Read more books! Here are eight tips that have helped me read more and re-discover my love of reading.
I was a bookworm as a kid. (This might not surprise you. I’ve got #nerdalert all over this blog.)
When I was a kid, my mom took us to the library nearly every weekend and we’d come home with a big stack of books. I read a lot of Carolyn Harwood’s series about Betsy, The Boxcar Children, Sweet Valley High, The Babysitter’s Club, and really anything with an interesting cover. My love for reading simmered when high school had required reading. I didn’t like reading on someone else’s deadline and it was homework. (Though I did enjoy a handful of the books we had to read!)
Flash forward to the last few years. I set reading goals for 12 or 24 books a year and it was hit and miss. Then at the beginning of last year, I made a goal to read 24 books and started getting into a grove with reading. From audiobooks to reading books that have been on my list for years, I ended up reading 53 books and I’m thrilled to re-discover my love of reading! (I count audiobooks as reading, as I would count reading aloud to a kid as reading. To each his own!)
Reading is an important part of continuous learning. It exercises your mind, sparks new ideas, improves your writing, and teaches you something new.
Here are eight tips that have helped me read more and re-discover my love of reading:
1. Make reading a priority and/or put it on your schedule.
The big thing in reading more was keeping reading at the forefront of my mind. Once you get into a routine, you’ll crave reading time. Instead of watching a tv show, mindlessly scrolling through social feeds, or playing a game, I thought of the book I was reading and chose it instead. Scheduling time to read also helps. Try an hour before bed, 30 minutes in the morning, or even 15 minutes at lunchtime.
2. Make reading goals and track them.
In the last couple of years, reading a specific number of books was on my goals list. Last year, the number was 24 books. The website Goodreads helps keep track of your yearly reading goal and cheers you on. Using the free website to track what books I’ve read and what books I want to read is helpful and encouraging. After finishing a book, one of the first things I did was mark the book as “read” in Goodreads. I’m a little competitive, so keeping track and seeing how close I was to my goal was like a game. See the books I read last year here! You can also connect with friends on Goodreads, see their reading progress, and get recommendations.
3. Keep a constant list of books you want to read.
When you have a list of books you look forward to reading, you won’t run out of ideas. I use Goodreads to mark books as “want to read” and I can go to that list to find ideas. I also put books on my wishlist through my library’s website and easily see what is currently available to check out. These book recommendations come from everywhere, and it’s never-ending!
If you need some recommendations, here are some of my favorite books I read in the last year:
- Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
- The Moth Presents All These Wonders – Catherine Burns
- Braving the Wilderness – Brene Brown
- When Breathe Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
- The Third Plate – Dan Barber
- What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding – Kristin Newman
4. Get a library card.
Reading does not need to be expensive! Except for one or two of the books I read last year, all were borrowed from the library AND I didn’t physically go the library once. My library has an online ebook and audiobook checkout system, so when the book is available, I can easily download it to my Kindle. You’ll likely need to go in person to your library to sign up for a library card but after that, browsing the catalog and checking out books can be done online. It saves a lot of time, saves fees from no late returns, and you have access to books for free! There is also an app called Hoopla that lets you immediately stream free audiobooks, ebooks, and more instead of waiting to borrow from the library.
Of course, if you’d rather have a physical book or don’t have an e-reader, you can go to the library and check books out for free too.
If your library doesn’t have a digital option, Amazon Prime members have access to free books and Prime Reading provides unlimited access for $9.99 per month. Apple also provides a few free books on their devices.
5. Get an E-reader.
I got a Kindle Fire as a gift a few years ago and it is easily the most beneficial gift I’ve received. I use it every day! I use it for audiobooks, ebooks, Candy Crush, and Duolingo. If you’re ok with the size (it’s about half the size of an iPad), it can easily be your go-to tablet. It’s also pretty affordable. A regular Kindle e-reader is about $80 and a Kindle Fire starts at $50.
6. Have a book with you at all times.
Since most of my reading was digital (ebooks and audiobooks), my Kindle lives in my purse during the day and coffee table at night. You could carry a book with you or keep a different book in your office, car, and home so you don’t need to tote it around. Have an accessible reading option wherever you are.
7. Make the most of commutes.
I have a long commute to work each day, so I plug in my Kindle Fire and listen to my current audiobook. Out of the 53 books I read last year, 21 of those were audiobooks. I feel like I’m much more productive on my commutes now. I’ve found that memoirs read by the author, especially actors, are some of the more entertaining books to listen to.
8. Find books you enjoy.
Your options are endless! Love to travel? There are books that will take you to other places. Fiction, memoirs, foodie books, cookbooks, and the list goes on and on. One thing I learned to be ok with was putting a book down if it felt unbearable. Sometimes you won’t like an author’s style of writing or maybe the topic isn’t for you. I support challenging yourself but I also think time is valuable, so use that time for enjoyable reading.
Whether it’s one book or 100 books, I hope you get some reading in this year! (The above photo shows some of my favorite books. I also showed one of the books I finished recently in the very top photo.)
I know some of my blog readers are bookworms too. Any tips you would add to help with reading more? Or what’s the ONE book you would recommend?