Building a Reading Habit When It Seems Impossible
Creative things you can do to beat the reading slump. Graphic novels, a free excerpt from a report on the Indian publishing industry and more
By now I am sure you must have read the New York Times article ‘Languishing’. In it, the author Adam Grant describes the feeling we may all be experiencing in 2021. It’s not quite depression, but we aren’t functioning at our full capacity either. (It’s a must-read).
In this sort of environment, it can be hard to do even simple things, and finding the time to sit and read can seem like a far-fetched dream.
The last few months have been stressful. Here is how I managed to cultivate and reinvent the reading habit.
Change the kind of books you read
Start small and easy. I found great solace in graphic novels during this time. They are easy on the eyes, and give a welcome respite from the screen. If you are wondering where to start, pick up old comic books lying at home - old Tintins, Archie’s and Asterix. Maybe even some vintage Tinkles!
Before the restrictions, I had bought the graphic novel version of Sapiens. It’s a beautiful hard-cover book and immerses you in the world of pre-historic humans and how we migrated out of Africa 70,000 years ago.
If you are tired of reading and looking at the screen, try out audiobooks. They are the next big thing that publishers are betting on. Apps like Storytel and Audible have a variety of selections.
I tried out my first audio book- Shoe Dog by Phil Night. It’s the story of the founder of Nike in his own words. I listened to it while doing dishes and walking and found myself so addicted, I would even listen to it sitting or lying down, staring into space.
Reading doesn’t have to be serious or scary. We can adapt our reading patterns to cope with the current mindset. Interested in a particular topic? Want to learn how to sleep better? Pick up a book on it! Books like these give new perspectives and give you the sense that you are still growing even in these turbulent times. Here are a few books in this genre that I read and loved:
I recently read a very interesting book called The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick. The subtitle of the book reads, ‘how to talk to customers and learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you.’
Instead of asking someone whether a new idea you have is good or bad, ask them about their daily lives and problems they may face in order to ascertain whether you are really on to something. I loved the part where he spoke about compliments. He said that in customer or sales calls one should try and avoid receiving compliments altogether. Oftentimes compliments are a way to politely end the conversation. For example, ‘Looks great. Keep me in the loop.’ Compliments are false positives without commitment. The book pushes you to obtain hard facts or tangible commitments.
I read another book called The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. The author spoke all about how our identities, more often than not, shape how we invest, and think about money. It’s not always logical or based on facts. If someone grew up very rich or during an economic boom they will likely invest differently from someone who grew up in very different circumstances.
Set a time to read every week
During the week it can be heard to open a book. Setting a time during the week, preferably during the weekend just for reading, helps me orient my mind towards it and also gives me something to look forward to. During my designated reading time, I put no pressure on how fast, slow or how much I should read, but instead enjoy the process.
Want to hear more in-depth discussion about all these things? My co-host Michelle and I speak about reading and creative habits more in detail in episode 1 of season three of my podcast Books and Beyond With Bound. More recommendations on graphic novels, audio books and more too!
Check it out wherever you get your podcasts.
Speaking of different formats of books, here’s an excerpt about audiobooks from a publishing industry report Bound put together:
The launch of digital platforms like Stoytel and Audible have contributed to the growth of audiobooks in India (Ghawri). Storytel entered the Indian market in 2017 (Gupta) and Amazon launched Audible at the end of 2018 (Mitter). Audible India’s Country Head Shailesh Sawlanisays,“Since the launch of both Audible.in and Audible Suno, our growth has been strong and rapid but we believe there is still a lot of ground to cover. The expanse and diversity of India and its love for stories makes it one of the fastest-growing markets for us, globally.” (qtd. in Mitter)
There is a global increase in the demand for audiobooks and India is expected to be part of the phenomenon. The industry is expected to grow from $4 billion in 2020 to $20 billion in 2030 on a global scale. (Scroll)
“We want to get all our books into audiobooks,” says Penguin Digital Marketing Lead Vaishnavi Singh in The Book People (Bound’s podcast on the publishing industry).
But audiobooks might be more expensive to produce than physical books. The Book People guest and commissioning editor Simon and Schuster Sayantan Ghosh says,“It still hasn't developed into a full fledged industry yet. We are also working with them trying to build a platform where people are able to purchase audiobooks at an affordable price.”
Much like e-books, audiobooks got a huge push during the pandemic. And though experts are not sure about whether the uptick will continue for e-books, they say it most likely will for audiobooks:
According to the Nielsen report on the Impact of Covid On the Indian Book Consumer, reading and audio book listening are up, increasing by a substantial 7 hours weekly on average to as much as 16 hours total, per week.
Vaishnavi Singh says, “Audiobooks are increasing. A lot of people didn't believe in the format. But I think the numbers are now showing to be otherwise.”
Bound community member Mehak Goyal prefers audiobooks to ebooks:
“Books are readily available on Storytel and Audible even if Amazon couldn’t deliver them during the lockdown. After a long day of staring at the laptop, my eyes refuse to open for a book, irrespective of how much I love doing that. I started reading audio books 6 months ago and I have read one per week since then. I also love how the reader’s voice changes for every character.”
For more information: check our our podcast on the publishing industry, The Book People, and read the entire report here. We cover every aspect of the industry from literary agents, translation, independent publishers
P.S did you know we also help individuals and brands produce their own podcasts :)
About me:I am an entrepreneur, book editor and podcaster. Here is my editing and content consulting website: http://tarakhandelwal.com/. Here is my company’s website: https://boundindia.com/We provide skill-building to creatives in the form of classes, mentoring and retreats. And here’s the link to my podcast Books and Beyond With Bound, India’s no 1 author interview podcast :
What is this newsletter: A fortnightly (mostly) letter about the books I have read and how the ideas they give me filter into my life, career and opinions.
If you have read any of the books mentioned or have thoughts on any of the things I have written - do write in! Would love to hear from you.
Do let me know what you do to get out of a reading slump!
Until next time!