Without a doubt, the question I get asked most often is “how do you have time to read? I never have time.” My first response is almost always, “I make time.” I do. I make time for what I love, I prioritize reading, and I consider the day a waste when I haven’t at least read the news.
A disclaimer: by this, I don’t mean read more books. I mean reading more words just in the form of any content.
My second response is normally, “You’re reading, aren’t you? You’re looking at Twitter, you’re looking at your phone, you’re reading Buzzfeed.” You don’t HAVE to be reading BOOKS to be reading constantly – you’re reading when you’re absorbing content and information from written sources. So if you spend twenty minutes a day (or longer), scrolling through your feed and reading captions and tweets, you’re reading.
Some kids in my grade have recently asked me for help on becoming more informed. I’ve used these suggestions in writing classes I’ve taught at my school, but there are a lot of easy ways to read more and find what will bulk up your foundation of references for essays, personal growth, whatever.
Phones are an undervalued resource in this aspect because when people picture reading the news, classic books, or other similar sources that are “proper” intellectual references, they forget about how much time they spend scrolling through Twitter although they follow major news outlets. They forget how much time we spend clicking and reading content that’s readily available, or doing tasks that you can layer with a few minutes of content.
If you’re looking for ways to expand your reading repertoire, and get better about reading more engaging content on your phone, I have a few suggestions for you.
READ THE NEWS
If you have a Twitter, follow major news sources.
I was always encouraged as a child – in a household that had rigorous political debates and current events discussions over dinner – to read as much as I could get my hands on.
First off, my family completely supported our desire to read more, rewarding us with books when a reward was called for. I have incredible memories of getting to go to Borders because I got straight As for the year. In recent years, that encouragement has shifted towards an encouragement to read the news. My dad believes that we shouldn’t only read one-sided news. While most of my family subscribes to a political ideology, we read a lot of content from both sides of the spectrum, mixing up our palate to see both perspectives.
I really only read a few hard copies of news sources. This year, my AP U.S. History teacher vigorously made fun of me for pulling a copy of The Economist out of my backpack to cite during an American Studies debate. It happens.
When Twitter came about, I used that to get most of my news. Right now, I get most of my info from the following sources.
Personally, I’m an op-ed person. Rather than reading straight-up informative articles, I like reading the personal essays that stem from each issue and I feel as if they give me a more thorough understanding of what exactly those issues mean on a primary level so I do click on those incessantly. (And that’s why I do adore The New Republic.)
And then I customize my feed on a more personal level for things that I, specifically, am interested in.
That, I think, is the easiest way to stay up-to-date because they’re constantly tweeting current events, their own content, or talking about articles from other news’ sources that they want to spread around. If you’re scrolling through a feed anyways and see those articles, I usually just click and read it as I go. It takes some of the pressure off from “I MUST SIT DOWN AND READ THE NEWS FOR THIRTY MINUTES AT MY KITCHEN TABLE.”
No. You can do your thing scrolling through Twitter and still stay up-to-date just from being exposed to news sources interacting on the internet.
Read the Skimm or similar news briefs.
There are a few daily email-based newsletters that completely summarize recent events and current debates. I actually subscribe to NYT Now, which is the brainchild of the New York Times, and The Skimm, which is a friendly and adorable summary of all that in a more familiar jargon. It’s really fun to read actually. Whenever I have extra time during homeroom or in the morning, I immediately go to my email and start reading through news briefings. It takes about ten minutes. (Bonus: it makes me feel accomplished even if I have done absolutely nothing with my day.)
I’m a blogger so I definitely encourage reading blogs. If you see “clickbait” from BuzzFeed or bloggers you follow, why not click? I’m immediately drawn in by discussion posts and daymaker compilations from BuzzFeed.
And as enjoyable as they are, they usually have some great perspectives on current events. The way I learn about what’s going on in publishing or our society is by seeing other bloggers tweet about it. If I just followed major news sources, I wouldn’t necessarily get the whole picture or the grassroots issues that affect people day-to-day.
If you’re interested in something, click on it. Read it. It sounds rudimentary but often times I’ll favorite something as a way to bookmark it, and forget to go back and read the article.
Y’all know my Amazon vendetta. But Kindle is actually awesome and I do encourage ebooks. I would probably use iBooks if I had been introduced to them earlier but my family just has this massive Kindle library that I adore.
Ebooks are easy to read on the go because you nearly always have your phone so you nearly always have access. You can get them immediately and while I do prefer hard copies, I love having the freedom to read in my last five minutes of class. It’s how I finish SO many books that I otherwise wouldn’t have the time to do. At any given point, when I’m reading a book, I’m nearly ALWAYS reading a Kindle book to accompany it for times when I’m stranded without something to read.
LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS
I’ve always enjoyed audiobooks but never really got into them until I got a concussion last summer. Bored out of my mind, all I could do was listen to books on audio. Recently, I got an Audible subscription and I’ve listened to three books in the past two weeks. (Road trips help.)
Honestly, part of the reason why audiobooks appeal to me is that I want to read all the time! But I physically can’t. I either have homework or I’m driving or I’m too tired to keep my eyes open. Luckily, with audiobooks, I can do all of that.
I’m über picky about my narrators but if I find one I like, I could listen for ages. So I listen while I drive, and I listen while I fall asleep, and it’s really the perfect way to end a day or engage your mind while you’re doing something dreadfully boring. You can also do the same thing with podcasts, really.
And listening? Still reading.