Select Page

May 1, 2024

Episode 26: Reading for Fun

This conversation explores the decline in reading for pleasure and the importance of rebuilding the skill. We discuss the reasons why reading is important, such as the joy and relaxation it brings, the opportunity to learn from stories, and the development of concentration and critical thinking skills. The conversation also highlights the role of reading as a model for children and the need to reverse the trend of decreased reading among kids.

In this conversation, Pam and Sarah discuss strategies for developing a reading habit. They also discuss the concept of ‘challenge reads’ and the power of books to broaden perspectives.


  • Reading for pleasure is important for personal joy, relaxation, and emotional growth.
  • Stories have a unique ability to teach and inspire, and reading allows for a deeper engagement with ideas and perspectives.
  • Reading helps develop concentration and critical thinking skills, which are valuable beyond the act of reading itself.
  • Modeling a love for reading is important for children, as it exposes them to new worlds and fosters a lifelong habit.
  • Tips for reading more include having books readily available, creating a dedicated reading space, and setting aside intentional time for reading.
  • Set a daily reading goal and track your progress using a habit tracker or apps like Goodreads.
  • Join a book club to have accountability and engage in discussions about books.
  • Explore different genres and give yourself permission to read what you genuinely enjoy.
  • If a book doesn’t capture your interest, feel free to stop reading it or skip to the end to see if it’s worth continuing.
  • Consider ‘challenge reads’ to broaden your perspectives and understand different viewpoints.

Links, Corrections, and Whatnot

Other Ways to Listen & Subscribe





This transcript was generated by AI so please ignore any weird errors. If there is anything really terrible, let us know.

Pam (00:00)
So we are both avid readers. We’ve talked before about how, you know, books that we’ve read and how much we enjoy reading. And on our sleep episode, you talked about how you use books to entice you to go to bed so you can start your evening routine. So this is a topic that we, you know, obviously both love talking about, but the reason that we’re talking about reading is because there’s been this trend where a lot of people are saying that they just cannot read anymore.

sarah (00:13)

Pam (00:29)
like even if they want to, even if they have the time, if there’s a book that they want to read, they can’t sit down and focus on a book and just read. It’s something that I’ve heard my friends say, it’s definitely something that I’ve run across. I looked at some Reddit posts where there were literally thousands of comments from people saying that this was an issue for them or that they have heard about.

sarah (00:32)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Pam (00:56)
So we thought we would dig into reading as a topic, you know, if people want to rebuild their skill for reading, we’ll go through some tips for how to do that.

sarah (01:06)

Pam (01:10)

sarah (01:10)
Yeah, I love it. And I want to add that specifically reading for pleasure. Right. And so to define reading for pleasure is you’re not reading because you want to learn something. Right. You’re just reading because it’s bringing you joy. It’s the only purpose.

Pam (01:28)
Yeah, yeah, that’s a good distinction because I think that there is this idea that, you know, we constantly have to be improving ourselves and, you know, doing self -improvement and, and all of this. And so reading has shifted to just that it’s only consuming things that are productive or making you better at work or, you know, a better partner or whatever it is like improving in some way and not just.

sarah (01:41)

Pam (01:58)
Reading for fun.

sarah (01:59)
Totally, or reading something because it’s the new thing that everyone’s talking about or won a certain award. So you think you better read that too. That’s not necessarily reading for pleasure. That’s motivated by some kind of external validation. So whether the validation is peer pressure, academic or professional, we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about reading purely for enjoyment.

Pam (02:21)
Yes. So before we dig in, I wanted to play devil’s advocate for a second and ask whether it actually is a problem. Even though people are saying that they can’t sit down and read, like what do the statistics show and what are maybe some other things that are going on? So I found a Gallup survey, which has been done every year since 1990 and

sarah (02:31)
Mm -hmm.

Pam (02:50)
they do show that based on this survey, people report reading 20 % fewer books per year than they used to. And those numbers include audio books. So I know a lot of people have shifted their book consumption from reading reading to consuming audio books. So if we take that into consideration, it’s probably likely that people are reading way more than 20 % fewer books in book format.

format, not in audiobook format.

sarah (03:21)
Mm -hmm. Yeah, and when you say 20%, what was the number per year? Was it 15, approximately 15 books for women and I think 11 or 12 for men.

Pam (03:30)

Right. Yeah.

sarah (03:35)
Oh, and the other thing I noticed and I emailed you about this was that was the number of books that people said they read in completion or they read part of it. So let’s be real, that could be reading a chapter and then putting it down. And again, nothing wrong with doing that if you don’t love the book. At the same time, does that really equal 12 or 15 books? My guess is that for many people, it’s fewer than that number of books per year.

Pam (03:46)

Mm -hmm, I agree. And this is also based on recall, which we know is totally unreliable. I was trying to remember without looking how many books have I read in the last year. And I mean, I could give you a range and who knows how close it would be on either end. So these numbers are unreliable when taken individually. But I think if we look at the trend over like what has happened over the last 20 years,

sarah (04:12)
Mm -hmm.


Pam (04:30)
people are reporting reading fewer, even if they’re counting audiobooks and even if they’re counting books that they’ve only read part of. So the trend is that people are consuming fewer books overall.

sarah (04:41)
Yeah, so the trend is people are consuming fewer books and the trend is, and a lot of this is anecdotal, but people want to be reading more books. There’s a desire, there’s a hunger for reading more books. So I think that’s where the problem is.

