I set a lofty book goal of 100 books for 2019 because I knew I would be spending a lot of time home on medical leave and would be reading more than normal. While reading well over 100 books was pretty normal for me up until my early 30s, most years now I finish between 50-75 books a year. This is still well above the national average and I get asked all the time how I get so much read. So I thought I'd share my tips. Some of these may not work for you, but I hope you'll consider reading more in 2020. Reading is fun, stretches your brain, teaches you things and gives you things to talk about at parties. So here are a few things that have helped me read more.
1. Take a book everywhere. I have always carried a book with me since I've been old enough to read. You never know when you'll have a few minutes to read and having a book handy has been a great way of reading more often. This is really easy today with so many ebook apps that allow you to have an entire reading list of books on your phone or tablet.
2. Read in small chunks of down time. I take books to meetings, the dentist office, and when I pick my nephew up from football practice. If the meeting starts late, I read. When the dentist is with another patient, I read. When I'm waiting for football practice to be over, I read. I may only get five minutes but those add up over time.
3. Audiobooks count as reading. Some books are easier to listen to than to read. And some books are so long that you'd never attempt reading them but fly by on audiobook. Plus, you can listen in the car, on the treadmill, while cleaning the house and I've even been known to listen as I grocery shop. About 1/4-1/3 of my books each year are audiobooks.
4. Read before bed. Hundreds of studies have told us that watching TV, scrolling social media on our phones or surfing the web on our tablet or laptop are ruining our sleep. Turn off the gadgets and TV an hour before bed and spend that time reading a book instead. You'll get more read and get better sleep as well. (Unless you're reading a mystery and can't possible put it down until you unmask the killer so you read all night!)
5. Use the library. Your local library likely has copies of the most recent best-sellers although you'll have to join a wait list as copies are limited. I like to use the Libby app with my library's subscription to Overdrive to download kindle books and audiobooks. It saves me money on buying books and makes me less hesitant to try new authors since I'm not paying for book I might not like.
6. Put down your phone. I hate to tell you this, but our reading habits have declined a lot since the mass use of smart phones. Stop scrolling aimlessly and put the phone down. In fact, put it in another room. Pick up a book instead. This has been the one thing that has helped me more than anything to read a high number of books. The more I put my phone down, the more I read.
7. Keep a list of books you want to read. I use the app Book Buddy to track my reading, as well as keep lists of books I've preordered and books I own that I haven't read yet. I also have a list of books I want to read that I don't own and hope to check out of the library in some format. When I'm ready for a new book, I can browse the lists and find something that interests me. Keeping a list of books to read next means you don't have to go to the bookstore or library and browse around every time you finish a book.
8. Giving up is ok. I know this one bothers some people, but I think it's ok to stop reading a book. I have a system I've perfected over the years that has worked for me. I give a book 50 pages (or about 12% on my Kindle) to grab my interest. If I'm bored, don't like the characters or can't get into the story, I give up and try something else. I almost always go back to that book and start over at a later time. Sometimes, I'm just not in the right mood for that story or that author's style. I try it again before I give up completely. It I get to the 50 page mark and I'm still not feeling it, I pass the book on to someone else. The only exemption to this rule is library books. If they don't catch my interest in the first 50 pages, I return them and don't try again.
9. Read what you're in the mood for. I used to think I had to read all my backlog of books before I could read something newer. But I was excited about the new book and by the time I finished my backlog the excitement had waned. I've learned that I need to read what I'm eager to read first. When I'm out of new books that I'm excited about, I can hit the backlog of older books and clean some out.
10. Switch genres often. I adore mysteries but I get bored with them if that's all I read. I don't enjoy fantasy, horror, or science fiction books, but otherwise, I'll dip into other genres from time to time. After I've read a few mysteries, I jump to historical fiction or a romance or an adventure book or a classic to mix things up. This keeps your reading fresh and guards against being predictable and boring.
11. Talk about books. I love to hear what others are reading. I have found some great book series by asking someone what they're reading. Using books as small talk helps me find kindred spirits and new books and authors I might not stumble upon. And talking about books makes me want to go read books.
12. Keep a reading log. I keep a list of books I've read in several places – in my Book Buddy app, on Goodreads so I can track my reading goal, and on a paper list in my planner. Watching the list grow and the number of books read go up can really encourage me to keep reading. And I know that the more I read the more the list grows. Plus, it is fun to browse the list at the end of the year and remember all those great stories and inspiring thoughts I've spent the year with.
So now it's your turn. What are your reading tips? How do you keep track of your reading log? I'd love to hear from you. (And check back to this site next week for some downloads to help you keep your reading organized.)