Books

How I Read A Lot

So I’m just going to preface this by saying, I don’t think that I read “a lot.” That’s a pretty subjective measurement! “A lot” of reading for a working mom is going to look different than “a lot” of reading for a student during summer vacation. In 2017, I only read 31 books and about 10,000 pages which is on the smaller end of reading I can do in a year. I always joke, but it’s never an actual joke, that if I could figure out a way to sit around and read books all day every day, I would.

While I was in Vermont with my boyfriend’s friends, we were sitting around the table one night talking about the books we’re reading. I’m always working on at least three books, which is a new thing for me. I used only to be able to juggle one book. We were sharing our strategies for how we read throughout the week, and we all had different answers.

(Technically speaking, I have eight books on my “currently reading” shelf with Goodreads. I say technically because one book has been on a major backburner for me and another book I gave up halfway through/ I’m hoping I can pick it up again at some point, and another book has been chronically checked out of the library, so I haven’t been able to re-download it yet. Oh, and now that I guess I gave up on another book mid-way through too.)

ONE // Have books available

The biggest trick for me to read as much as possible is to have a few different books going in different forms. I always have one audiobook downloaded, one e-book downloaded, and a physical book. This way, I have something to read whenever I have a spare moment. I’ll listen to my audiobook for the 10-minute drive to the gym, read the e-book while I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, and my physical book before bed.

As much as I’d love to lounge around and read for hours on end, that’s not how my life works. Ten minutes here, twenty minutes there is how I get my reading in. I’ve also found that having something to read available at all times minimizes the amount of time I spend doing mindless things like scroll through my Instagram’s explore page or whatever.

I am on a few press mailings for books (THE BEST) so I get a lot of physical books sent to me, and I’m a frequent bookstore shopper. (How anyone can walk out of a bookstore empty-handed is beyond me!) For e-books and audiobooks, I almost always download from my library. I use Hoopla, but there’s also an app called Overdrive too. You link your library card number with the app, and you get access to all the books your library has! So convenient. Occasionally my library doesn’t have an audiobook that I want to listen to (if it’s popular or a new release) so I’ll buy it through Audible.com.

TWO // Read Every Day

This is a little bit of a no-brainer, but I’ve committed to reading every day. There was a point last year where I hated the book I was reading, and instead of just putting it aside and starting something new, I stopped reading. After that, I told myself I’d read every day for thirty days to get back into the habit and it’s stuck. I love to read, so it’s not a challenge for me to read every day. I wish I had time to read during the day, but I mostly read before going to sleep. Sometimes it’s thirty minutes (or longer if I really can’t put the book down) and sometimes I read a page. Chipping away at the book and sticking with the habit of reading makes a huge difference.

THREE // Pick Enjoyable Books

As much as I wish I could say that I can read any book with ease, I know myself. If a book doesn’t interest me, it’s not fun. Sometimes I feel like I’m back in high school where I had no choice but to stick with it until the end. But! I’m not! I can read whatever I want…. and I know that reading great books is what keeps me motivated. So I try not to feel too guilty about picking young adult fiction over a classic or a thriller over a business book.

The one exception to this is that I’ve found that I’m able to listen to non-fiction books as an audiobook. Feels more like a podcast/lecture and since I’m typically driving, I’m focused and not nodding off in bed after a paragraph.

FOUR // Take the Pressure Off

Kind of going back to the point about being in high school, I used to HATE reading. As early as elementary school, reading was pretty competitive. We read books based on AR points, and I just remember hating that I had to choose a book with a higher point value to get to go to the ice cream party instead of reading what I wanted to read. Reading felt like a downright chore throughout my schooling. It wasn’t until college that I was able to embrace reading for fun, and man, did it open up new doors for me! I love to read. I’m careful to keep reading fun, so I never resent it. I don’t want to put specific goals (other than simply reading every day) that would deter me from enjoying it. I’ve been reading a lot of New Year’s goals/resolution blog posts over the past week and almost all of them mention a specific number of books to read in a year… if that’s what keeps you motivated, go for it! But don’t let the pressure of it ruin the fun!

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34 Comments

Lexie Wilson

omg! I do the same thing! lol I never finish because I only read (seriously) on flights. lol
But this year, I’m changing that. I feel like I need to get rid of Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime TV for that though lol haha Those things are so addicting, right?! lol

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Megan

I download library books to my kindle, and discovered that if you turn the WiFi off, they don’t disappear after the due date! I’ve never gotten a late fee, and I don’t think it affects the next person in line. It feels a little like cheating, but I work full time & have a toddler, so 2 weeks isn’t always enough time!

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Delaney

So sneaky! And I love it. I use the Kindle app so I think we probably have a similar set up. I’m not sure if your library allows it but poke around and see if you can get a book for 3 weeks instead of 2! It makes all the difference for me. I think mine automatically sets to 2 weeks but I can manually change it in a drop down to 2 unless it is a book with a waiting list.

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Whitney

I just started a book blog, and I would love to get on a few press lists–could you help me with a few tips on how you got started with these?

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Amanda @ Anchored to Sunshine

Love this post! My goal is to read 50 books this year, some actually books and some Audible. When I have a week that I know will be extra busy, I turn to my Audio books while I make dinner or workout. I try to pick up a real book and read for at least 10 minutes for bed too, it always helps relax me.

