I was in a reading slump for years, but treating my phone like an e-reader changed the game

Treating my phone like an e-reader revolutionized the way I read.
Treating my phone like an e-reader revolutionized the way I read.Charday Penn/Getty Images
  • I've loved books ever since I read Roald Dahl stories and "Harry Potter" as a child.

  • But the older I get, the harder I've found it to finish physical books.

  • When travel circumstances forced me to buy a book on my phone, the game changed.

My love affair with books started at an early age.

I distinctly remember how my parents would lie beside me in bed as a kid, guiding me through copies of children's fiction books authored by greats like Roald Dahl and Jacqueline Wilson.

As I entered middle and early high school, my literary tastes gravitated toward young adult romance fantasy like the "Twilight" series and dystopian novels like "The Hunger Games."

I could easily finish one or two books in weeks. But that changed in college.

My attention span for anything that wasn't required reading died, and it hardly picked up whenever I had a break from classes. As an adult, that bad habit continued. I have a collection of books sitting untouched on my nightstand, slowly turning into apartment decor.

Buying a book on my iPhone was a last resort, but it jump-started my reading consumption

As a writer, I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but if I had the choice between watching TV or reading, the former wins nine times out of 10.

That is, until last month. Before traveling to the UK to visit family, I picked up the first of Sarah J Maas' adult fantasy series, "A Court of Thornes and Roses." After finishing it in a week, I tried to find the second book at Heathrow Airport on my way back to the US.

When I couldn't find it anywhere on the bookshelves, I resorted to opening Apple Books on my phone and buying a digital copy of the sequel for £6.99, or about $8.90. Naively, I thought it was going to be a one-off.

Apple Books tracks your reading streaks and allows you to input a reading goal.
Apple Books tracks your reading streaks and lets you input a reading goal.Maria Noyen/Business Insider

But it's been nearly a month, and I'm three books down with a fourth almost finished.

When I first opened Apple books, I got prompted to add my reading goal. I lowballed a mere 15 minutes a day. My current reading streak is nine days in a row, and I read well over an hour daily.

Treating my phone like an e-reader has also made it less of a distraction

Reading on an iPhone isn't perfect by any means.

Studies have documented how excessive phone use can lead to digital eyestrain and impact sleeping cycles, among other consequences.

But if I'm going to be looking at a phone screen on the subway, at home in bed, or on vacation, I'd rather it be because I'm flicking through a book than doomscrolling social media.

In a time where it's so easy to spend hours on Instagram or TikTok without thinking, I'm happy to say that reading books on my phone has done wonders to curb my social media addiction.

Even better, I didn't have to buy a new device — like a Kindle that now costs up to $249.99 — to do it.

For the first time in a long time, I'm reading books from front to back again. My phone is not just a phone anymore — it's a library.

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