It used to be easy. I would effortlessly finish one book after another, even finding time to read multiple books concurrently. I consumed books of all genres, varying authors, and different writing styles. Reading books took precedence over watching TV shows on Treehouse or YTV; words on paper fuelled my imagination and felt more vivid and fun than anything technology could offer. When I got in trouble, my mom knew the best way to ground me: no books.
In second grade, I was in the habit of keeping a book in my desk tray to sneakily read during class. On one such occasion, my teacher was reviewing something that probably wasn’t as interesting as whatever was happening in the Babysitters Club book that I was reading. However, I was snapped out of my reverie when I was scolded and sent out of the classroom by my teacher— all because I couldn’t stop reading.
So how is it that years later it’s so hard for me to start?
Suddenly, it’s a painstaking process to even finish a chapter.
Amanda Arbuthnot, the service design lead responsible for reader’s services at the Calgary Public Library, says there are some challenges adults may face when trying to read for pleasure.
Arbuthnot notes that adults tend to borrow mostly nonfiction books from the library.
“We have a lot of adults come to the library seeking out information, seeking out cookbooks,” Arbuthnot says. “They don’t come as often to read for pleasure, which people are often surprised by.”
It’s still an accomplishment
According to Arbuthnot, one of the things that makes reading harder as an adult is that it is not celebrated in the same way.
“When we’re kids, people get so excited when we read,” Arbuthnot explains. “We have reading charts, we have stickers.”
Arbuthnot adds that the library is including an adult challenge to their Ultimate Summer Challenge this year so that adults can reap the rewards of reading, too.
No such thing as a guilty pleasure
Adults who want to read may also be held back by feeling that they have to read a certain kind of book.
“We always celebrate award winning authors and prestigious authors and people can feel a little bit guilty about just sitting down and maybe reading more genre fiction, like a science fiction or a romance,” Arbuthnot explains.
At the end of the day, it’s important for adults to remember that reading is always the most fun when you’re reading something you enjoy, no matter what the genre is.
Listening can be reading, too
It can be hard to find time to read, but audiobooks have become a popular choice for busybees.
“I know that this is for so many people who have a lot of things going on in their lives,” Arbuthnot says. “If you can pop on an audiobook while you’re cleaning, cooking, walking the dog, that’s a way that you can still be reading and completing tasks.”
Unfortunately, there can be a stigma that listening to audiobooks is not really reading.
“For a long time, people would consider audiobooks to be a lesser form of reading and not really put it on the same pedestal as actual reading, but that’s totally unfair,” Arbuthnot explains. “Reading an audiobook is a different experience, but it’s not a lesser experience.”
It’s part of the schedule
It can be hard to find the motivation to read when going on your phone is oh-so-easy and addicting.
“It’s always so easy just to look at your phone and kind of mindlessly engage, and reading requires a little bit more presence and a little bit more intentionality,” Arbuthnot says.
In this situation, Arbuthnot suggests building reading into your schedule or substituting a book when you would spend time on your phone.
“For me, I love to read right before I go to bed, but for some people, maybe it’s nice to read on your lunch break,” Arbuthnot says. “I would say a great way to do it is to look at a time when you find yourself picking up your phone and being mindless with it, and seeing if you can substitute even just five, 10 minutes.”
I’ve been practicing many of these tips recently. I’ll read on the bus when I would just be scrolling on my phone. I’ll listen to an audiobook when I’m laying in bed exhausted and would otherwise be reading the same page over and over. I even read Twilight for some low-stakes entertainment. To top it off, I’ll celebrate finishing a book with an iced capp from Tim Hortons.
Am I the reading whiz I was as a kid? No. But being an imperfect reader is okay too, and the feeling of getting lost in a good book every now and then makes it worth it.