Speaking to friends and acquaintances, some claim that they don’t have exciting interests. Some don’t even believe they have interests. The aim of this article is to show that interests don’t have to be exciting to be enjoyable –  and can be accessible to a wide population, with a little resourcefulness and imagination.

Interests – Reading for pleasure

I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. I read a couple of books a month on average, although technically I’m not always reading and they’re not always in book format!

I’ve probably got up to 6 books on the go at any one time. These tend to be tactically positioned so I can dip in and out of them. I know this would probably drive some people crazy, but I’d wager I’m probably not alone in this approach.

I’m going to start by considering some benefits of reading before looking at some of the stats in this area. I’ll then share some of the ways that reading features in my own life.

Benefits of reading

Research shows that reading for pleasure can reduce the symptoms of depression, build empathy and help us build relationships with others.

  • Reading for pleasure has been linked to a reduction in the symptoms of depression and to a reduction in the risk of developing dementia in later life.
  • People who read books regularly are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile. 76% of adults say that reading improves their life and the same number says it helps to make them feel good.

For me personally, reading signifies learning, escapism and inspiration depending on the book. All of these are critical to helping me to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

 

Stats on reading

Some people read a lot, while others read less, and some sadly never.

Having found various different statistics, it seems that the average is around 12 books a year, with many reading much less than this, and much more for avid readers.

A UK survey showed that 11% of men and 5% of women never read for pleasure. A quarter of the adult population had read for enjoyment less than twice in the past six months. Shortness of time for reading was a problem for 29% of respondents, 40% preferred to do something else and 26% said they “didn’t enjoy reading very much”.

Opportunities for reading

Try as I might, I struggle to comprehend when people tell me they don’t have time for reading. I’m going to tell you a little about how I squeeze reading into my rather full life, and maybe even to give you some ideas and inspiration.

Bedside table

I generally have 2 bedtime books on the go – one fiction and one non-fiction. I read the fiction one last thing at night to prepare me for sleep. I typically read between 4-20 pages per night depending how much time I have and how sleepy I am. If I’m really into it I may read a few extra pages.

The non-fiction one is there for any nights I get to bed early e.g. if it’s cold or I’m on my own.

Upstairs landing

I have another non-fiction one outside my daughter’s room. She still likes the comfort of knowing someone is around to help her to drift off. To be honest though, its been a while since I actually read any of this one. My daily gratitude diary is also located here and she’s often asleep by the time I finish that. If I ever have a bath (a rare luxury), I would read this one. It tends to be something that I can easily dip in and out of.

I also swap this one from time to time with my bedside non-fiction book.

Study bookshelf

I’m very lucky to have my own study. I recently went through a substantial clear-out and I now have all my books together. I typically have one here that I’m reading at any time.  I sometimes grab this to read if I’m eating breakfast alone. This is also the one I take to London on my periodic commutes.

Travel

When I’m travelling I tend to read a fair amount, especially if I’m alone. I usually have a limited number of books with me, enabling me to concentrate my efforts more than at other times of my life.

 

When is a book not a book?

Audiobooks

My brother first introduced me to audiobooks around 8 years ago when he bought me an Audible voucher for my birthday. He was already a convert. Since then I’ve consumed in excess of 200 books on my Audible account alone! This is in addition to some freebies I’ve received and some borrowed from the library etc.

I initially used audiobooks for books that I wouldn’t normally read in book form e.g. classics such as Dickens, and some non-fiction, but this has evolved over time. The mix is probably 2/3 non-fiction and 1/3 fiction. I generally listen to one book at a time, although I have been known to have more than one on the go.

I listen to audiobooks almost every day e.g. in the car, on the underground, when walking, cooking, washing up etc. Essentially, anytime I’m alone and able to multitask. I even listen if I can’t sleep – I’ve got a couple which are a great cure for insomnia!

Audiobooks can be expensive if purchased singularly, so if this is of interest I recommend a subscription e.g. annual membership of 12 books for £69.99. There are often offers for subscribers, so I think I probably get nearer 18 books for this price. Audible has an ongoing offer for every reader to try out their first book for free!

ebooks

Many people use ebooks instead of traditional books or audiobooks. I’ve had a number on my iPad (all freebies) for a number of years, but I must admit I’ve never really got into this. Some users love that they always have a book on them, especially on holiday when they have everything on one device v a stack of books.

 

What to read?

I liken reading to music, in that our tastes can be quite personal to us and influenced by things we’ve experienced or read before.

Goodreads is a “social cataloging” website that allows individuals to freely search its database of books, annotations, and reviews.  a great App for logging books read and reviewed. If you’d like to befriend me you can see the kind of things I like to read, although I may not be totally up to date!

Book sources

My non-fiction books mostly come from Amazon/Audible as these are generally targeted books, often from recommendation or review. I mainly buy new, but I also buy second-hand via Amazon marketplace, especially for more expensive books, or ‘classics’ that tend to hold their value.

Many of my fiction books come from charity shops, book sales or have been passed to me by friends.

Book clubs

Book clubs are popular ways to read something different, and then to discuss the texts, characters etc. I have been part of these before (I even led one for a while) but sometimes the pressure of reading before the next meeting takes away from the pleasure of reading!

 

Wrap-up

I am a self-confessed avid reader. Reading represents learning, escapism and inspiration – all critical to helping me maintain a balanced lifestyle.

Despite all the reading I do, I permanently have a number of books waiting to be read, enjoyed etc.  While this sometimes makes me feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that the majority of my reading is done for pleasure and any stress is therefore of my own making. This helps me to regain perspective and to enjoy the moment all the more.

 

Thank you for reading. For more interesting articles, visit my blog at www.agelifebalance.com to learn more.