Pam (04:51)

Agreed, yep. And that is also clear in the groups that had the highest decrease in what they’re reading, which are people who historically read quite a bit. So the three groups were women who traditionally read more than men do, college graduates, and older Americans. So these are all three groups of people who want to have the desire to and typically do read more.

and who had a significantly larger decrease in the number of books that they’re reading per year. I just think it’s really interesting.

sarah (05:34)

Pam (05:36)
So the stats show that it is an issue. People are reading less. But I also wonder if at the same time there’s other things going on. So I think that there’s a possibility that we’re noticing how much we can’t read because there is so much to read. So what I mean by that is I notice like I’ll go to read the news and I’m you know

sarah (05:54)

Pam (06:04)
scrolling through skimming headlines and I like see a headline that’s like this looks important I should be informed about this I should read this right so I open it up and I start reading the article and pretty soon like my eyes glaze over and I can’t read the article and this happens every day so I can quickly go back you know to scrolling and find another article to read like there’s so many things that we are um

sarah (06:18)


Pam (06:32)
presented with to read, there’s so much information available that the scale of how much we’re consuming now is so much larger than ever before. So just by default, because of that, the number of things that we try to read and can’t are going to be larger as well.

sarah (06:36)
Mm -hmm.

Yeah, like we’re reading little bits of this, little bits of that, a lot of it on our device or our computer versus a long form piece, whether that’s a long form piece of journalism or a book. And I think, of course, that speaks to our attention span, right? Our poor attention span is just being distracted by everything that’s in front of us.

so many articles, so much clickbait, and it’s hard to sort of sit down and really immerse ourselves and commit ourselves to something of a longer period of time.

Pam (07:31)
Yeah. Okay, so whether it is real or perceived or, you know, whatever the causes are, it does appear to be an issue. So why is it important? Like, why does it matter if we’re reading less?

sarah (07:37)
Mm -hmm.

Well, I’ll start with my personal perspective on it, which is that reading is a tremendous source of joy. And I worry that if we get disconnected from the joy of reading, we just miss out on that. And we miss out on so many opportunities to discover new worlds, to immerse ourselves and learn from stories.

to talk about new ideas with people, to relax. There’s so many benefits from reading and beautiful writing can be awe -inspiring. It’s art, right? Writing, poetry, it’s art. I think now we can use AI and that’s great and we can get quick sort of sound bites. But when we really are moved by a piece of writing, that’s…

a beautiful experience. And so I just don’t want anyone to miss out on that.

Pam (08:52)
I love that that was your first reason that it’s important because in my notes my first reason was reading is fun.

sarah (08:56)

Yeah. Yeah.

Pam (09:00)
And that might sound like a throwaway reason, but fun is important. It is. And it’s, entertainment in this style is so specific to reading. When you become immersed in a story, when you can see perspectives, like other perspectives than ones that you hold.

sarah (09:08)
Fun is important.

Pam (09:27)
given in this story format when you are fully immersed in what is happening with the characters, I think that you get perspectives in a much more powerful and different way. Yeah, I think that it opens people up to information that they may not otherwise either be exposed to or be open to because of the format that they’re getting in.

sarah (09:38)
I agree completely.

Yeah, I have two big ideas prompted from what you’re saying. The first one is the fact that stories, yeah, we learn more from stories than we do from a lesson, like from a lecture. Like we can retain sort of that emotional lesson from reading a story. And when I think about professional development books or personal development books, and you know the style of those books where it becomes a fake story like John,

you know, went on this transformational journey and then you have to read about John’s story to sort of get the nuggets out. A couple of things, those books drive me insane because I you’re not actually a fiction writer and you’re trying to turn your lesson into a piece of fiction. So they don’t work for me on that level. But I think my bigger point here is that that speaks to the fact that people respond to stories more than they do to an essay often.

And so stories, I mean, it’s one of the most beautiful things that humans have come up with. So that was the first thing that I thought of. One of the big benefits is that you actually, even though we’re talking about reading for fun, the fact is you do learn from it. And I’m constantly learning, getting, you know, experiencing huge feelings from the books. That’s making me even more emotionally aware.

Pam (11:06)
Mm -hmm.

sarah (11:17)
it’s growing my empathy even more from all of the novels that I read. And it’s happening organically. I don’t need to read an essay teaching me all of the points about something. In all the novels I’m reading about family dynamics, family drama, the impact of wealth disparity, challenges in the education system, challenges with parents, all of these kinds of nuances that you get from stories that kind of.

widen my heart even more that I’m sure serves all of the conversations that I have with my clients and students as well.

Pam (11:54)
Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny that we were talking about, you know, the decrease in reading for fun and how we’re not talking about reading for self -improvement, but now we’re kind of coming around full circle and saying that reading for fun is improving your, yourself.

sarah (12:03)
Mm -hmm.

It is. It is improving yourself. And also we, you know, you might be somebody might be thinking, yeah, but I can watch this on TV or I can, you know, learn these things from other media, which is completely fine. I’m not anti TV, but I would say when we’re spending a lot of time consuming on TV or on the internet, we can also, that can deplete us. We all know that, that a lot of screen time can really deplete us. We might have.

like a TV hangover the next day almost, but you’re never going to get that from a book.

Pam (12:45)
reading hangover.

sarah (12:46)
a reading hangover. I mean, you might if the book is particularly harrowing, but that kind of impact on your nervous system isn’t the same as sort of being on a screen and reading.

