Habits To Help You Read More
I went from reading about one book a month in 2019 to 50 books a year in 2020. I did not sacrifice what was important to me, but I did find ways to prioritize my time. Reading is incredibly important to me and slightly more than a hobby. I find reading relaxing, informative, and well rounding as a human. As a I worked a full time job as a nurse, got married, and had a baby, those numbers did not decrease. The number one question I get from coworkers, family, and especially new moms is... HOW?! Here are some habits I've implemented to make myself read more intentionally.
Multitask: Listen While Doing Other Activities
The bulk of my reading is NOT done while sitting down and absorbing a physical book, although that is my favorite method. Audiobooks are a life saver, but also fairly new to me. It is definitely not my media of choice, but it is very practical. I have found that I have a hard time listening to a book if my hands aren't busy, so I try to do it while I'm doing everyday essential chores and activities. Some of my favorite times to listen to audiobooks are:
- folding laundry
- on my commute to and from work
- loading and unloading the dishwasher
- cooking dinner
Use The Library
Reading can become an expensive habit! New books are often hardcovers and cost more than paperbacks. There's also collectors editions, anniversary editions, and whatever other shiny new book you find. I treat my library like a bookstore. If it looks like I may like it, I check it out. There's no penalty for not reading it, and you can always get it again later. Plus, no guilt for not reading it when you didn't pay for it.
I also find lots of inspiration at my library. There's displays right when you walk in of all the new novels recently published, as well as in all of the sections throughout the library. Don't forget to ask a librarian if you're stuck on what to read next! They are full of excellent recommendations and there is often a form to fill out online where you can be provided with specialized recommendations.
Read When The House Is Quiet
For me, this is first thing in the morning. My son sleeps until about 6 or 630 and my husband gets up with just enough time to get up, ready, and out of the door to work. I wake up about 30 minutes before I have to start getting ready and make myself a cup of coffee and read before I start my day. Through and through, I am a morning person; my attention span is better and I am able to read much smoother before a full day of work and chasing a toddler around.
For you, this may look like 10 PM after your house is asleep. If you can't fathom getting up any earlier, maybe devote 30 minutes in bed to reading. I find a quiet house, a hot drink, and a good book to be my ideal peace.
Read A Book In Audiobook And Print Format
This has been a game changer. Like I said, I did not start using audiobooks until recently. I have a hard time getting into books and remembering details about characters and plot points when I attempt to start it in an audio format. Frequently, I will read a book at home in the morning, and possibly before bed at night, while also listening to the same book during my work commute and while doing things around the house.
Consume Bookish Content For Inspiration
Reading can be a lot like exercising in the sense that the hardest part is motivation! It takes way less brain power to binge Netflix or doom scroll social media, neither of which I am above after a long day. But sometimes, you just don't know how to get started and reading doesn't sound all that appealing to you. This is where YouTube and podcasts come in. I absolutely love listening to people talk about books. Go on YouTube and search "my favorite books of 2022". You'll have more book recommendations than you could possibly read. I also love to listen to book podcasts in the car. Spotify has a ton of different options for all genres of reading. Stay tuned for a post on my favorite book influencers!
Schedule Your Reading Into Your Day
The easiest way to make reading a habit...is to make it a habit. You probably brush your teeth at the same time every day, and you're used to it, and you notice immediately if you didn't. If you decided to get up early and read before work, and again right after you get off work before you have dinner, stick to it!! I would also suggest telling your family, roommates, or whoever is in your house that you are going to use that half hour (or more!) to read, and they will have your full attention when you are done. I often tell my husband I'd love to get some reading done in the evening early in the day, so he can schedule his time to work out in during my reading time.
Read Books You Actually Want To Read
I know... this sounds like a no brainer. It is so easy to get caught up in the hype though! I love reading series, but I have this problem where I feel the need to finish a series, no matter how long, and no matter how much I enjoy it....I just keep thinking maybe it'll get better? It usually doesn't. I also love seeing all the new releases. If a trusted source recommends it, you better believe I'm getting it. I'll then have a hard time enjoying it and refuse to DNF it because if so-and-so loved it, then so should I!! Read what fills your cup, not what you feel obligated to. If that's all romance all the time, then embrace it.
Mix It Up
Don't read 800 page book after 800 page book. You're gonna get burned out! Throw in a middle grade, a YA, or a short thriller in between those heftier books. Also embrace a change in genre. If I'm reading an extensive fantasy series, I'll slot some historical fiction or romance books in between my intense world building fantasy novels.
The best way to read more is to find what works for you. Just don't force it. Fifty books a year is my sweet spot...maybe yours is 100, maybe it's 24. Making reading a habit is something we do to lead happier and fuller lives. It should no longer feel like you're being forced to read The Tale of Two Cities by your English teacher. Give yourself time to find your footing if needed. Happy reading!