A lot of us busy bees want to read more. If you’re a book lover, it’s always one of your goals. We have stacks of books on the nightstand, waiting to be devoured. We have “to-read” lists on Goodreads that scroll for days. I even keep a mental list of books that friends have mentioned to me.
How in the world will we find time to read all these books?
I’ve seen headline after headline about how the digital age is making reading a thing of the past. With so much multimedia screaming for our attention, a nice quiet book doesn’t stand a chance. One of my friends said that, at the end of the day, it’s way easier to turn on Netflix than it is to read a book. I agree!
But there’s a reason our busy brains are craving TV and Netflix instead of reading books. At the end of a hectic day, full of work, grocery shopping, carpools, doctor’s appointments and the general project management that goes on at home, ain’t nobody got brain space left to read a book.
However! I found ways to read more, even during my busy day. Even if just one of these tips works for you, you will find yourself tearing through more books this year. Maybe you’ll even meet that 12 book challenge I’ve been hearing about.
Here are tips to read more and watch TV (or your device) less.
Find the right book.
Too many times, we tell ourselves to read certain books because they got good reviews, or they’re supposed to enlighten us, or everyone else is reading them. Why? We’re not in school anymore. We can read whatever we want, so why assign ourselves homework?
Choosing the right book to read is half the battle. No one wants to snuggle down at night with War and Peace because it’s a classic that they never got around to reading. Well, maybe you do. If you find yourself setting it aside and, say, playing Candy Crush instead, then you know you’ve got a problem.
Maybe while you’re life is so crazy-busy, you should give yourself a break and read something fun. Just because you’re not reading a heavy tome on the struggles of the Great Depression doesn’t mean you’re not reading. Instead, pick up a “beach read” (I hate that term, by the way) that won’t tax your mental faculties but will give you the pleasure of reading.
Or, read a romance novel. They’re not just for Harlequins anymore! There are a lot of fantastic romance writers out there. The good romance authors defy genres, so you wind up reading more than just a romance.
Historical fiction is another fantastic genre to read when you’re already wiped out from the day. Not only do you get a good story, you can learn a little about a different time period.
Okay. You know you need a good book. How do you find the right book? Stick with me. I’ve got suggestions for where to look a little later.
Don’t be too ambitious.
Remember how I said you don’t have to read War and Peace? You also don’t have to read a book a week to say you’re “a reader.” Ain’t nobody got time for that.
The bottom line is, if you read one more book this year than you did last year, you figured out how to read more. Don’t knock yourself when you don’t reach some made-up goal. This is your time for fun! It’s not a contest.
Think of trying to read more like trying to exercise more. You have to start slow. You have to set attainable goals. Instead of telling yourself you’re going to read two books a month, start with one. Heck, start with one book every two months! There’s no “normal.”
Now that we’ve talked about setting realistic goals and not beating yourself up about what you’re going to read, let’s talk about how to make time for reading.
Only one room has a TV.
You know how they say you shouldn’t have a TV in your bedroom if you want better sleep? (Or a better sex life, but I digress.) There’s a reason. That TV is way too easy to turn on and just zone out. Studies show that watching TV before you fall asleep is detrimental to the quality of your sleep. And, you’re more likely to stay up later than you should.
I’m going to take this advice further and say that you should only have a TV in one room. No TV in the bedroom. No TV in the kitchen. No TV in the other living spaces of your house. Why?
First, the fewer TVs there are in your house, the more likely you are to pick up a book. Remember how powerful the lure of the TV is? Remove it from your space and that attraction disappears. You’re more likely to read that book sitting on the coffee table.
Second, what is the most important thing you need to read a book? Other than the book itself, I mean. Quiet. You need quiet to be able to focus on your book. You won’t get that if there’s a TV blaring in every room of your house. Making a quiet space in your home will help you associate that room with reading. All those cues will trigger your reading response, so to speak.
No video apps on your devices.
It’s not just the TV that’s calling out to you. Every tablet and every smartphone is now your own personal movie theater or TV screen. Technology is a glorious thing when it comes to binge-watching, but it can get in the way of finding more time to read.
Just like removing TVs from your bedroom will force you to read, removing YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Amazon Video and all the other video apps from your device will encourage you to read more. Frankly, watching Game of Thrones on a tiny screen isn’t the same, anyway. Ditch the apps and pick up a book.