Pam (12:57)
Yeah, that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. Yeah, and I think there’s a difference between, you know, I love movies, you know, TV, everything, again, not saying anything negative about that, but there is a different experience that you get when you’re immersed in a book. Like, you feel like you’re part of the story, I think, more than you do when you’re watching it on TV. And I think that’s because…

you are the one imagining what the characters look like and sound like and you’re building this world in your head rather than seeing it on a screen.

sarah (13:30)
It feels almost like this private experience, like a very personal private experience.

Pam (13:32)

It does, yeah. Okay, so why else is it important to keep your reading skill up? One big thing that we’ve kind of already touched on, but I think is one of the big issues, is that if you can’t sit down and read a page of text, you’ve lost the ability to concentrate. Which, you know, that has big implications beyond reading. This shallow engagement,

that we have with our world, this loss of depth of engagement with topics is harmful in the sense that, if we’re just reading headlines, if we’re not able to actually read about an issue that’s happening in the world and think about it critically, get both sides of the perspective and really think about it beyond just being spoon -fed whatever is in a headline.

sarah (14:22)


Pam (14:34)
I think that’s really dangerous for us as a species.

sarah (14:34)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm. I agree. I agree. And I feel that way when I’m on transit and I’m seeing there might be one person out of 10 reading a book and the other nine people are playing a video game or doing something on their phone. So again, this isn’t to shame anyone for doing that. We get to choose how we spend our leisure time. And at the same time, I think what I hope that…

listeners get out of this is feeling inspired or excited, knowing that it might feel like a hump at the beginning to crack open that novel and maybe sometimes it’s getting through the first 20 pages to get into the crux of the story. But then the payoff can feel so much bigger.

Pam (15:19)
I think the interesting word there that you just used is you said we get to choose what we do with our time. And we know that games and social media and internet and your phone, like everything in our world is crafted to be an addiction. So it’s habit. And so you’re actually not making that choice a lot of times. Like you could, you know, you can decide like, oh, I’m not gonna look at Instagram or TikTok or whatever your thing is. And you make that decision. And then like five minutes later, you’re like,

sarah (15:24)
Mm -hmm.

You’re right.

Pam (15:48)
I’m looking at TikTok, what am I doing? Like I decided not to do this. So we know that’s not a choice. So in this instance, what we’re saying is like, you know, be intentional about how you’re using your time and question if playing that game or what you actually want to be doing or if you want to make the choice to engage with something more deeply.

sarah (15:50)

Pam (16:17)
So one more thing that I wanted to bring up about why reading is so important is that we’re models for kids. So if we’re not reading, they won’t either. And reading was such a huge part of my childhood. Like I would curl up with a book.

sarah (16:25)

Pam (16:35)
as often as possible. My whole family read, like at the dining table, we were all reading, you know, that’s just how my family was. And it is so important for kids because it shows them what’s possible. It opens the world up to them. It teaches them to concentrate and to think more deeply. And I just think that if we’re not modeling that reading is fun, you know, if we’re only showing them that they have to do it for school.

sarah (16:42)


Pam (17:04)
then we’re depriving them of such an amazing experience. And a statistic that I came across was that 42 % of nine -year -olds said that they read for fun every day in 2020, and that was down from 53 % in 2012. So even our kids are no longer reading for fun as much as they used to. And I just think that’s so sad, and I think that it is a trend that we really need to reverse.

sarah (17:04)

Oof, yeah, I mean, that stat doesn’t shock me and at the same time it saddens me. As a parent, reading is certainly something that I’m trying to instill in both of my kids. One of my kids loves to read, the other one has been a bit more reluctant and is just starting to see the joy in it. And at the same time, you know, kids are no fools, right? They understand the appeal of the quick fix of video games.

and TV and YouTube in a way that we didn’t have access to. So when you’re talking about sitting around the dining room table, that was what was available to us. So it was easy for that to become a habit and then become a habit that we love. So we love what you’re saying around modeling that for our kids. And I agree with you, it’s fully about modeling it. It’s about showing, not telling. We can’t say, oh, you better read and turn that off.

Pam (18:06)

sarah (18:30)
If we’re not reading ourselves and we’re not modeling authentically that we’re engrossed in books, why are they going to feel attracted to it either?

Pam (18:39)

sarah (18:41)
But that’s a crazy stat just in 10 years for it to drop that much. Though not surprising because COVID happened in that time and yikes.

Pam (18:43)
I know. Yeah.

sarah (18:53)
We’ve been talking about why we think reading is really important and can be a great joyful thing to add to your life as an adult. I’d love for us to share now some of the ways reading is enriching our lives specifically. And I can share one, which is that, and I realized this a lot during COVID

because all of my travel plans stopped, of course. And I’ve always traveled, I’ve lived overseas for four years and traveling has always been something that I’ve prioritized for myself and to do with my family. And I noticed during COVID, I started ordering a lot of books that had to do with other parts of the world. So that’s something that I’ve always done. I spent four years in Asia and I’ve always, since coming home, have had…

have chosen not only, but part of my rotation would often be books that are taking place in Japan because that’s somewhere where I lived for three years and it always gives me just a warm feeling to read stories about Japan, for example. And I love reading stories that take place in Italy, in Africa, really all parts of the world, just as a way to make me feel connected to the rest of the world when I’m not traveling.

