How to Integrate more Reading into your Life
I've smashed my reading goals in the last two years. Here are some tips to read more in your own life.
I’ve always been an avid reader. In fact, I don’t remember ever NOT being a reader; my childhood memories are filled with images of libraries and bookshelves and bedtime stories.
I read everywhere I could…on beach towels in my front yard, in treehouses in that same yard, in class when I was supposed to be listening to the teacher, in church when I was supposed to be singing along to the hymn.
I read everywhere and often; reading, I’d proclaim, was my favorite thing even when it wasn’t supposed to be (when I perhaps should have been shopping at the mall? or making out with boys?). I was a teenager who loved to read–both teenage romances and classics. I shared the passion with my parents and my fellow reading friends. I never thought to think it wasn’t cool. In my mind, it totally was.
I continued reading as an adult, through all phases of my life. I’ve had spans of years when it was harder to find the time to read (while raising small humans is a challenge for sure), but I’ve always had a book on the nightstand or in the diaper or beach bag.
Reading has remained a priority in all my years.
In recent years, though, I’ve ramped it up even more.
Last year I read 85 books, this year I’m on track for my goal of 75 (I underestimate, just in case I overachieve and look even more productive at the end of the year than I thought I would).
Today, reading is back in vogue.
And I’m here for it.
Books never disappeared like we thought they might. Technology has jointly made reading easier, while also keeping the allure alive for “real” books; social media has allowed for the sharing of books to become a trendy activity (just look at BookTok and BookTube); book clubs have become popular again; and bookstores (both big box and independent) are finding new fans.
(There are lots of theories about why reading is back, including the notion that the pandemic’s quarantining helped us rediscover our solitary, creative, and thoughtful sides. We painted, knitted, listened to music, and read.)
While I never stopped reading, others have discovered reading for the first time. They are getting excited about books, despite never having loved to read before. Others are rediscovering books all over again, remembering why they loved to read in earlier parts of their lives.
My daughter and I started a book club during the pandemic; we discussed books virtually for almost a year, and just recently moved to meeting in-person. What we’ve learned is that so many others love reading just like we do, and that many of them crave a community through books. What a wonderful thing!
Perhaps you want to integrate more reading into your life. How can you do that?
Make reading a daily habit. Find some time in your daily schedule to read everyday, and make it fit what's comfortable to your personality. (Don’t stay up late to read if you’re not a night owl, for example.) When you make something a habit, you are giving it priority. By finding time to devote to reading everyday, you are making books a priority in your life.
This may involve changing things up a little bit, but it’s worth it. You may need to binge watch one less episode a day of your favorite show, or use your lunch break to read indeed of scrolling Tik Tok, but once you change that habit and make reading a part of your schedule it will become normal to you.
Keep up with what’s popular. Don’t know what to read? Don’t even know what kind of things you like to read? An easy way to discover new books–especially if reading is new to you, or if you’re just getting back to it–is to look for information on what’s popular. Visit your local bookstore and check out its “what’s popular” displays (or simply look at the bestseller racks); google book recommendations to come up with all sorts of lists on books you should read in different categories and genres; keep up with reading clubs online (I like Reese Witherspoon’s selections; I’ve given all of her choices high marks); visit BookTok on TikTok (just search for it, or search for 'book recs'); visit BookTube on Youtube. There are a myriad ways to find out what books everyone is reading.
Make a book bucket list. Once you’ve done some research, make a book bucket list of all the books you want to read. In addition to books that are popular, add others to your list: Classics you’ve never read but want to; books recommended to you from your friends and family members; books you loved when you were younger that you’d like to reread. You can also do more creative book bucket lists (i.e.: books with colors in the titles, books for different seasons of the year; books with strong female protagonists; award-winning books; etc.).
Use reading apps to track your progress. Goodreads has made my reading so much more efficient and fun; it’s an app that allows you to set yearly reading goals, keep up with books you've read, make “to be read” lists, see what your friends are reading, rate books you’ve read, and read others’ reviews. Other good apps to track your reading include Storygraph, Reading List, and Basmo.
If you want to go ‘old school’--just buy a notebook and use it to list all the books you’ve read. Get creative and decorate your pages, give your books star readings, and write small reviews. (Note: my best friend has written down every book she’s read since she was 10 years old. The list is in the tens of thousands, and I’m officially jealous.)
Start or join a book club. I mentioned earlier that my daughter and I started a book club two years ago; it’s been such a wonderful way to read a lot of books, and to also connect with fellow book lovers. Look online and find a book club you might want to join, ask around in your community, and if all else fails start your own! (You can visit my daughters’ online book community HERE. It's called Scouting Books, and it's super fun.)
Realize that there are no “rules” to reading for pleasure. While I’ve provided you with some suggestions to add more reading to your life, realize that there are absolutely NO rules to how and what you should read. Do you love to read “trashy” romances? You do you. Do you only like to read on a screen? There’s nothing wrong with that. Do you hate to read classics? I won’t judge you. Can you only read one book a month, or do you fall asleep when you read, or do you stop reading a book midway through if you’re not enjoying it? Let me repeat: that is A-OKAY. Reading is meant to be enjoyable; it’s not supposed to be a chore.
Excuse me now while I get back to my reading.
I've currently got three books on my pile, and there are many more waiting to be consumed. If I get busy, I can meet my book goals for the year.
As George R.R. Martin has said: "Sleep is good, and books are better."
I couldn't agree more.
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