How to Build Your Reading Diet

By: Taylor Gaines

I know, I know. Maintaining a healthy food diet can be hard enough. But maintaining a stimulating and productive reading diet is just as important.

There are plenty of reasons why you should be reading regularly. You’ll be getting smarter, sleeping better, stressing less, and living longer.

But once you decide you are going to read, how do you decide what to read?

The answer is pretty simple. Read everything. I know that sounds crazy, but let me explain what I mean by that.

557_3273723I’ll start by telling you about my personal reading diet. I have at least three different books sitting on my nightstand at all times. One is always a fiction book, something with a compelling and entertaining narrative that is typically easier to breeze through relatively quickly. As a journalist, another is usually a book that is in and of itself a work of journalism or a collection of journalistic pieces. The third is some kind of philosophical book from an author like C.S. Lewis for when I am particularly in the mood to stimulate my mind and be thoughtful about the world.

What am I reading now, you ask? The Shining by Stephen King, The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood by David Simon and Ed Burns, and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. (One-word reviews: horrifying, fascinating, and touching.)

That’s just the way that I do it! I like to be able to change up the way I think about things as I read and think about vastly different subjects as I do so. You have to personally find a reading diet that works for you. There aren’t even enough hours in the day for me to actively relish my reading diet. Typically, I only wind up finding time to read one of those three books every day.

Think about the way your mind works to figure out what will work best for you. Perhaps you can only really focus your mind on one thing at once. Maybe you have trouble staying focused on just one story. Try things out. See what feels most rewarding. You should always be enjoying and getting something out of reading.

Make sure to change things up, too. If you want to really expand your vocabulary, writing skills, and overall mental capacity, try reading many different types and genres of books. Read fiction. Read nonfiction. Read classics. Read modern stuff. Read sci-fi. Read fantasy. Read detective stories. Try out all kinds of books. You might be pleasantly surprised to find books you love in categories that you didn’t even expect to like.

Don’t ever let anyone talk you out of reading something because it is “lame,” or “nerdy,” or whatever. If you like something, whether it is Hamlet or The Hunger Games, you should read it. Take pride in the things that you enjoy. That’s part of what makes each of us unique and special. Be confident in the person that you are, not the person other people want you to be.

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I’m not here to tell you what works and what doesn’t. I’m not going to tell you that you should be reading Angus or paleolithic or gluten-free books. I’m just telling you to cast a wide net and find the things that you enjoy.

And to read, read, read, and keep on reading.

What is your current reading diet? Let us know in the comments below!

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