Reading a book at the beach

You used to like reading (or perhaps you never did), and now you’re ready to give books another chance. Whether you feel like you’re too busy, you “don’t enjoy reading,” or you’re lost on what to read, there are ways to get back into appreciating the literary scene — a task that can prove difficult. So how can you finally make it happen?

Start slowly
While it’s great that you want to conquer Infinite Jest or War and Peace, choosing an extremely long read is not the best route to revive your reading hobby. Start off with something that doesn’t require an extensive amount of commitment on your part: short stories, poems, graphic novels, or magazines. What matters is that you’re reading, not what you’re reading. With that said…

Explore genres
Contrary to popular belief, there is no genre monster waiting to applaud or criticize your reading choices. Reading is for personal benefit, so you should choose a book that interests you — not one that’s meant to meet some imaginary standard. There are a number of genres to pick from, and each of those likely has subgenres, so there’s no reason you can’t find something intriguing and up your alley. Good Reads is great for finding books by genre, but also has other features such as suggested books based on your ratings of other texts, free giveaways, and the site allows you to see what your friends are reading and what they recommend.

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Try a book recommendation engine
Sometimes you’re ready to start reading again, but you don’t know where to start or what to start with. A recommendation engine can make your quest for new reads much easier. Input the title or author of a book you previously enjoyed, and choose a title from the suggested list you get. One engine I like to use is What Should I Read Next.

My favorite feature of this engine is that when you search a specific author or title, the site shows you both similar books, and keywords associated with the text. For example, if you searched Alice in Wonderland, you’d get genre tag-words, like “fantasy fiction” and “adventure stories,” that you can click on to find even more books that you might enjoy.

Another good place to start is with our list of books you should read in your twenties.

Set the mood
Whenever I’m about to sit down and dive into a book, I have a pre-game ritual of sorts. I get my book, a colored pen or highlighter, occasionally some coffee, and I head to the balcony. To give yourself the best odds of actually finishing a book, figure out what sets you up for success. I don’t like to read in bed because it makes me sleepy, but many people choose to read right before they go to sleep, making a bed the perfect location. You might prefer reading while listening to music, or you may need complete silence. You could also create a really awesome reading nook.

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Many people don’t like reading because they’re used to the restrictions they experienced in an academic environment. Good news is, you’re a grown up now. You can read whatever you want, whenever you want, dammit! Just remember to be patient as you get the gears going. Reading is like music. You probably aren’t going to enjoy everything you explore, but soon enough you’ll come upon something you love.