Thursday, January 08, 2009

Love to Read...

Yesterday, my 11-year-old used the phrase "recreational reading." I don't think I've ever used the phrase "recreational reading." In general, her vocabulary is pretty spectacular for her age. She uses words I didn't learn until I moved to the US in my 20s. Her extensive reading may have something to do with this. She can finish a 500+ page novel over a weekend (as long as it is about wizards or vampires).

On googling "Recreational Reading," I found a USA Today article, called Americans close the book on recreational reading. The article essentially states that the amount of reading for pleasure is going down and with that social and civic engagement. Sad.

However, I can totally understand how this happens. I grew up reading everything in sight. I spent recess in the school library (I know, it's surprising...) and weekends in the city library. I won all the reading contests at school and even got to have lunch at McDonald's with the principal once. (That's a big deal when you're seven.)

Anyway, I got busy with school and work and before I knew it, I was no longer reading for pleasure, or even reading at all! I woke up about a year ago and realized I hadn't read for years (except for the mandatory Harry Potter books). And I missed it! I missed being so lost in another world that I lost track of time and forgot to eat (OK, that last part didn't happen often...). I missed learning new things like how to exercise while on the road or how to write awesome use cases.

So, I made a promise to myself to start reading again. Not every now and then, but every day. This may sound impossible, but it actually isn't. It's like anything else like exercising or practicing a musical instrument... You just have to schedule the time. This is how I do it:

4:30 AM - Wake up and eat a small snack and READ for 15 minutes before going to the gym.
6:45 AM - Eat a post workout meal and READ for 15 minutes before leaving for work.
12:00 PM - Take a break from work, have some lunch and READ for 30 minutes.
8:00 PM - Snuggle up in bed, turn on the reading lamp, and READ for 30 minutes until it is time to snooze.

OK, so most days I end up skipping one of these sessions, but regardless, I get at least an hour per day. That's not bad. Reading keeps me alive and engaged. In fact, it even helps me get out of bed in the morning knowing that I'll have some reading time before the day's craziness begins.

Are you pumped about reading now? If yes, then here are some tips from my fall collection:

Simple Prosperity
Radical Simplicity
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Hot, Flat, and Crowded

Don't Make Me Think
Designing The Obvious
Sketching User Experiences
Tuned In

Warning: Once you get hooked on reading and, you may end up buying more books than you can afford (or have time to read). I have curbed this addiction with a simple rule: I can't buy a new book until I have finished reading the ones I have. It works. I currently have 40 books saved in my amazon shopping cart waiting to be purchased, read, and loved.

Enjoy your recreational reading!

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