Pam (20:14)
Interesting. I’m sitting here trying to think if I’ve ever intentionally read a book about another location. And I don’t I don’t know that I have. But I think that what we choose to read does reflect, you know, what we’re interested in and what we care about. You know, I have kind of always been, even as a kid, really interested in health topics and addiction and eating disorders and like kind of the the

things that can happen to our brains. And so I tend to navigate towards stories about those kinds of things. I read a lot of like biographies and like narrative nonfiction. So I, you know, pick a lot of stories about those things. But for me,

Reading is just, it’s calming and it’s And for me, like when I get really busy, time to read is kind of the first thing that falls away. So when I do set aside the time for it and when I do have that really engrossing book, it just feels like being in a cozy blanket with a candle, like that vibe, whether I’m actually doing it or not.

sarah (21:15)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Pam (21:34)
reading has that feeling for me. It just feels comforting and it feels relaxing and it feels like I’m doing something good for myself. Like that’s just the feeling that I get. It’s just a very relaxed feeling. And when I’m engrossed in a book, that’s all I want to do. Like I’m like sneaking away to read a chapter.

sarah (21:35)
Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

So good, so good. I relate to that and also that cozy relaxing feeling And I’ve talked about this before with you and on the podcast around how it’s reading as part of my nighttime routine it really helps me to sleep and It gives me something to do that’s not TV or social media Because that’s all downstairs on the main floor of my house and then on the second floor, which is where my bedroom is. There’s no

Pam (22:17)

sarah (22:24)
television, electronics, phones, anything. And so I know when I start my routine of going to bed, I have an activity that I’m looking forward to that’s waiting for me. So it’s a way of curbing a different habit, which could be being on my computer, et cetera, with another habit that I’m consciously choosing. So it really gives me something to do that makes me feel better after the fact.

Pam (22:42)
mhmm going to go ahead and close the video. to go ahead and close the video.

Yeah, yeah, I like that. I definitely know if I have a book that I’m in the middle of, I will be much less likely to do all of those other things, right? I won’t spend as much time on social media. I won’t doom scroll news. I will choose the book over anything else. So I love that idea of like having, you know, having them on hand, even if you don’t have a reading habit or an intention that you’re gonna read a certain time every day.

sarah (23:03)
Mm -hmm.


Pam (23:21)
Having books available makes it easier for that to be the choice.

sarah (23:27)
so this this is a nice segue into Another part of this conversation that we wanted to cover which is things to try. So let’s say you’re listening and you’re thinking okay fine. I want to read more books. I want to read for pleasure Where do I start?

I love what you just said, Pam, around having books on hand. And that’s something I would suggest too. Don’t wait until the urge comes, right? It’s like stocking your food up with all the healthy foods, like stock your bedside table or your bookshelf up with a couple of books that really speak to you and have those ready to go.

Pam (24:04)
Yep. And have eBooks on your phone as well so that when you are drawn to scrolling or if you’re on train or stuck in line somewhere, then you have the option of reading instead of doing whatever else you would do to fill that time. And one of the things that you talked about before on our sleep episode was that you will have a few books going at any time. And I do as well.

sarah (24:33)

Pam (24:34)
I mean, that’s a great tip because if you just like if you’re just reading one book, you might not be in the mood for that book. So having two, three, four going at any time gives you the option. So if you are picking like what your vibe is right there.

sarah (24:47)
Yeah, I love it. And another, this is piggybacking on something we were talking about before, but I want to build it out, which is creating the right space for your reading. So for example, if you are opening up your book and your television is on in front of you with a reality show that you’re binging on and you’ve also got your phone right beside you and you’ve also got your laptop, guess what? You will not read a page of your book.

Pam (25:04)

sarah (25:15)
not because there’s anything wrong with you, just because the other things are too tempting. So if you actually want to read, I would suggest being in a different room, having your phone away, do not have it with you. For goodness sake, put that phone away. Otherwise, you’re just going to feel tempted. And then you can really get into the zone. So some people love reading in the bath, for example, or just reading in your bed or reading on your sofa, but having the other stuff away and actually setting the time and saying, this is my reading time.

Pam (25:45)
Yeah, I definitely agree with that, dedicating time and space to reading. I think people feel like, you know, reading is something that they’ve done their entire lives, so they should be able to just do it. You know? And yeah, that is right in theory, but if you’re out of practice, if you don’t have a reading habit, then you really do have to like, you know, make it like, you know, like you do, like, this is my workout time, I go to the gym, so this is time for working out and…

sarah (25:57)
Uh huh. Yeah.

Yes. Yes.

Pam (26:15)
You have to make it like the time that you exercise reading. It has to be dedicated to it. It has to be intentional. You have to reduce friction around reading. So like even if you want to be reading, like we were talking about, people want to read more. If it’s work to sit down and read.

sarah (26:19)

Pam (26:39)
then you’re gonna be much less likely to do it. So if you have this space that’s really inviting or a ritual around it that is inviting and it makes it feel easy and fun and good, then you’re gonna be much more likely to do it than if it’s like, you know, oh, I have to sit down and read at the table for 30 minutes and you know, it’s like a chore and it’s something that you’re forcing yourself to do.

sarah (26:49)
Mm -hmm.

Yeah, and interestingly, because my routine is typically to read in the evenings, but my cousin who also has super busy job and life, she reads in the mornings and I believe it’s 20 minutes and novels almost exclusively before she starts her day. So that’s what works for her.

