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!