If you hate the idea of never watching Stranger Things on your iPhone ever again, make some rules for yourself that keep the videos to a minimum. Put all the video apps in one folder that’s at the bottom of the screen. You could even title it “Break In Case of Emergency.” Only watch a TV show or a movie if you’re in a hotel or on vacation. Or set aside just one hour when you’re connect to WiFi to catch up on Big Brother.
The more ways you limit watching videos on your devices, the more time you’ll have to read.
Use a Kindle or e-reader.
You know what you can’t watch videos on? A Kindle. I’m not talking about a Kindle Fire, which is basically the Amazon version of an iPad. I’m talking about the most basic Kindle you can stand to get. Kindles and e-readers aren’t set up for any kind of videos. Heck, you can barely surf the web.
A Kindle is the perfect solution for someone who wants to read more. You won’t be tempted to load up YouTube, because you can’t! And, you can have hundreds of books on your Kindle without taking up any extra space. They’re super portable, so you don’t have to worry about taking a stack of books to on vacation or carrying a heavily dog-eared paperback to your kid’s swim meet.
I was always an avid reader. I was reluctant to get a Kindle when they first came out (yes, I’m old) because I thought I was a purist. I thought that if I wasn’t holding a book in my hand, the experience wouldn’t be the same. I was wrong wrong wrong. As soon as I started reading on a Kindle, the number of books I read tripled. It’s so easy to just get another and another, even in the middle of the night! I didn’t worry about losing them or returning them to the library. If I downloaded a digital book from the library (yes, you can do that) when my time was up, whoosh! It disappeared all on its own. Kindles are beautiful things.
Use an iPad or other tablet.
Now, after that big speech I just gave about using the most basic model of a Kindle, you’re probably thinking, didn’t you just say…? Yes, I did. But there’s a very good reason to use an iPad, Kindle Fire or other kind of tablet instead of a Kindle if you want to read more.
Here’s my problem. I get all warm and cozy in bed. I’m reading my Kindle. I feel myself drifting off. The problem? I don’t want to get up to turn off the light.
I’m sure you’re thinking, dang, girl! You lazy! Yes. Yes, I am. But I know this about myself. I know that getting up to turn off the light would be like moving heaven and earth. That was the only problem I had with my most basic Kindle: no backlight.
So, for those of us who know we’re not getting out of that bed once the Sandman sprinkles his magic dust on our wittle eyelids, a tablet is the better solution for night-time reading. I read on my bigass iPhone 6 Plus. In fact, my husband bought me the bigass iPhone 6 Plus for just this purpose. (I think my iPhone 4s only showed about six words per page.)
Now, when I go to bed, I turn off the light first. Then I use my iPhone like a flashlight to find my way into my covers. I burrow into my bwankies, and read read read. When I’m drifting off — click! — I turn of my iPhone and nightie night.
Some of you lazy folks may find that the blue light from screen interrupts your sleep patterns. If that’s the case, the newest iPhones have a “Night Shift” mode that warms up the light of the screen to decrease your blue light exposure. It’s supposed to send you off to slumber much better. Here’s an article on how to set Night Shift mode.
If you find, however, that using your phone or tablet to read is messing with your sleep patterns, then use a Kindle. Just drink a big glass of water right before bed. You’ll have a big incentive for getting up to turn off the light about an hour later.
Keep books everywhere.
Maybe you’re a purist. Maybe you’re one of those people who loves the feel and smell of a book. Maybe you don’t want to read on a Kindle or tablet. How can you still up your reading game if you can’t carry a tote bag full of books with you?
Keep a book everywhere you go. No, I don’t mean you have to buy several copies of the same book. (You can if you have that kind of disposable income. No judgement.) I’m talking about reading more than one book at a time. That way, no matter where you are, there’s a book.
There’s some debate about whether people can effectively read more than one book at a time. I’m here to tell you that you can. I read at home, but I listen to books in the car. (More on that later.) Do I have trouble remembering what was happening to Cinder the last time I was in the car? Is it difficult for me to remember where Claire and Jamie left off in my bedroom? No and no.
You’ll begin to associate different books with different places. Your brain will supply the bookmarks. Keep a book in the car, for when you’re at soccer games or doctor’s appointments. Keep a book in the kitchen, for when you’re waiting for the pot to boil or the oven timer to go off. Keep a book at the office to read on your lunch break. Obviously, bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms are also great places to keep books.
