The Bookish Life: Reading More Books

01 Apr

I have always been a reader. I have loved the smell of books and the feel of them in my hand. I drool over stacks of books and gorgeous bookshelves on Instagram. I feel weird leaving the house without one. I love reading in my comfy recliner, on my patio, at coffee shops, in bed, in the car waiting for my nephew after school, in doctor's offices and on the bench outside my office on lunch break.

But in the last 15 years, the number of books I've read has dwindled and my list of books I want to read has grown so that I despair of ever reading enough. There are two reasons I think that has happened. First of all, I started a new job in 2015 that necessitated reading a lot of non-fiction which takes longer to read than most fiction does. And secondly, I bought a smart phone some years back. And it took over my reading time in a big way.

I didn't realize how much my phone had stunted my reading until I started setting limits for my phone. I have most apps turn off at 9:30 at night and don't turn back on until 9:30 in the morning. I'm also working at setting social media limits and using that time freed up to read. You might be surprised to see how much you can read if you put your phone down.

I do have a few tips for readers  who want to read more books in a year. There's are merely based on my experiences and some may not work for you. But take any that might help you for your own.

1. (As I stated above) Set limits on your phone use and social media. - You can set time limits where apps are unavailable, or times where you just turn your phone off and put it in a drawer. You'd need to make sure your spouse/children/etc know that you are doing this at the specific time and how to reach you otherwise. But setting limits on phone usage is the number one thing that has helped me read more.

2. Read everywhere. Don't underestimate the impact of reading a page or two at stolen or opportunistic moments. I've often brought books to a meeting and read a page or two until people start arriving. I read in waiting rooms and then in the office while I want for the doctor. And again while I wait to get checked out. Those few moments here and there can add up to a chapter. Don't think that because you don't have time to read half the book you don't have time to read at all. Small progress adds up quickly.

3. Don't finish books that bore you or that you don't like. I know many will disagree, but when I'm in the middle of a good that isn't working for me, I slow down my reading and go days between picking it up. Not every book works equally for everyone. Your sister may have loved it but it might leave you bored or uninterested. I give myself 50 pages to see if it gets better. If it doesn't, I move on to a new book. There's too many books I'd like to read to waste time on one that isn't for me.

4. Read the books that excited you right away. I often pre-order books from favorite authors. But when they arrive, I push them aside to read the rest of my TBR pile before I get to the newer books. That's turned out to be a bad idea for me. I've found that if I just jump into a new book when I'm eager to read it, then I can use the time before the next new one arrives to tackle the TBR pile of older books. If I'm never reading the fun, new stuff, I get bored with reading since nothing seems exciting.

5. Follow Bookish people on social media. This has helped me catch their enthusiasm for reading when I get bored with a book or when I'm not feeling like reading. They offer good reviews, show me books I hadn't heard of and give me the push to pick up something new.

6. Train yourself to read quickly. When I was in school, we had these blue reading machines that you fed paper into and read the story through a little screen on the machine. The pace the paper rolled through the machine was set by the teacher and after we read the story as it went by the window, we took a test to see how much we comprehended. If we got 100% comprehension, the speed was adjusted higher the next time. It was teaching us to read and comprehend quickly and it was my favorite thing about school. I am not competitive with other so much, but I love to compete against myself. I had to get that speed to go up each time. If I didn't get 100% on the test, I was devastated. That little blue machine helped me learn to read and understand quickly. There are lots of ways to improve your reading speed, just google it and you'll find something to help.

7. Embrace Audiobooks - I have an audible subscription that gets me one new audiobook a month. And I use both of the iPhone apps Libby and Hoopla through my local library to download free audiobooks. With about an hour in the car each work day, I can listen to a book in about 2 weeks. If I walk on the treadmill four or five days a week, I can listen to a book in about a week. That's four extra books a month that I read during time I'm already doing something else.

8 - Talk about books. Find bookish friends who will share books, make recommendations and ask you what you're reading. I've even started mailing books to friends right from the Amazon web site to encourage them to read something I think they'll like. I'm always asking people, "what are you reading?" I find this encouraging to hear and it makes me want to read more as well.

Those are my tips. Nothing earth shattering and nothing complicated. Use what will help you and if you have a great way to read more, share with us in the comments, won't you?

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