Reading for Pleasure


Reading books serves many functions. Reading transmits (but doesn’t impart) knowledge. Memes like 52 Books a Year or bookcase zoom backgrounds generate status or signal in-group membership. But books can also be read for pleasure. My motivation in writing this article is to give myself permission to read for pleasure and to provide some tips that make reading more enjoyable.

Make reading fun

If you google “how to make reading fun” nearly every article is about making reading fun for children. But I want to have fun too and I think the advice is pretty good. Grade Power Learning lists 13 tips; here are the first 3:

  1. Pick the right books. If you want to read for fun, don’t pick a book you “should” read. Don’t feel obligated to pick up War and Peace. Read something that sounds fun. If you don’t know what sounds fun, you’ll have to try multiple books. Stop reading the book if you don’t like it. Life’s too short to force yourself to read bad books.

  2. Read aloud. While I’ve had a lot of fun reading aloud to my wife during long road trips, I think the real advice is to read in your head as if you were reading aloud. Give the characters voices, accents, paces of speech. Listen and hear your characters speak. Let them have a voice beyond the text in the page.

    Speed readers may object, because reading aloud is ~2 times slower. But I’m reading for fun, not because I’m trying to finish the book.

  3. Act out the story. As the reader, you are the actors, director, and cintemtographer1. Take time to visualize the novel in your head and be silly, dramatic, or cold.

  1. As you start thinking deeply about the book, I’d argue you also become the writer.↩︎