Pam (27:23)
Yeah, that’s great.

My problem with that is I think I would start reading and not want to stop. Like oh I have to start my day. But that’s, it sounds like that’s part of her schedule and it’s her routine. So that’s another thing is to kind of set a daily goal. So if you are going to build it into your routine, say, you know, I have a goal of reading for, you know, start with five minutes a day, start with 10 minutes a day, you know, start with something small and treat it like building a habit.

sarah (27:29)



Pam (27:56)
that I have this daily goal and I’m gonna commit to it. And you can even use like a habit tracker if you wanna track how many times you’ve met your daily goal. You know, start.

sarah (28:02)
Yep, absolutely.

Absolutely. Yeah, and then another thing I’ve seen with the tracking is some people will track pages. So they might start with five pages a day or 10 pages a day. And if you’re reading 10 pages a day and you’ve got a 200 page book, well, you’re done within a month.

You know, easy as that. Yeah, so habit tracker and then there’s so many different apps as well. I use, well often I forget, but I’ve been a member of Goodreads forever and then I’ll just put the books in there and it’ll track how many books you’ve read. You can have printout trackers. So if that’s motivating, go for it.

Pam (28:42)
Another thing would be to join the library so that spending money on books is not a reason to not read. I will have that issue where I decide like, oh, I want a new book. And then I spend an hour trying to pick the perfect book. Cause I’m like, if I’m going to spend $25 on this book, it better be good. And then I never buy a book, right? Because I’m trying to pick out the perfect one. Now I do that at the library too. I will

sarah (28:46)


Pam (29:13)
look for books for an hour and never pick one out even though there’s no downside to checking out a free book and having it not be good. That’s a whole other problem. But yeah, I definitely recommend. Not only is it great to get books for free, but it supports the library. So I think that’s great.

sarah (29:17)


love the library. So on that note, in terms of finding the perfect book, I wanted to talk about that. I wanted to talk about the importance of finding books that you love and kind of expanding your appetite for different types of books. Because I think sometimes people can get like really narrow or they feel overwhelmed.

Sometimes my clients and students will be like, well, I just don’t even know what book to pick. I don’t know what I like anymore, which makes sense if you haven’t been reading. And so give yourself permission to try different genres and see what you like. For example, I never thought that I would like mystery novels because I thought I would be too scared to read them.

And my girlfriend, my friend Jillian was like, this is not that scary. I know you and I know you can take this and I know that you’re actually going to really love these books. And she gave me some of them and then I absolutely loved them. And that really just was sort of a revelation to me. Like, Oh, I can like this too. Right. So I think a lot is available to us. And similarly, I remember thinking before, well, I only saw a couple of, a couple of,

chapters, no pun intended in my reading journey. For a while, I always wanted to read professional development books. Just that was all I was interested in reading. Personal development, professional development, business building. And then I just got sick of them. Stop telling me what to do. So much of this information I’ve read before it’s just packaged in a new way. You could have told it to me faster. Anyways, no disrespect to all the great.

personal development books out there. There’s a lot of great ones. It was just my own experience. I tired of them. I’m seeing you nodding. So maybe you’ve had similar experiences. And then I started reading novels, more novels. And I would always want to read the ones that were like, you know, won a Pulitzer Prize or was considered a great work of fiction. And that’s also completely fine. But then I started just letting myself read.

all kinds of fiction, especially page turners. Because I realized sometimes before bed, I just want to read something that feels easy and pleasing and I can just sort of zip through it. And I just gave myself permission. Like, I don’t always have to be reading the greatest piece of fiction in order to feel that it’s worthy to read. Like I have permission to read whatever I please.

Pam (32:04)

Right. Yeah, that’s so funny because the next thing on my list here of notes was get something you actually want to read. Right? Like forcing your…

sarah (32:22)
Yeah. Yes, totally. And don’t pretend and don’t pretend like, oh my God, I’m a person who only likes the best caliber of book ever written.

Pam (32:31)
Right, right. Forcing yourself to read Moby Dick isn’t doing anyone any favors. Like, if you want to read the classics, by all means do. But if you want to read, like, a trashy romance novel, read that. It really doesn’t matter. This should be enjoyable. It’s not an assignment. It’s not work. It’s not a contest. You’re not trying to prove that you’re the best reader of the best books on the planet.

sarah (32:46)
Read it. Read it, yeah. Yes.

No, you’re not doing your PhD here. The whole point is reading for pleasure and enjoying it.

Pam (33:02)
Yes. Yes. So on that note, if you start a book and it sucks, stop. I hear so many people saying that they’re like forcing themselves through a book just to finish it. And it’s like, why?

sarah (33:10)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

some cost fallacy on repeat.

Pam (33:21)
Yes, exactly. Yeah. Nope.

sarah (33:24)
hard time with that one too though I often start because I’m like, oh, I’ve read 80 pages like is there going to be a payoff?

Pam (33:32)
So I have a trick for that. If you want, if you are like 80 pages in and you’re like, is there going to be a payoff? Just go read the last 10 pages of the book. Like, skip all the crap in the middle if it’s not a good book. Or you know what? You don’t have to like completely give up on it if you just want to say like, this isn’t for me right now. Maybe you’ll come back and finish it later.

sarah (33:34)
What is that?

Yeah, I love that. I love that.

Yeah, I love that.

And according to that Gallup article, I can still count it as a book I’ve read.

