Reading has always been one of my very favorite things to do.
I was an introverted middle child in a family of six. I was obsessed with my siblings and would never say I was a lone wolf, but I did like to take frequent breaks from the chaos of my household.
I’d hole up with a book by myself only to emerge hours later, refreshed and ready for the next board game or wrestling match (not unsimilar to my behavior on family vacations to this day, come to think of it). Books were my sanctuary and pit stop.
Like many, I stepped away from reading for pleasure in high school and college. Something about staring down the barrel of a mile-long required reading list just turned me off. Sure, I loved Gatsby, but Great Expectations? Is that the best we can do to engage our youth? No offense, CD.
The summer before my senior year of college, I sold alarm systems door to door on the East Coast (not kidding) and had a lot of time to myself when I wasn’t working. I decided to start reading again and remembered why I used to like it so much.
I was a little rusty at first but figured out a way to fold the habit back into my life.
If you clicked on the link to this post, you probably don’t need to be convinced why you should read more. Perhaps you just need a couple of ideas for your tool belt.
The best way to do something that’s good for you is to eliminate your excuses not to, in my opinion. Today I’m sharing a few of the tactics I’ve employed over the years to help me read more books.
It’s one thing to say “I want to read more.” It’s another to decide “I’m going to read 12 books this year.”
When I first started reading for “fun” again, I would set a goal to read 12 books each year. This breaks down to one book a month, obviously, and seriously anyone can do that. I recommend starting there.
Eventually I just got better at finding the time to read and for the past three years I’ve read over 30! The way I managed this was by shooting to read three books a month. Start with something doable and you’ll surprise yourself over time.
This year, my goal is 40. So I am aiming to read 4 books each month.
I recommend settling on an attainable goal. The more you read, the more you like reading, I swear.
Decide on a number that makes sense for YOU, and get going!
Despite the above rambling about goals, I truly believe the key to success in setting up systems. (Atomic Habits talks a ton about this and I will recommend that book until I’m blue in the face).
Rather than overwhelming myself with lofty goals and aspirations (which of course we all should have!), I like to focus on what I can do right now. What is a small step I can take TODAY that will move me an inch closer to that lofty goal? Does this make sense to anyone else? Lol.
Tyler and I try to read every night before we go to sleep. But this takes some planning. Otherwise, we end up on the couch watching Netflix all night and then have to summon the strength to go get ready for bed once we are already dead tired. And then by the time we’re in bed, I’m out.
We like to work backwards. Instead of saying, “let’s read tonight at 9pm,” we say, “let’s pick up the house and get ready for bed at 8pm.” After the girls go to sleep (by 6:45pm usually), we eat dinner and watch a show. Then, around 8pm, we start moving in the direction of bed so that we get there with plenty of time to relax/read/hang out before we need to go to sleep.
We clean up the kitchen, shower, etc., and then get cozy. I love being geriatric with you, Ty.
If night time doesn’t work for you, try something else. Maybe you wake up 30 minutes early and drink coffee and read on your couch. Or perhaps you spend your lunch hour with your Kindle instead of your phone? Either way, make a plan and stick with it.
Don’t bother with reading books you don’t like, ever. And don’t be afraid to quit a book! Ignore the “20 books every young adult should read” lists. This isn’t high school, so the only “required reading” is just the actual act of reading, lol.
Ever get a book hangover? It’s when you finish an amazing book and can’t find the will to open a new one. This happens to me a lot. I psych myself out thinking that nothing will ever measure up. I’ll find any excuse not to start a new one.
The best way I’ve found to combat this is to keep a long TBR list (“To be Read,” I’m a nerd, I know). I keep a note in my phone with a list of books that I want to check out. I am constantly adding to this list, so when I finish a book I go straight to it and try to choose one right away.
This is another one of my best tips, especially for moms. When I first had Charlotte, I spent SO much time scrolling on my phone while I nursed her. I mean, it was hours and hours per day that I spent looking at former Bachelorette contestants’ sisters’ friends’ pages! Did wonders for my self-esteem, as you can imagine.
Enough was enough. I needed to start taking better care of my soul. I ordered a Kindle, and it has been my best friend ever since. (This is the one I have and I love it.
I still love reading physical books and do often, but I usually have one book “open” on my Kindle at all times. I try to be diligent about reading rather than scrolling when I’m nursing.
Kindles are also just simpler to carry around and easier to read in bed with. I can lay fully horizontal and hold the Kindle against my pillow with one hand. Convenient, right?
There is something just so satisfying about finishing a book and adding it to my “Books I’ve Read” Google Doc. I have found that keeping all of my past reads in one place keeps me motivated and inspired to keep going (my doc goes back to 2013!).
I know a lot of people love Goodreads for this same reason or even a physical journal. It’s just nice to have the titles all in one place.
The list also provides an easy way to reference when someone asks for a book recommendation. (You know that particular type of panic that occurs when someone new asks what you like to read? When that happens I just stare blankly and think, “I have not read one book ever”).
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?