If you follow the blog, you know I read an absurd amount of books. In fact, the main feedback I get here is that people feel like I’m recommending more books than their reading habits can sustain. People frequently ask how I can read so many books. Maybe you are a discontent bookworm who misses summers between school or long winter breaks where you could read to your heart’s content. Now a 9-5 is sucking the life out of you and you are struggling to find time to indulge your favorite hobby.
How can you read more in your jam packed life? These might not work for everyone, but here are a few tips from my regular reading habits that might help.
1. Lose the Guilt. You aren’t alone if you want to read more than you do now. I’ve got three friends that have already read more books this year than I read all of last year. That’s intimidating to me. I also have friends that are planning to read 12 books this year as a personal challenge. Guess what? Both are fine. If you read five more books this year than you read last year, or you read one book for the first time in years, or you blow my mind and read 300 books this year, those are all wonderful! Don’t feel guilt over your number. If reading is a task or a chore to you, don’t do it. This isn’t school; you aren’t being graded on your life. Read if it brings you joy; read if it teaches you something or it refreshes your mind. Don’t waste time doing something because you feel guilty.
2. Embrace the DNF. If you start a book that you hate, or just can’t get into after a few chapters, put it down. Mark it as “did not finish” and move on. Life’s too short to read a bad book or a book you aren’t into. Again, you aren’t being graded on this. If you aren’t feeling the book everyone else loved, don’t worry. Put it down and find something you are into, whether it’s what you ‘should’ be reading or not. You’ll read more if you like what you’re reading.
3. Love Lists. I’ve noticed I read more when I’m keeping track of what I’m reading. I’ve got a cute reading journal where I jot down each book I read and any quotes I love. Goodreads is also an excellent tool. You can set yearly reading challenges for yourself, get recommendations for new books, rate your recent reads, and keep a “TBR” (to-be-read) list of great books you’ve heard about or read about on blogs (ahem). That way, as soon as you finish your current book, you’ve got something you are excited about to pick up immediately. Keeping a lengthy list of interesting options to draw from is also an easy way to avoid a reading slump.
4. Bring a Book Everywhere. Keep a paperback in your purse, briefcase, glove compartment or backpack at all times. Whip it out while waiting at Starbucks, or in line at the grocery store, while waiting on your late friend to meet you for lunch, waiting for an appointment, whenever. Put down your phone for those spare minutes and spend them reading instead. Wouldn’t you rather read another chapter in your book than scroll through more wedding pictures and baby announcements on Facebook or get to another level on some app? Seize those spare moments and claim them for you and your book.
5. Set Aside Time. It sounds obvious to the point of stupidity, but if you want to read more, make time to read more. Find 20 minutes of your day to set aside for you and your book. Maybe read while you drink your coffee or eat breakfast, or set aside a piece of your lunch break. Take a relaxing bath and read, or get in bed half an hour earlier to spend time with your book. If you find 20 minutes a day, you’ll be reading over 2 hours a week. With an average-sized book and average adult reading speed, you can easily read a book every week or two just implementing this habit.
6. Make Audiobooks Your Best Friend. Audiobooks aren’t just for roadtrips. I don’t know why I waited so long to incorporate them into my life. I go in and out of being in the mood for audiobooks, but it’s a great way to add more book time into your life if you’re trying to read more. For me, time spent commuting to work, walking the dog, and working out adds up to about 12 hours a week. That’s a book a week, just multi-tasking while I do tasks I have to do anyway.
Most libraries have apps like OverDrive or Hoopla where you can download audiobooks for free onto your phone if you have a library card. If you don’t have a local library with these options, Audible.com lets you download a book a month for $15. Scribd is a subscription service that lets you download unlimited ebooks and audiobooks for $9 a month.
7. Make it Social. Reading is a pretty solitary experience, so for some people, time spent with a book feels like time stolen from community. So make it social. Join a bookclub, or mail a long distance friend a copy of a book. Swap a book back and forth, taking turns every chapter with a significant other or read aloud to each other on a road trip. It’s fun to celebrate your bookworm-ness with new and old friends. When reading adds another dynamic to your social life, picking up your book instead of binge-watching another show on Netflix is easier. It also makes you feel more cultured to spend your coffee date talking about the pros and cons of some piece of modern literature.
So there you have it, a few tips from the reading habits of this book loving maniac. What about you?