“As if I’d ever want to read a book again!” I said somewhat soon after beginning my first real post-college job. If I remember correctly, a coworker had asked me to join her book club and I kind of freaked. Dramatic I know, but after migraine-ing my way through higher education’s required reading, I was left feeling devoid of desire and capacity to look at more black and white pages sans pictures. And so I didn’t. Not really…
Aside from a few required graduate school books, over the course of 7 or 8 years I went without reading more than a book, I dunno–every other year? Instead, I decided that I needed vegetation in the form of Netflix and quickly became an I-have-to-watch-TV-to-wind-down-at-night type…and I still am, but now I do books too. Read on, please.
It was much too long of a break for me. Last year when my son Graham had turned 1, I had a moment of realization that my brain had quite literally gotten dumber (O’Sullivan, et. al., 2015). I don’t know how to explain it, but I could feel my neurons firing from a sludgy engine and it felt fairly sad. Despite a renewed determination to read more, I was unsure of how to find time to read–besides adding more hours to my day…which, ya know… 😉
But here’s the good news. I figured out a plan and now over a year later, I cannot stop reading! I am often reading at least 3 books at a time…and you’ll find them in the main rooms of my house, by my bed, on my phone, and in my car. Just in case.
Here’s how I’ve managed to make time for reading again and hopefully, reverse my gooey mental faculties.*Note that in addition to traditional book resources, I’ve included options for audio books as well. As I’ve said before, some folks learn better by listening.*
Step-by-step Solutions for Reading More
- Decide what to read.
- Goodreads is just one website/app that allows you to see what your friends are reading and also makes suggestions for books you might like (based on the rating that you give to books you’ve finished). It’s free and can be downloaded to your phone or accessed by website. Amazon Kindle, What Should I Read Next?, and other websites all have similar objectives, but GoodReads is so simple and enjoyable to use. I love it.
- The Librarians‘ suggested reads at my local library have given me some rad books that I otherwise would have not found. If you take the time to physically stop by your library, check out the Librarians’ Favorites!
- Lists of the Classics. Many major newspapers and universities have published lists of their deemed “Top Literature Classics”. If you like lists, or enjoy honing your intellectual small talk skills, one of these might be a good place to find your next read.
- Poll 4-5 people you think share your book taste. I don’t recommend asking “What book should I read next?” on Facebook however, as you will get so many differing answers that you may feel too overwhelmed to read anything! Once you get your suggestions, look the books up on Goodreads to see the summary, ratings and reviews.
- Check out our “Required Reading” category or “Must-Reads” tag on our website, and find resources that will help you get to know yourself better.
- Obtain reading material.
- Local Library – Pros: free loans, people to help you find exactly what you want and quiet time for me to read/think/breathe while the kids play in the play area, and the best part: paper pages! (I adore the feeling of a real book in hand and no need to look at a screen for even more time each day). Cons: limited hours (though many libraries are open later than they used to be), sometimes your selection isn’t available at that moment and you’ll have to wait, and also most of us will have to drive or take transportation there–which will require time and cost of transportation.
- OverDrive app – I AM OBSESSED with this app. It’s free, digital and has both audio and text versions of many books. Once you have a library card for a county or city in which you live, upload your card information to the app and search the digital offerings that your library has. I am linked to two different counties’ libraries through this app and this doubles my access, as not all libraries have the same materials on the app. Books are downloaded for a time to your Kindle app (see below) or may be read in the Overdrive app or in a ePub format through web browser. Every library differs on its loan length. Mine offer loans for 14 and 21 days. Full disclosure: like the local library, the Overdrive app only has so many copies to loan out, so you might have to wait for bestsellers and other popular books.
- Amazon Kindle app – The app itself is free for phones, tablets, etc. Obviously if you have the actual Kindle tablet, the app comes preinstalled. To get books, here are some Kindle offerings: Kindle Unlimited: $9.99/month for unlimited access to 1 million titles and discounts on others; Kindle Prime: free books with Prime membership; Kindle free titles: are just that and include many classic works of literature, along with some contemporary pieces that are from burgeoning authors.
- Audible app – Seriously, is Amazon taking over the world? I alternate between fantasies and daymares over it… Anyhow, they own Audible and so of course it’s pretty darn awesome. They are “the world’s largest provider of expertly performed audiobooks”. Using the Audible app on your digital device, you have access to 180,000+ titles. It definitely has more selection than OverDrive, but it comes at a cost of $14.95/month.
- Put books in all of the (safe) places. I find that having a physical book in my bedroom, another physical book in my bathroom, an ebook on my phone, and another one on a tablet in my living room help me to remember to read when I have a few minutes. If I don’t see something I often forget about it, so visual reminders are key for me! I mention the word safe because with little kids running about, I do not leave books that are on loan from friends or library (or that I realllly care about) out where my kids are going to accidentally or intentionally damage them. I keep my bedroom and connected bathroom doors closed during the day, so that is generally where I keep those physical books.
- Make the time. I have not yet met a fully-integrated-into-society adult who has hours on end to read. Less often still have I found a mother with spades of free time that she can dedicate to reading. As with all habits and tasks, one must carve out time to complete them. Hence why I keep books in so many places. When I am waiting in the carpool line–I read.When I have a few minutes in the bathroom–I read. I might add that reading in the bathroom is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, because even my kids seem to bother me less when I’m in there using it for its intended reasons 😉 When I have collapsed onto my bed after putting my kids to sleep for “just a few minutes” (as I tell my husband Sam)–I read. On the rarest occasions, I will end up with a child that naps longer than anticipated and I’ll get to read in the middle of the day for an hour!!! But, generally, I carve out my bits of time to read in the ordinary 5-10 minute chunks of time that we all get here and there.
- Read 1 page a day. If you have a goal of wanting to want to read more, start with 1 page a day. Eventually you’ll pick up something so intriguing, I guarantee you’ll end up reading a chapter one day…and perhaps in the future, you might even end up with an opposite problem where your children are wearing rags and you’re knee deep in books waving them off while saying that they need to learn to sew 😀
- Repeat each day. I have already mentioned that my brain has some sieve-like qualities, so it should be obvious that I need assistance in remembering many things. Sincerely. Without shame, I regularly use Siri to help me remember all sorts of tasks, reading included. I suggest trying to use Siri or your smart phone’s ability to auto-schedule tasks by verbally asking it to do so. For example: did you know you can say to Siri, “Siri, remind me to read every night at 7:15 pm” or “Siri, remind me Monday through Thursday at 7:15 pm to read”?…and she’ll DO IT! Bossing Siri around has become second nature for me, but honestly she listens to me better than anyone else in this house. Ha!
- Bonus: Try Speed Reading. I think I do a very basic type of speed reading. I’m not sure which type it is, as I recently learned there are multiple types/methods, but I definitely read faster than average. Granted, I’m not so fast that I lose comprehension. My point is that this speed keeps me motivated to read more books. It’s like, “yassss I can read that next book, because the current one probably won’t take me that long!”…unless it’s Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which did take me a 3-4 months. Whew! Check out these links for fun and lemme know what you think!
I would love to know any other resources or tips you have that help you to read more. Please leave them in the comments, if you would! It would be fantastic to have some reader advice to feature in this post. 😀