In 2017 I tried to read 100 books (only made it to the 60s). This year I set the goal at 100 again, but really I’m just trying to read more than I did last year: 2 books a week is probably an unreasonable goal for me anyway. I have several reasons for aiming high with my reading goal:
- Reading is a life long love. My first best friends were Anne Shirley, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Lucy Pevensie. I lived with my nose in a book. High school and college dampened my book-love with their years of forced-reading. I wandered away from reading again when I had small children, because of years of, well, small children. Picking up a good book is a gentle reminder of the comfort and friends books have been my entire life.
- I worry that the internet is making us all dumb. As a teenager I read Shakespeare and Jane Austen for fun, as an English Lit major I read long books, boring books, ridiculously hard books. I surfaced from those small child years into the smart phone years. and I realized that my attention span had been reduced to 144 character chunks.
- My phone is the main enemy to my reading life. The first year I tracked my reading on Goodreads I read 46 books, without even trying. Having an audacious reading goal encourages me to put down my dang phone.
Would you like to return to your childhood love of reading? Increase your attention span and avoid the dumbing down of soundbites, tweets, and everything else the internet lulls us with? Need an alternative to your phone?
6 Easy Things You Can Do To Read More
Read a series
Finding a series you enjoy takes the “what should I read next” out of reading, letting you speed from one book to the next. Here are some I’d recommend:
- Well-written, edge of your seat mysteries with a psychological bent and a quirky small town setting.
- Gentle, comforting books with great characters and small town faith, like the book version of a Hallmark movie.
- Funny chick-lit mysteries with a strong female lead.
Make reading part of your daily schedule
I’ve set aside certain times just for reading. This works differently in different seasons, but I like to read first thing in the morning (usually Christian growth) and at night before going to bed (fiction.) Right now I’m trying to sit down and read for a bit after work, while the boys do their homework (if I’m not reading at this time, I’m messing around on my phone…)
Read while you’re driving, cooking, getting things done. Even housecleaning (not my fave) is more enjoyable when listening to a book. I have different taste in Audiobooks than in physical books, so it took some time for audio-reading to click for me.
My favorite audiobooks are memoirs (Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Shonda Rimes’ Year of Yes, both read by their authors, are fantastic), light self-help nonfiction (I adore Gretchen Rubin’s books on audio), and gentle mysteries (like the Maisie Dobbs Books.) I can’t listen to anything scary or suspenseful, but if a book seems long and slightly boring, I might try it on audio (I’ve listened to quite a few classics, Middlemarch last year, and working my way – sloooowly – through Anna Karenina right now.)
I listen to anything I can get from the library for free through the Overdrive app, but we also love Audible. With a membership, you get a free audiobook every month, plus they have a daily deal that regularly features something on my to be read list. Audible has a great deal right now, try it out for free for 30 days, and get 2 free audiobooks.
amzn_assoc_ad_type = “banner”;
amzn_assoc_marketplace = “amazon”;
amzn_assoc_region = “US”;
amzn_assoc_placement = “assoc_banner_placement_default”;
amzn_assoc_campaigns = “audible”;
amzn_assoc_banner_type = “category”;
amzn_assoc_isresponsive = “true”;
amzn_assoc_banner_id = “0K1RAH4WXPPV6AF4B002”;
amzn_assoc_tracking_id = “bojo00f-20”;
amzn_assoc_linkid = “fb4f268f1c5109dbb0138332aa02233e”;
Keep a book with you at all times
I hardly ever get to the school early enough to actually read, but I put a book in my car every day, just in case. If I end up waiting for a kid’s practice to end, waiting for a friend to show up for lunch, waiting for an appointment, I’d rather be reading than scrolling on my phone.
Track your reading
This may work better for some personalities than others, but seeing my list of books grow week by week is motivating for me. I use Goodreads, but you could also just keep a list in the back of a notebook. I find it super satisfying to add books to my list, and see that number climb. When I’m tempted to just mess around on my phone, it helps me to think of my reading goal, and how good it will feel to add a finished book to my list.
Mix it up & Put it down
Maybe more than any other strategy, changing up the kinds of books I’m reading helps me read more. I alternate fiction and non-fiction, but I’ve also learned to follow up a heavy book with something lighter. If I finish a super long book, I need to have an easy, quick book waiting. I’m finishing up a longish book with heavier themes right now, and I have another kind of meaty book I’ve been dying to get to. But I know I need a break, so I have the second book in a fun series waiting for me, almost like dessert.
I’ve also learned that grown ups don’t have to finish books they aren’t enjoying. I don’t have to quit forever, I can always come back if I want to. Most of the books I’ve abandoned over the past few years I’ll probably read eventually, they just weren’t what I needed at that exact reading moment (my goal next month is to go back and finish some of my abandoned books from the past few years.)
Have you tried any of these things, and did they help? Why are you interested in reading more, and what’s helped you?