Sure, it will take you longer to read one book. Can you imagine finishing three books at once? Huzzah!
Read more than one book at once.
It’s worth mentioning that you can read multiple books at once, even if they’re kept in the same space. That way, when you find you’re struggling to get through one book, there’s always another to take its place. The important thing is to keep your interest in reading, no matter what book it is.
And if you never go back to that other book? No worries! This is your reading time. Would you sit through all 15 seasons of ER if you lost interest after three episodes? No. Don’t feel bad if you abandon a book.
Listen to books.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to add books to your mental library is audiobooks. Audiobooks are crazy enjoyable. You will be swept away when you listen to a page-turner that’s read by a talented narrator.
I hate driving, even around town. I listen to books every time I’m in the car, practically. I don’t wait for road trips. It makes running errands or driving my kids around much more enjoyable. (I listen to family-friendly books or wear one ear bud if it’s PG-13 or worse. Or, they listen to stuff on their devices while I listen to my book in the car.)
The trick is to find an audiobook that’s interesting enough to keep you, well, interested, but not so interesting that if you have to focus on bumper-to-bumper traffic, you’ll miss something important.
Murder mysteries are great audiobooks that find a balance between interesting but not all-consuming. Young adult books are also good for the car. When my kids were younger, we listened to a lot of great children’s books, like A Series of Unfortunate Events, Artemis Fowl and Just Grace.
My mom gave me the best Christmas gift ever a few years ago. She got me a year membership to Audible, which is equal to about one book per month. My Audible membership was so fantastic, I ask for it every year!
Book subscription boxes.
Subscription boxes are a huge craze right now. You can get just about anything mailed to you once a month, from geek boxes, to cosmetics, to Mysterious Packages and (yes!) books.
Some subscription boxes make books part of their whole package, like Introverts Retreat. (I highly recommend them!) Other subscriptions are just for books, and they’re awesome. Some of the subscriptions quiz you on your tastes. That way they can customize your box.
Can you imagine a box of books showing up on your doorstep every month? Heaven! You don’t have to go shopping. You don’t have to figure out what to read next. And if you’ve already paid for them, you’re much more likely to read them.
Finding your next book.
I mentioned at the very beginning of this blog that I would give you ways to find your next good read. There are numerous ways to find your next book, but I’ve got a few favorite resources I want to share with you.
Goodreads is absolutely my go-to for finding my next book. It’s like Facebook for books. It’s like asking your best friend what they’re reading, excepting your asking hundreds of your best friends.
There are lists upon lists by genre or interest. You can scan what others are reading and see if anything strikes your fancy. If you sign up for their emails, you’ll get recommendations right in your inbox. That means you don’t even have to go looking. The suggestions will come to you!
Plus, when you find something you’re interested in, Goodreads makes it super easy to remember it. Just click the “Want to Read” button under the book you’re interested in and they’ll add it to your “to read” list.
Omnivoracious is Amazon’s book blog. It’s a hidden treasure that a lot of readers don’t know about, even if they’re loyal Amazon customers. Their staff expertly curates lists of books by topic, genre or author. They also post blogs about what’s trending and what’s new. Sometimes authors post their own lists of what they recommend.
Because Omnivoracious is part of Amazon, it’s really easy to buy a book they’re talking about, or add it to your Amazon wish list. They link to just about every book they write about on their store.
Amazon, for better or worse, is also fantastic at recommending books to you. Their algorithm is masterful at figuring out what you like to read, and then making thoughtful recommendations. Just log into your account on Amazon, and head over to any book category or page. You’ll see all kinds of suggestions. Plus, Amazon customers have made lists of their favorite books. You’ll usually see them suggested on the home page of a book genre.
Of course, Amazon excels at recommending books because they want to sell you more books. But you don’t have to buy from them. You can take note of the title or author, then get the book from your library. Or, put it on your Amazon wish list. Maybe someone will buy it for you!
If all else fails…
If you really, really want to read more and the TV is really, really pulling you away from reading, there is one thing left to do: Cancel all services. That’s a pretty brutal solution. But if you’re hellbent on finding a way to read more, and you’re absolutely addicted to watching TV, it may be your only hope.
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