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Jess

I read 75 books last year, and 104 the year before. Definitely be reading more than one book at a time, some times you’re just not in the mood for one of them! Always carry a book with you. My kindle goes everywhere with me even though I much prefer an actual book. It’s just so convenient and light weight. But the biggest one hint I can think of to read more is walk away from netflix/tv. Also, just for fun, record everything you’ve finished reading for the year. I enjoy going back over the years to see what I’ve read/reread, and it helps me to know if I’ve already read something and can’t remember if I did! And I’ll toss this one in there too, it’s okay to quit reading a book you don’t like. If you’re not enjoying it already at the beginning, it’s probably not going to get better.

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Heather

I think your point about walking away from the TV is really key! I love reading and TV, so there’s no judgement from me, but I think it’s really easy to get sucked into mindless TV (that you might not even be enjoying!) and reading just gets pushed to the backburner.

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Stacey

So funny you say you don’t know how anyone could walk out of a bookstore empty-handed, because that is so me!! I get what I ca;; “TJ-Maxx Syndrome” and I get way too overwhelmed with too many options and walk out without anything! I have to go in with a list of what I am buying and stick to it or I feel lost.

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Heather

Always having a book (or e-book or whatever) on hand is key! There have been so many times on the metro where I could have easily knocked out 20 minutes of reading…but I didn’t have a book. It’s all about those found minutes!

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Shannon

I so wish I could read that many books in a year! I average about 12 books in a year, about a book a month. I’m going to take these tips to heart and ramp up my reading!

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Holly

Love this post because books are the best! I like to not force myself to read and to just pick up a book when it feels right – if you feel like you are forcing yourself, then you’re right, you probably won’t end up reading much. Thanks for the top tips and keep reading 🙂

Holly from The Art of Being Holly xo

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Krystal // The Krystal Diaries

One of my goals for this year is to make more time for reading. I miss the days of having time to finish a book in a day. I used to think even if I didn’t like a book I needed to finish it because if I didn’t I was giving up but I learned to just stop reading it if I don’t like it.

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K Ann

I love reading as well, and I read just about every day! It is relaxing for me and a way to unwind. My school also did AR, and it was what got me reading. I felt left out in 4th grade when everyone else got to buy cool stuff with their points and I couldn’t. My first chapter book was one of those Dear America books about the Titanic. I’ve loved historical fiction (and non-fiction) ever since. In middle school I would sometimes read a book a day for about a month and go WAY over my AR goals. Then at times I would set a high goal (confident I could meet it), but then I just didn’t feel like reading anymore for about a month, then I would pick it up again. So I agree, I HATE feeling pressured to read!

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Amy

As a teacher, it pains me so much to hear about your experience in school with reading and AR. The research is so clear that allowing kids to read the books that they want to read will get them to fall in love with reading – and I firmly believe that. My kids always have a self-selected independent reading book, and they read in class and at home every day.

The other important part of getting my students to develop a personal relationship with reading is to share my personal relationship with reading. Luckily, I love reading YA literature (I teach 6th grade), which has a twofold benefit – 1) it means that I have books I can share with my students and 2) YA books are a lot faster to read!

I’m also in two book clubs (which luckily meet a few weeks apart each month) which gets me to read adult books, as well as books that I may not pick up on my own. I do believe there is something to pushing your comfort zone when it comes to reading (and other things!) and its one of the reasons that in my classroom, my students all take part in (and complete) the 40 Book Challenge. They read 40 books a year (a book a week – also research based. Anyone reading at their level should be able to read 200-600 pages a week – so a kindergartener reading a book with 4 words on a page, or a 9th grader reading John Green) but within those 40 books, I have a few genre requirements that they have to meet.

So far, I’ve read 5 books this year, and I’ve started 4 more (all have been YA). I’ve got a book club meeting in less than 2 weeks and we’re reading Sing Unburied Sing, and my other book club meets in February and The Power just arrived for that! I also agree – I cannot leave a bookstore without at least 3 books (though again, many are YA and move to my classroom after I’ve read them).

Reading was always an escape for me as a kid, and while there were a couple of years in my 20s when I read very little, teaching reading and returned me to my love of reading, and sharing what I read!

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Kimberly

Thanks for the great strategies, Carly! I love to read but since college have struggled to make time to do it regularly. Inspired by you, I made a new year’s resolution to read more regularly, and just last night you were in my head when I thought I was too tired to read. I followed your advice and read a few pages before falling asleep, and was pleased later that I had. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Ebony

my new years resolution is to definitely read more! preferably books written by women, people of color and other marginalized groups 🙂

ebonyknowles.com

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Katie

OH I remember AR points!!! I’d pick the brown or black in hopes of passing the test, and I’d never understand the book!! Ever, then I’d fail and I think I kind of gave up hard books at that point. So crazy, right? No one told me to read smaller books and then build up my comprehension. Reading is something I love to do also! As a new teacher, I’ve had to put reading on the back burned (besides the Bible and schools items) but I do hope to get more into it during summer break! I had a bit of time to read during Christmas break and it was AMAZING! Some business books I can see myself reading in the near future. So cool you get books sent to you! Esp, since you love it so much.

Katie | http://www.sunshinestyleblog.com

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Delaney

Is it a blogger thing to be on press mailings for books? Or is there a way I could get on one too?! Sounds like heaven

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Any Given Wednesday - theavidpen

[…] read more, aside from the blogs I love etc, I’m all about the post from Carly the Prepster, How I Read A Lot. I already have quite a few books on my iPad to read along with some pre-orders, but I definitely […]

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Megan

Awesome tips. Reading everyday is key. Do you have any book suggestions? It would be awesome if you did a post about some of your favorite books over the past few years. I’m always looking for new recommendations.

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