Pam (34:02)
There you go.

sarah (34:05)
Just kidding, I won’t.

Pam (34:06)
So a couple ways that you can find books to read. One thing, you know, you can join a book club. The benefit of that is that someone else is picking the book. So you kind of get over that hump and you’re sort of forced to read a certain book and at a certain pace so that you’re keeping up. And then you get to discuss it with others. So you get the social interaction as well. So you have accountability and social interaction all built into one, which is nice.

sarah (34:33)
Yeah, plus the satisfaction of talking about the book after and feeling like you’re actually really learning from it and expressing your views on it. I think this can be a satisfying experience for people.

Pam (34:37)

Yep, absolutely. You can always just look at bestseller lists, if you really, really do not know where to start.

sarah (34:54)
Yeah, and then, and some of the lists you’ll find have a certain vibe to them. For example, Reese Witherspoon’s book club has certain type of kind of mystery page turner type books. I’ve read a bunch of them. I tend to really like them. Oprah also has a really good list. And so if you find somebody whose lists you like, amazing, use those lists to inspire you.

Pam (35:20)
Exactly. Yep. Ask friends, you know, ask people whose taste you trust, what books they’ve really enjoyed lately. That’s a great way to do it. Just ask the internet, you know, or just pick, just pick one and start. Like we said, you can stop.

sarah (35:38)
Another option, if you’re looking for recommendations, there’s an app, a website called the Story Graph. And this came out more recently and it’s considered a competitor to Goodreads, which is another sort of well -known book tracking app. But The Story Graph will really help you, will recommend books for you and apparently has very accurate recommendations that people really like. So you just plug in,

the genres you like, examples of books that you’re looking for, and then it can give you great recommendations.

Pam (36:14)
I haven’t heard of that, I’ll have to give it a shot.

sarah (36:18)
I actually don’t use it either. I use I just use Goodreads, but I have been interested in it. I tend to have a good sense of picking out books. Like I kind of have an intuitive sense, but I would like to see what AI can generate for me in terms of book recommendations.

Pam (36:31)

Very cool, story graph. Okay. Another tip is if you have a partner or roommate, you guys could pick a book together and both read at the same time. So it feels like that’s something that you’re doing together. It feels like social time, but you’re also reading and getting that connection.

sarah (36:36)
story graph. Yeah.


Pam (37:01)
Okay, so let’s talk about what you’re reading now and maybe some recommendations to help people get started.

sarah (37:08)
All right, well, I can definitely offer some recommendations. I actually brought some with me because I love a physical prop. So this is what I’m reading right now. This is on a lot of book lists. This is hot on #Booktok Oh, we should have also mentioned for TikTok users. #Booktok is like a place where you can get a lot of recommendations and this has just skyrocketed certain authors to the top of the list. So.

I think that’s that’s a win. But anyways, this book is is very hot right now. It’s called A Court of Thorns and Roses. And it’s it’s like Sexy Game of Thrones vibe And this is book one of five. So if if I like this, well, I started a couple days ago and I’m on page 117. So it’s fair to say I like it. This was like, oh my god, page one, you’re intrigued.

Pam (37:43)
Okay. Is it like Game of Thrones vibe? Like…




sarah (38:06)
Oh yeah, she’s a very compelling writer. And so if I love this, then I’ll be hooked. I do love a series. And if I get hooked on a writer or a series, I’ll kind of do a bunch of books by that writer.

Pam (38:09)

I was just gonna say that.

Yeah, I love when you find a writer that has a series that’s out and you can just get into it because then it’s like, I don’t have to make a decision. I love this. I’m going to read all of them.

sarah (38:30)
Okay, so that’s a great segue to my next recommendation. This is one of the best series that I’ve ever read in my life. It’s called My Brilliant Friend. The writer is Elena Ferrante. That’s a pen name. So for a long time, people didn’t know who actually wrote the series.

Pam (38:38)

sarah (38:50)
This is a series of three or four books. It’s called the Neapolitan series. it’s the best book I’ve ever read about female friendships in my life. So it takes place in Italy and it’s about these two best friends who have a very sorted relationship. And it’s from the time that they’re children to the time that they’re adults. And I just,

I’ve never quite experienced anything like this book. It’s so different. The style of writing is so captivating. It’s so poetic. It’s so deep. Sometimes I’d be reading for several pages and think, what is even happening in this book? And then suddenly it all kind of makes sense. It really was a transformative experience. And I recommended this book to so many people and they also loved it. So.

I really, really recommend this book, My Brilliant Friend. And then once you read this one, you’ll want to read all of them. And by the way, there’s even a series on HBO called My Brilliant Friend, which is obviously based on this. And it takes place in Italy. And it’s really something else. This is a really, really unique book. So I wanted to recommend them. OK, great. And then I wanted to share one.

Pam (40:03)
I just wrote it down so that I can read it.

sarah (40:09)
of my other favorite books and favorite writers. So like you, I like having different things on hand depending on my mood. Now, sometimes I want to laugh. I just want something that’s going to make me laugh and make me happy. And my favorite favorite writer for that is David Sedaris. Okay, cool. Me too. So he’s one of my favorites as well. And if anyone hasn’t read David Sedaris yet, as soon as we’re done this podcast,

Pam (40:27)
Oh, love him, yes. Yeah, he’s one of my favorites.

sarah (40:38)
log on to your library and order his books. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Am I right?

