How to Read More Books
It's no secret that I love books. At any given time, I have at least 3 books stacked on my bedside table - sometimes more - all in progress. When I was younger, my mom would regularly find me in my bed late at night with a book. In grade school, all of my teachers said I had read every book on the classroom shelf.
Remember the scene in The NeverEnding Story where Bastion is hiding under the blanket reading a magical book in the attic, and then he pulls out his sandwich and coke for lunch without stopping? That was my childhood dream ... to read in a secret place all the way through lunch and dinner. Like Bastion, I was often pulled into the story I was reading - in a way that made the characters feel real, and made me feel alive. People often ask me,
Just how do you find time to read so much?!
Believe it or not, there have been times in my life when I go months without reading a book - but at the end of the year, I always end up reading at least 2 books or month as an average. Some months I fly through books - and there are other months that I end up savoring one or two books (mostly the nonfiction ones). There's just something magical about a well-written story, and it's often a book that gets me out of a mind rut. So today, I give you my top ten hints on how to read more books.
Read in front of your kids.
I'm not talking about reading books to them - although that's super important too - I'm talking about taking time yourself to read your stuff while they are around. It's important for them that they see you enjoying books. And it's important for your own mental sanity! For me, this means taking 20-30 minutes first thing in the morning to read a few chapters. Usually the girls will curl up next to me with their own books. Some days we talk about what we’ve been reading. Although Eden can’t read words, she will often tell me the story she’s been reading - either from having had it memorized or from looking at pictures.
Bring a book with you.
Wherever you go. You never know when you might end up waiting in a line far longer than you would like. Or when you'll end up at a farm with a play space that you had no idea about (True story ... totally happened to me. We were there for 90 minutes ... and I had forgotten my book!) I've been known to read a book standing in line at the grocery store. This is called using your fringe moments (there's a book on that too!) Once you become aware of the opportunities in your day where you can read, you'll realize you actually do have quite a bit of wasted space in your day!
Turn off the tube.
I can't remember the last time I actually watched TV. We have one in the basement - but it hardly ever gets used. We cancelled our cable when we first got married over eight years ago in an attempt to save money, and we haven't missed it since. In fact, it's quite the opposite - the noise of the TV bothers me terribly. I'd much rather have music playing - or live in silence - than hear the constant sound of chatter. And don't even get me started on commercials. Give me a book over TV any day.
Turn off your computer. Delete social media from your phone and download the free Kindle app. Sign up for the daily deals to get really cheap e-books. Or use Overdrive to download library books for free. You'd be amazed how much more reading you do when you don't have the ability to mindlessly scroll through Instagram and Facebook.
Set a goal.
Start small. Maybe it's one book a month. Setting a reading goal for yourself can help encourage you along the way. When you reach the goal, give yourself a pat on the back - or a big scoop of ice cream - as a reward. You'll have a new story in your head, you'll be a little bit smarter, and you'll feel amazing about yourself!
Listen to Audiobooks.
I recently joined Audible on a whim (because I got two free audiobooks with a 30-day trial), and it's been amazing for helping me - and the girls - enjoy books in a different way. I love that I can "read" while doing laundry, brushing my teeth, cooking dinner, cleaning up, driving from place to place. I have also noticed my laundry gets put away and my house cleaned way faster when I'm listening to a book - mostly because I look around to find mindless tasks to do so that I can listen to just one more chapter. If you don't want a monthly commitment to Audible, you can also listen to audiobooks from your library using Overdrive or Libby, or you can snag daily deals on Audible. (You can get a free 30 day Audible trial with 2 free credits. There's no penalty if you cancel after snagging your two free books - and they are yours to keep forever and ever. Why not try it out?!)
Don't be afraid to leave a book unfinished.
I'm all for challenging yourself to read something outside of your comfort zone. It makes us better readers. It makes us smarter. It helps us see the world differently. But the reality is, if I’m not loving a book, I read some reviews. If they are overwhelmingly good, I try to push through. If they are mediocre, I give up. There have been several books that I've put down as "mediocre" to only later pick up again and completely adore by the time I've finished it. Sometimes I find my head isn't in the right space to finish it - so I simply save it for later. Sometimes I find it to be nothing like I expected - so if the reviews are overwhelmingly good, I try to challenge myself to push through to the end. But in the end, if I'm not feeling it - I close it and not look back. I give myself the freedom to pick it up again another day - or to just leave it on the unread shelf. Don't get stuck in a book that you just don't like. There are too many good books out there to read something that is mediocre.
Pay attention to your brain.
I try to vary what I’m reading. If I read a hard book, I follow up with an easy beach read. I want to enjoy reading - and too much of the same thing can become boring after a while. I like to think of my reading list as a feast, with several different courses, that I can move between fluidly. Sometimes our life is such that we just need to escape with an easy-to-read children's literature award winner. Sometimes we want a little spice between the pages. Sometimes we want to dig deep into an old beloved classic. Listen to your brain - and give it a variety of options.
Keep track of what you read.
You can do this in an old fashioned pen and paper journal or you can do it online. I ADORE Goodreads. There's something so exhilarating about finishing a book and marking it as "Read" on my Goodreads list. It not only makes me feel good about finishing a book, but it also helps me make sure I'm reading a variety of things. I also love that I can see what my friends are reading - especially in times when I'm feeling in a reading rut and don't know what to read next.
Go to the Library.
Libraries are precious commodities. With no money in your pocket - or your bank account - you can go into a library, register for a library card, and leave with a stack of books. If you get home and decide you don't like one, it's okay ... you simply return it the next week and you haven't wasted any money! I like to place holds on books using the online catalog. The librarians pull the books for me and I can walk right in and check them out from the desk. It's like online shopping for books ... but totally free! If you aren't sure what to read, walk around the library stacks and check out the end caps to see what librarians have put out. I have often chosen a book simply by its cover - or its name. Librarians also LOVE to talk about books ... so don't be afraid to ask them what they recommend. Our library will even give you a custom book list based on your answering a few questions about what you like and are interested in. Or - if you're feeling really bold - ask any random person you see in the library what their favorite book is. You'll get a book recommendation AND you might make a friend in the process!
So there you have it. My top ten hints for reading more books. Now go get your summer reading game on! And tell me .... what will you read next?