When the conveniences of modern technology got in the way of good old fashioned reading, Lucy Slight discovered that reigniting her literary flame wasn’t as hard as it seemed.
Earlier this year I realised something – I couldn’t remember the last time I’d finished a book. Where reading used to be the thing I did every night before I went to bed to make me fall asleep, my iPhone (well, Instagram) had taken over. Mindless scrolling ’til my eyeballs hurt had been putting me to sleep for the past two years and I had completely forgotten what it was like to dog-ear a page halfway through a sentence when I couldn’t keep my eyes open for one more second.
My passion was awakened around the same time I started listening to The High Low, a podcast by British journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, who every episode reel off about five different books they’ve read between them over the past week. One week! How is that even possible?
Take a book with you, everywhere, they said. Read your book instead of your phone, they said. Switch your phone to flight mode and commit to reading uninterrupted, they said. So I did. Fast-forward 11 months and I’d read a grand total of 11, soon to be 12, books – all of which I’d proudly logged on my shining new Goodreads account.
View this post on Instagram
Reading is good for your health and wellbeing
Reading helps to foster empathy and social skills, all while doing something that may seem to be totally antisocial. It’s the interaction with others over books through the act of discussion and recommendation that helps to develop social and oral skills, while cementing reading as a source of pleasure.
Not only is reading a vehicle through which to temporarily delve into the lives of others, but it’s also one that can have a profound impact on the way we approach our own. A University of Sussex Mindlab International Study found that tension eased and heart rates slowed down in subjects who read silently to themselves for as little as six minutes. It also reported reading to be 300 percent better at reducing stress than going for a walk and 700 percent more effective than playing video games.
How to get back on the reading buzz in 5 easy steps:
- Got a phone with a large screen? Download the Kindle app and purchase e-books – your book will now follow you everywhere your phone does. If you’re reading at night on an iPhone, select ‘night shift’ in the settings to knock back the blue light on the screen and make the colour warmer which will help protect light-sensitive cells in your retinas.
- Better yet, invest in a Kindle – the anti-reflective screen and soft backlight makes reading easier on your eyes.
- Join your local library and read for free!
- If you don’t want to commit to joining a book club, arrange to swap books with friends instead – it’s a great way to get into different genres, too.
- Create a Goodreads account via goodreads.com or by downloading the app to keep track of what you’re reading, what you want to read and follow other accounts to get recommendations. Pandora and Dolly from The High Low podcast have a fantastic account, and Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf is well worth a follow for all fans of feminist literature.
A few great reads to get you started:
A Place for Us by Fatima Mirza (Hogarth): The first book Sarah Jessica Parker has signed as a publisher for Hogarth.
How to be Perfect by Holly Wainwright (Allen and Unwin): A cheeky satire on the lives of a group of Australian wellness influencers, and the sequel to The Mummy Bloggers.
The Pisces by Melissa Broder (Hogarth): This novel involves a passionate rebound with a merman, so if you enjoyed The Shape of Water more than you thought you would, don’t dismiss this too soon.