One of the things we hear regularly from people is that they do not have the time to read.

This is usually a valid point particularly in the Nigerian environment. What with bills to pay, crazy work schedules, the gnarling traffic to and from work, kids to take care of and the one million things we need to do everyday.

However, it is a scientific fact that reading stimulates certain parts of the brain and affects your cognitive function. The act of reading a book whether for knowledge, leisure or entertainment is like exercise for the brain. It flexes the brain muscles and leads to a more enlightened, sharper and all round better person.

Essentially, when you don’t read, you’re admitting that you are not the best person you can be; you are a faded copy.

To bring you back to your colourful best, here are 7 tips on how to improve your reading habits.

1. Make time. Despite all the valid reasons you have for not reading, you have no reason to accept to ‘grow old before your time’. This is a popular saying and it means allowing life to take it’s toll on you without you fighting back. Dedicate 5-10 minutes to read in the morning possibly when you wake up or during breakfast (typically, reading when you wake up is usually for religious purposes); read during lunch and read in bed before you sleep. By doing this you’d have ‘created’ an extra 15-40 minutes daily.

2. You don't have to read everything at once. Psychologists (and comedians) have coined the phrase 'analysis paralysis'. Its a situation where you analyse something so much that instead of gaining clarity, you gain confusion. So it is with books sometimes. You think so much about the time it would take you to read a particular book, you end up not reading it at all. Here's our advice, you don't have to read it all at once! Enjoy the book, get the salient points and take your time.

3. Create A Book List. It is inevitable that you will hear about certain books that you would like read. Unfortunately, these books may not be readily available when you want them or you may not have enough funds to purchase them and since the mind is prone to instant gratification, it is likely that you will forget about such books. We suggest that you create a list of books you would like to read on a monthly basis. Keep adding to your list and cross out the ones you’ve bought or read. 

4. Find a quiet place & dream. We all need to find a quiet place to go to each day where we can meditate and renew our minds. Dream about the places you would like to go to, read about those places. Dream, dream, dream! Everything in life is created twice; first in your mind and then in the physical reality. Read books that feed your dreams.

5. Read a variety of books. Don’t just pick up one genre of books; mix and match. Read fiction & non-fiction and vary them. Expand your view! You never know what you’ll get from a book. For instance, you may be a business person and in a book of science fiction, the author may be writing a fictional but important tip about the future of your line of business that will be of immense benefit to you. Do you know that there is a team of scientists who watch movies for inspiration about technology and work towards making those fictional ideas a real life product?

6. Visit a bookshop regularly. Whilst I would love you to visit only Debonair Bookstore (just kidding), there are many good bookshops around. A bookshop is a place of discovery and a place where you can meet interesting people or those who share your peculiar taste! Let me share a fantastic experience. Two people met at a Debonair event and the partner proposed a few months later at Debonair where they met. They’re now married with kids! You just never know....

7. Read to your kids. Especially before they sleep. If you are not doing this, you are robbing your kids of one of the greatest mental bonding possible between parent and child. For kids, there’s something magical about hearing a parent’s voice in a soothing tone reading a special story. If your kids are in their teens, share a book with them and swap stories. It’s a great way to be involved in their lives. When should you start reading to your kids? From the time they're concieved! It has been scientifically proven that unborn babies (in the womb) respond to music and the soothing voice of a parent reading aloud. After birth, start reading to your kids from day 1. You're forming a life-long connection. If you've missed out on this, it's never too late. Share a book with your kidsand swap stories

Of course this list is by no means exhaustive. However, we feel it’s a great starting point!

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