Pam (40:45)
Um, yeah, I would say don’t start with the newest ones because they’re his journal entries and that might be a little jarring to start with. So I would go back to like Running with Scissors. Is that, was that him? Me talk pretty one day. Yeah, let me actually… Running with… Yeah, that’s somebody else. Running with Scissors was a different writer. So, Augustin Burroughs, he’s also fantastic. Yes, so if you like…

sarah (40:50)
Mm, true.

Yeah. Or, or Me Talk Pretty One Day. That one is amazing. Me Talk Running With Scissors? I don’t remember that title.

Oh, I’ve never read that.

Pam (41:15)
Yeah, if you like David Sedaris, you will also like Augustin Burroughs.

sarah (41:18)
Okay. Okay. Great. I’ll read that then. Anyways, the great thing about David Sedaris is he’s hilarious. He writes short stories, but as Pam said, the more recent books are his journal entries, which also I adore, but you’re right. It could be better to start with his earlier stories. And so it’s, it’s a low commitment. You can read one story easily before bed in like 10 minutes and you’re going to laugh out loud.

If you share a room with someone, you’re probably going to disturb them with your laughter. And they’re going to be like, what is going on? I’m trying to sleep. And you’ll be like, I can’t help it. It’s too funny. So I read David Sedaris. I reread the books. And they always just make me feel happy and have a great laugh.

Pam (42:06)
Agreed. He’s great.

sarah (42:08)
Yeah, so I’ll stop there. I have so many more, but those would be seven, like two, well, the new series that I’m starting so I can tell you next time how it’s going. But I do think that I’m gonna keep reading those. And then the Elena Ferrante, I’ve read everything she’s written. Not a light read, but very compelling and worth it. And then David Sideris, when I want to laugh.

Pam (42:11)

Um, well, as I mentioned before, I don’t actually read a ton of fiction. I enjoy it. But that is really where I get stuck looking at books for hours and never committing to one. But I actually really enjoy reading nonfiction. So it’s it’s fun for me to read narrative nonfiction or biographies and things like that. So I’m still enjoying reading, but

I did, it still counts. But the last fiction book that I read last year was Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. It was one of those like bestsellers that got, I think she got a Pulitzer, just one of those books that everyone was talking about. So I was like, okay, I’ll read it. And it was fantastic.

sarah (43:01)
Yes, it still counts as reading for pleasure.


Pam (43:28)
I really, really recommend it. So if anyone’s looking for a place to start, that one was great. Before that, I read two books that were kind of like easier fiction. So one of them was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Oh yeah. Okay. Great.

sarah (43:40)
Mm -hmm.

Oh, I just read that like last month. Yeah, that’s been on the list. I’ve seen that on so many people’s lists and I never read it. So I finally read it.

Pam (43:54)
Yeah, it kept getting recommended to me by the library. So I was like, okay, fine, I’ll read it. And then a similar one is as far as like the ease of reading and kind of the vibe was the Invisible Life of Adi LaRue. They’re both just sort of like entertaining and, and fast paced and, you know, kind of quick, easy reads. So if you’re looking for fiction, I think both of those are really easy places to start with.

but it’s much easier for me to pick a non -fiction book. So right now I am reading a book called Good Inside by Dr. Becky Kennedy. It’s actually a parenting book, which I’m not a parent, but I’m volunteering with a program to be a Court Appointed Special Advocate for kids in foster care. So I’m trying to bone up on my communication skills with kids.

and she was on a number of podcasts recently and I just really liked her style. So I’m reading it and I really, really recommend it. It’s a great book. And then the other one that I’m reading is called The Mindful Body by Ellen Langer. And it’s a really interesting book about mindfulness and how our thoughts can affect our body. So she’s done, she’s a doctor, she’s done a lot of studies on curing disease with

thoughts. And, you know, it’s a little bit woo -woo, but it’s like she’s actually done actual science about all of this stuff. And it’s really just really interesting to me to think about how our brains can affect our bodies. And I just finished a memoir called Troubled by a guy named Rob Henderson.

And this was about his experience as a kid in foster care and then with adoptive parents. And then the second half of the book addresses his concept that he calls luxury beliefs. And I’ll talk about what that is in a second. But this was a challenge read for me, which is something that I have been trying to do recently. I’ve been trying to listen to podcasts with interviews with people that I wouldn’t normally listen to, and read books with perspectives that I wouldn’t normally.

read, just to kind of broaden my horizons. And this guy has some connections to people that I would normally be like, I’m, you know, tuning this, this person out, I don’t, you know, I don’t want to hear their opinion. But his his idea about luxury beliefs is that, that we have this whole like, upper class of people that are starting to form opinions about things that affect.

people in lower socioeconomic classes without asking the people who are actually dealing with the issues what would benefit them. And so we’re enacting laws and social change and pushing for things to happen based on our views from our kind of, you know, elevated places where we’re not actually having to deal with the issues. So it was a really eye -opening book.

sarah (47:03)
Mm -hmm.

Pam (47:08)
for me and really interesting. And yeah, that’s, you know, if you want to introduce the idea of challenge reads into your reading habit, I definitely recommend it. It’s a little bit harder, but it is enlightening.

sarah (47:22)

Pam, is that a known expression, challenge reads? Okay, yeah. Okay, so same word. So this is choosing books intentionally because those books are presenting a viewpoint that are different from your go -to viewpoint. Is that?

