I receive many questions from English learners about how to improve their reading.
Many English students tell me how much they hate reading and they can never finish any book they pick up to read.
But unfortunately, if you want to see improvement in your English skills you have to read. It is without question.
Reading is one of the four skills of the English language and you cannot just remove it because you don’t like it.
Why do I hate reading so much?
First, ask yourself the question why you hate reading so much.
What is it you really dislike about reading so much that you can’t bear to look inside any book?
English learners usually use the following words to describe their experience with reading:
So if we look at these three examples we can see that reading to many English students is just a painful experience.
But ask yourself this: Are all movies boring, dull or not interesting? Are all websites like this? All music?
Of course not!
Sure, there are many movies you think are boring. Some movies might send you to sleep. But not all movies.
There are many movies you watch and you cannot move from your chair because the movie is so engaging and so exciting.
And this is the same with books.
Not all books are boring. If they were, people would not spend hours of their lives reading them. There are many, many books that are fascinating and exciting. You just need to find the right books to read.
How can I find books I like?
Believe me, there are hundreds of books out there waiting for you.
You will love these books, and you will love reading them — but you need to find them.
So first of all, think about what things you are interested in.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What are you passionate about?
What are you very interested in?
What questions do you have inside your head where you must find an answer?
What things in life are you crazy about?
By answering these questions, you can now find out what books you may like to read.
So, for example, you might be passionate about cats.
Maybe you have a cat of your own and you think cats are the most beautiful animals in all the world.
If you love cats, then you will love reading about cats — right?
Now you need to find books about cats.
How to do that?
Let me introduce you to a fantastic website called Goodreads. Goodreads is like Facebook for people that love reading. On Goodreads, you can find out about any book that is published in all the world.
Go to the Goodreads homepage and scroll down to Search and browse books. There is a space where you can type words.
Let’s type in the word ‘cats’ and see what we get.
Now in this list, there are many books with the word ‘cats’ in the title. Many of these choices may not be suitable for you, but some of the books you may be interested in.
You can click on any of the titles and read more about this book.
If you think it sounds interesting, then you can download the book and read it. Or go to your local library and see if they have the book there.
But you can also see other categories to help you.
Look under the search bar and you can see things like books, groups, quotes, events, etc. The category we are in right now is books — so we are only seeing books with the word ‘cats’ in the title.
But groups might give us more information…
Now we can see all the groups that use the word ‘cats’. Some of these groups may not be useful to us — but there are some groups that are for people that love cats.
I found these two groups:
These are groups that are all about cats. And in these groups are people that love cats.
This where you need to be!
You join this group and then ask questions. Tell them you are an English learner and you love cats and you want to find out what books to read about cats.
They will help you — why? — because they love cats and you love cats!
But David, I don’t like cats…
Okay, no problem.
Go to the search bar on the GoodReads homepage and type in anything that you are interested in.
What do you like to do in life?
What things are you interested in?
Whatever you like in life, I promise you can find other people who also like the same thing. And they can help you find really great books to read.
Try it now. Type in the words of the things you are interested in on GoodReads.
Check the books that appear.
Also, check the groups.
Join one or two groups and ask the people about what books to read.
What about stories? I want to read stories…
Most people love to read stories.
Stories move people.
But if you hate to read any of the stories you are reading now, then you are reading the wrong books.
I experienced this at school. In school, I had to read books by Thomas Hardy. One of them was Far From The Madding Crowd.
I hated it.
I have never looked at it since, and I have never read another Thomas Hardy book since.
Then my teacher introduced Lord of The Flies to me.
Now this book I loved! This was the novel I wanted to read.
Do the same thing. Find novels or stories that you want to read.
How do I find novels I want to read?
I think a good way to do that, a good place to start, is to look at what movies you like.
Most people in the world love to watch movies — and they all have their favourite types of movies to watch.
What movies do you like?
Now think about the movies you watched and loved.
Let’s say, for example, that you love science-fiction movies.
I can guarantee that you could find hundreds of science-fiction books that you would love to read.
You can use GoodReads again to find many science fiction books. Or whatever novels you are interested in.
Another way you can use movies you love is to find movies that are based on novels.
Let’s continue with the science-fiction example.
Here is a list of novels that were made into science-fiction movies:
War Of The Worlds
The Hunger Games
2001: A Space Odyssey
And there are hundreds of other novels that have been turned into movies.
Find the movies that you really loved and then see if it was based on a novel. You can use Google to do this. Just search for using the following question:
Was (insert name of the movie) based on a novel/book?
Then you will find your answers.
If a movie is made from the story in a novel, the movie producers often change the name. Check for this too.
I hope I have presented to you enough information about books and how to find books you will love to read.
It is ridiculous to say I hate reading and then move on with your life.
Reading is an essential part of life, and you should adopt a strong habit of reading. Finding books you want to read is just the beginning. Once you find books you love to read, it will open up a whole new world for you.
Let me know your thoughts about reading in the comments below!