If I read – a reading challenge for non-readers

Have you been reading less or not at all in recent years? Are you finding it difficult to start a new book or some other reading, even though you would like to? Do you not have enough time? Has your library card expired or does your favourite magazine end up on the bathroom floor? Are you in need of some tips on how to make reading easier?

Discover and take part in the Helmet libraries’ If I Read reading challenge! If I Read is a reading challenge for those who do not read much and those who have not read anything for a long time. The challenge consists of ten steps, which you can complete in part or in full, alone or with someone else. In addition to challenging you to read, the challenge provides you with concrete measures and tips on how to make reading easier and more pleasant for yourself.

Most of the challenge’s steps are taken from the Helmet reading challenge. You can ask for help on all of the steps or seek inspiration for the challenge from your local library and on the Facebook page of the Helmet reading challenge.

  1. Read something published in 2021
  2. Read a book that has been made into a film or TV series
  3. Read a book about love or friendship
  4. Read about how the world is changing
  5. Read a book that has something in common with your own life
  6. Read something that will benefit you
  7. Read outdoors
  8. Start reading a book but don't finish it
  9. Read a book involving travel by train or bicycle
  10. Read a book recommended by a member of the library staff

Tips for novice readers and those starting again:

1.If I were to read, what would I read? Ponder and write down: if I were to read something now, what would it be? What subjects and genres interest you? Do you want to read non-fiction, novels, journalistic articles, textbooks or fairy tales? Do you want to be entertained, educate yourself, develop yourself, understand something, empathise with a story or challenge yourself?

2. Get a library card if you do not have one yet. To get a library card, you need a Finnish home address and a photo ID. You can get a library card from any Helmet library. If you live outside the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, please contact the library in your area.

3. Borrow a book that seems interesting and keep it in a prominent place or carry it with you. Browse it and read snippets here and there: do not read the whole book under any circumstances! Renew the loan on time or return it after you have looked at it enough.

4. Reading is not a competition. If you have not read in a long time, your reading will probably be pretty slow at first and you may have to backtrack. This happens to most readers, so it is no reason to be discouraged.

5. You always can and may leave a book unfinished! There is no need to finish a boring, bad or distressing book. There are so many good and interesting things to read in this world that it is not worth wasting energy on something you do not like.

6. Start light. Read a book you already know or perhaps a novel that has been made into a film that you have seen.

7. Create a routine for reading. Read regularly. For example, read a few pages every night before brushing your teeth. Read while your coffee or tea is brewing. Read while waiting for a friend or colleague for lunch. If you travel regularly by public transport, read while you travel. Listen to an audiobook while jogging or cleaning or on your way to and from work.

8. Minimise distractions and time your reading. Turn off the computer and TV and put your phone on silent. If possible, close the door to your room and ask other people to leave you in peace for a while. Set the alarm to ring in 10–20 minutes, for example, and focus on nothing but reading during this time. Even if you do not make more than a page or two of progress, do not stop reading or start doing anything else; do not put the book or device down.

9. Short books are also books. Read a children’s book, a comic book or a collection of poems. You can read one or two short stories from a collection of short stories.

10. There are many kinds of reading. Some read e-books and others listen to audiobooks, while some swear by the printed text. Some enjoy non-fiction or research articles, while others like Finnish contemporary prose or Shakespeare’s plays. Some prefer Kuukausiliite or Kodin Kuvalehti to a Finlandia Prize nominee. You read a bird guide just as you read the instructions to a role-playing game.

11. Sign up for a book club. The libraries organise book clubs, but you can also set one up yourself!

12. Ask for and listen to recommendations. Join groups about reading on Facebook or follow the #kirjagram hashtag on Instagram. Try looking for interesting books using book blogs, book reviews in magazines and newspapers and the Kirjasampo service. Asking on social media may also be worthwhile: ‘Recommend a book to me and explain why you think I would like it.’

13. Talk about what you have read. After reading something meaningful, tell people about it: ‘I read this book/article and liked it / did not like it because… What have you been reading lately?’