Pam (47:30)
No, I just, that’s just what I started calling it. Yeah.

Yep, exactly. Yeah, reading something by an author that I wouldn’t normally read because of political views or some idea that I have had about them, you know, for whatever reason. And then going into the book with an open mind. So not reading it, not like a grudge read. I’m not reading it to be like, oh, yeah, I was right. You are a jerk. Right. Yeah.

sarah (47:58)

Yeah. Like confirmation bias, see? Yeah. Yeah.

Pam (48:14)
And I may read it and then go, yeah, I still don’t agree with this person, but now I have an understanding of where they’re coming from, or now I’m more educated so I can say with more confidence that I don’t agree with them.

sarah (48:21)

So did you, in this example of your challenge read, what did you find was the impact in terms of your pre -existing beliefs?

Pam (48:38)
Yeah, this was actually one that was really compelling to me and did sort of shift my thinking a little bit. He talks quite a bit about some of the social movements that happened during the pandemic, like defund the police and how those were, while they came out of terrible things that police did, they were really driven by people who never have to call the police. So we’re saying defund the police or we’re saying to have,

fewer police, but then the people that actually are in need of protection are the ones that are harmed when we don’t have enough police, because all these people that live in gated communities never have to call the police, and they’re the ones saying, defend the police. So that’s just an example. There’s a lot of examples, but it was really just more eye -opening to think about.

these beliefs that I’m holding on to or ideas that I have been championing, maybe I need to have a broader perspective and maybe we’re not always right just because something feels socially just, if that makes sense.

sarah (49:54)
It does. And what I’m hearing from you is an example. Well, we’re saying all books can do this. And yet, and you’re what you’re doing is you’re intentionally selecting a book that you believe will do this even more is the the power of a book to help us access kind of the nuances of other perspectives. And I think that’s what a story can do in a way that in a way that article an article or

Pam (50:17)

sarah (50:24)
might not do as good a job. A story can really give us like more of the nuances. We have like an emotional experience journeying into other perspectives. Oh, cool example. I’ve never thought of that exactly a challenge read, but I’m going to consider that. And I love that you are reading that book, Good Inside, in service of your new volunteer position.

Pam (50:36)
Mm -hmm. Yep.

sarah (50:53)
That’s super cool.

Pam (50:54)
Okay, do you have something next on your list that you’re excited to read?

sarah (50:59)
I have still so my kids brought bought me I believe 10 books for Christmas. Yeah. Because they thought it was fun. Well, they know I love reading and they thought it was fun to wrap them all. So I still have a number of those to go. But I am going to finish finish this Court of thorns and roses and see see how it goes. I mean, I have the books upstairs. I have wishlist on the Toronto Public Library.

Pam (51:05)

sarah (51:27)
Website which was down for get three or four months because of a cyber attack So you couldn’t actually request books Yeah But now it’s been restored so then it was like I don’t know listen Yeah, exactly um, so now it’s been restored so anyways, I’ve got listen

Pam (51:37)
Oh my gosh.

after the library.


sarah (51:57)
That’s another thing to do. We should have added this as a tip. Anytime you hear of a book that looks great, like I’ll take a screenshot on my phone and then I’ll add it to either my library list wish list or Indigo, which is our bookstore, like our version of Barnes and Noble here in Canada. I’ll add to that wish list. And then when I feel the urge, I’ll either request it from requested or buy it.

Pam (52:19)
Yeah, that is a great list. And you’re not starting from scratch. When you do want to read, you’ve already got a list. I do that as well with like an Amazon book list or with the library.

sarah (52:27)
Yeah. And actually just if we wanted to, as we’re wrapping up, I do have a good news story about books. I know we started the podcast by talking about the fact that on average people are reading less than we used to. I did hear some recent news that I thought was really positive, which is that independent bookstores are actually on the rise. Yeah. So in the past six years in Canada,

Pam (52:37)


sarah (52:56)
We’ve had 30 new independent bookstores emerge and they’re thriving. People are enjoying going to bookstores. They’re enjoying purchasing books. And in fact, there’s a trend for the larger chains. I mentioned ours is Indigo, Barnes and Noble, and I forget the big one in England. I forget what it’s called. But I’m not sure if you see the exact same thing in the US, but our large bookstores were shifting more towards.

Pam (53:18)
I have no idea.

sarah (53:26)
like lifestyle products mixed with the books in the bookstores. So like you’d go in there and half of the things on sale would be like pillows and candles and water pitchers and stuff like that. And now they’re shifting more. So it was almost like 50 -50 in terms of our product line. And now they’re shifting more to like 70 % books and 30 % products because apparently people do wanna buy books.

Pam (53:54)
That’s really good to hear.

sarah (53:55)
Yeah, so I don’t know if they’re just buying them and not reading them according to the Gallup study. But yeah.

Pam (54:03)
Oh, I would love to get a cozy little independent bookstore where we are right now. We’ve got a, you know, we have a Barnes and Noble if I want to go buy something in person, but I would love to have like a little corner bookstore to go snuggle up in. Add that to the list of dream businesses. So go read.

sarah (54:19)
Maybe you and CK can open one.

Yeah, yes.

Go read, enjoy, and if you want any more suggestions, we’re both happy to share.

It’s Easy to Get Our Best Tips

We won’t email often but when we do, it’ll be good. Enter your email address below to get on the list.

(Don’t worry, it’s free and we won’t try to sell you anything.)