Did you challenge yourself again this year to read a certain number of books? Are you determined to do so even though previous attempts did not go so well? Join the club! I have changed some longstanding habits to increase my book consumption. Maybe some of them will work for you!
First, let me say that I used to be a prolific reader. Summer reading programs during my childhood made my summers. I blame law school for ruining me on reading in general and my lifestyle for ruining reading for pleasure. I you are a Type A, can’t relax, do everything for everyone individual, these ideas might work for you too.
- Make it competitive or at least an assignment. To help escape the “can I really just sit here quietly and read for an hour or two” guilt, consider joining a book club. By having a “due date” of the book club meeting, you HAVE to read to meet the expectations of your group (at least that’s what I tell myself) and even if you cannot attend the meeting in the end, you still have read the book. Use an app like Goodreads (friend me so I can follow your progress) to set a challenge for yourself. It’s awesome to track your progress within each book and see your list of completed books grow.
- Take your book to work. More often than not, if I eat lunch, I eat at my desk. Sad, but true. If you have a 30-minute or 60-minute break afforded to you for lunch, use that time to make it through a few chapters. It’s a nice escape from whatever stresses you have during that particular work day and it helps shave days off the total time needed to finish a book. If I have my book in my work bag, that also means it’s with me when I am waiting for an appointment, waiting to pick up a child, or just finding myself with a few unassigned moments within the day.
- Put your phone down–for real. If you have your book with you and you read it during the times you would normally be aimlessly perusing Facebook/Instagram/email/Pinterest/etc., then you will read more pages than you imagined possible and also slowly reduce your addiction to your phone. Don’t think you are addicted? Just wait until you aren’t staring at the screen as much as you are now, you will likely be the only person in your living room with a non-bent neck.
- Read before bed. Any article I have read about better sleep warns about the hazards of technology after dark. Using your phone in bed can wake your brain in jarring ways and make it more difficult to go to sleep and stay there than we would like to admit. It’s the device’s light that does the damage, but a book does not disrupt your sleep in that way…unless it’s a book too good to put down and you stay up too late!
- Concentrate your effort. I have rarely found success or enjoyment in reading more than one book at a time. I also only eat one food on my plate at a time, so maybe there is something deep rooted in my one-book-at-a-time philosophy. I like being fully engrossed in the story and if I am investing my time, attention, and even my emotion in multiple stories, I lose interest and am slowed overall. I would be jealous of people who have a half dozen books going at a time if it took me as long to finish one book as it took them to finish all six of theirs. But, I am pretty sure I could read six books in the same amount of time as a six-at-a-time reader, so I just do what works for me. If you are a multiple-book-at-a-time person, no judgment. To each his/her own.
- Make a list & keep it with you. Take note of books you learn about you think you would enjoy. Keep that list with you (in a tiny notebook, your bullet journal, on your phone, in your Goodreads app) so when you are on the hunt for your next book, you have ideas at the ready. If you are looking for some new ideas, try a podcast/blog like the Modern Mrs. Darcy’s “What Should I Read Next?” Several of the books on my current list have come from discussions on her podcast.
- Make a date with your library. Making a weekly or bi-weekly trip to the library is not only enjoyable, it also sets you up on a regular reading schedule–you may be picking up holds, returning your latest read, or (oops!) paying your fine, but whatever takes you into the library also opens you to the possibility of perusing the stacks and stumbling upon a book you may never have found otherwise. And the librarians are always eager to discuss what they or other library patrons have to say about certain authors or books on the shelves.
What habits have been working for you? Are you reading a great book at the moment? Pop them in comments so I can add them to my list!