Until a few years ago (sometime near the end of 2020) the only books I had read were the ones I had been forced to read while in school, and I hated reading every single one of them. At first it was simply because I was being forced to, but eventually it grew to become an irrational dislike of every book supported only by the memories of school.
After high school I started to become interested in certain books, and at this time the hurdle was less the memories and more the struggle of creating a reading habit.
Choosing to start a book felt like a commitment—a very long one. I would start a book, read about 20 pages in one or two days, then stop. A week would pass, then another, and by then I didn’t remember what I’d read and was not interested in picking it up again. This happened a couple of times, sometimes with the same book.
By 2020 I was watching a lot of youtube videos on productivity—while not being productive at all, but let’s stay on track and leave that story for later—and many of them were about habits, particularly about how to build them.
Then one day later that year, while chatting with a friend, he mentioned how he had read Eragon, a book I knew and was interested in. However, like many others, I just hadn’t even tried to read it given my experience at failing to read books.
I told him I would like to start reading but I just couldn’t read more than a few pages of any book, to which he replied something along the lines of: “Ah. Well, you’ll start with this one. I’ll take it over to your house today!” And… he did.
Since he had gone to the trouble of brining it to my house, I thought I should at least give it a try, but this time, with a twist. With all those habit forming ideas that I had got from the productivity videos, I decided to read 10 pages per day.
The book had about 500 pages, which ironically was far longer than any of the ones I had tried reading before. Seeing it as 10 pages every day however, made the task seem much easier. So that very day, before going to sleep, I sat on my bed, turned on the lamp and read 10 pages. Then the following day I did the same, then the day after that, and so a habit began.
It didn’t took long for the habit’s reason of existence to shift from “because I have to” to “because I’m looking forward to reading it”. On some days I read far more than 10 pages, specially near the end. But I always read at least 10.
Then, eventually, I finished it. The first book I had ever set out to read out of my own volition, and it had taken me only a few days longer than a month (which resulted on an average of a little over 14 pages per day).
That day I messaged my friend: “Hey, you know that book you borrowed me some time ago? I just finished it. Would you mind borrowing me the sequel?”
Now I love reading. I dropped the 10 page rule for fiction. Reading roughly for half an hour before bed on a regular day, but with no strict rule, sometimes more, sometimes less. Though I stuck with the rule for non-fiction, which I read sometime during the day.
Why am I telling you this? Actually, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps someone, somewhere, will be in the situation I once was, and by reading this will on a whim pick up a book and read while following a very simple 10-page rule.
But then again perhaps not.
Still, who knows?