time I would say it was due to me liking the teacher. So, as you can guess, it didn’t stick. At the end of high school and early in college I still found myself getting clever at finding book summaries and honing my ability to skim the book for the high points.

Oddly enough, I’ve always enjoyed having finished a book, when I actually read it. That’s a common thread with me; I enjoy the results of hard work but struggle to convince myself to do it. This certainly held true with reading books. I enjoyed being able to talk about a book I had read but didn’t want to start another one. Talk about a weird paradox.

After college I read about a book per year. Because I was no longer reading as homework, I again found pleasure in the reading itself. I could enjoy reading what I wanted, but still didn’t see it as something worth making into a habit.

And then there’s Bookworm. An endeavor that has forced me into a reading habit. Bookworm took me from finishing roughly a book each year to completing a book every two weeks. And that has led to reading an extra book between some shows, which means I often read a book each week. This is easily the most reading I’ve done in my life.

Bookworm (and my new habit of carrying a book with me everywhere) has given me a chance to discuss the reading of books more frequently and it seems most folks I run into want to read more but don’t make the time for it.

My point is this: I haven’t always been a reader. It’s something I’ve grown into over time. I can tell you that if you aspire to read a book every week, you’ll likely struggle if you don’t currently read at least one every year. Going 0 to 100 rarely works. Instead, find a page count you can read every day. Even if it’s only one page every day, you’ll end up finishing a book and a half each year. If you can do five pages, you’ll land at about eight books a year. It doesn’t take much to start a habit that quickly compounds itself. Start small and be consistent; let it build over time.