In the 5th grade I fell in love with reading! — I know, I know! This sounds like such a geeky thing. ha! But it’s true! In the 5th grade (when my English teacher would make us have a quite reading hour in class) I learned the power of reading for pleasure and being an avid reader. Fast forward to today, I’ve have no idea how many I’ve read (there are so many!!) and it’s still a hobby I like to indulge in today. Unfortunately, I don’t nearly have as much time to read for leisure as I would like to (because Adulting!).
If you’re finding yourself in a similar situation: You want to read more (for various personal reasons: mindfulness, to unplug, for mental stimulation and strengthening), but can’t seem to find the time, fret not! These quick tips will definitely do the trick!
Figure out what you like
This is definitely the most important step. And it’s so worth the time it may take in investing in yourself and figuring out the type of books you like best. Too often, people get hung up on reading books that are highly acclaimed or that other people love, and not the things they truly love. What if you don’t like novels, or self-help books? What if cook books, DIY books, Poetry books, coffee table books, or car books (with lots of pictures and descriptions) are much more your thing? (Also, don’t forget about instruction manuals, and magazines!) ha!
I’m totally a novel girl myself. But it’s immensely harder for me to get through a self-help/instructional style book. And my husband on the hand, doesn’t consider himself as much of a “reader”. Yet, he’s always had the desire to read more. And the moment I bought him an ebook on iconic men and their icon watches (he’s a watchman), he was throughly engulfed for days on end. In summary, the first step to reading more is to selecting books on a subject matter that you actually care about, you WANT to learn more about, and that are your style.
Set a Goal
Reading for pleasure is not a race. There are no deadlines of completion except for the ones WE set for ourselves. But if reading a certain amount of books a month or year is important to you, than setting reading goals are key! Whether it be one a month, two a month, or 2 a year! — Set a realistic goal for yourself, create a tracking sheet if that helps, and stay conscious of where you are in relation to completing those goals throughout your week.
My personal goal, the past two years, has been to complete one book a month. This is a pace that I have found is not too stressful but it does keep me accountable to regularly indulging in the mental practice. My personal goals are more centered around reading more outside of social media and the web, so this has been a great way to keep track of where I am in relation to that.
Do it when you can
When I think of reading (as the mom of a toddler) I like to think of the story of the tortious and the hare. How apropos to draw an analogy from a kids story/fable right? ha! — But ask anyone what the moral of that story is, and they’ll remember: It’s not about how fast you’re going in comparison to others, but about pacing yourself, being consistent and actually finishing. And that’s my same philosophy around books these days. I may not be able to finish a book in two or three days like I used to do in my younger years [and for good reason!]. Life is filled with so much more responsibility and legit things that take up my time these days. But as long as I consistently set aside time to pick one up, and chip away at the chapters or stories, I will eventually finish. On the bus on my way to work, in a coffee shop when I have a few mins of me time, in the car before school pickup, at home when I’m waiting for my husband to make his next chess move (lol!). Make it a habit of picking up your book instead of picking up your cell phone to check your social 50% (or more) of the time. Get it in, where ever you can! And you’ll find yourself enjoying this spare moments more. It’s not a race. But you will create an intentional pace.
Lastly, If you’ve been finding yourself unsuccessful in finishing books that you start (because Life!) this is an excellent way to adjust your expectations and let yourself off the hook. Try it, and watch yourself focus more of the journey of a good book, than rushing through.
Go Old School or New School
This also was a game changers for me. In recent years (like the rest of the world) I’ve become accustomed to e-readers and e-books. And trust me, nothing beats the convenience of having access to hundreds of digital books at your fingers tips at the touch of a screen. But being easily distracted while attempting to read, also became a huge problem! — You try staying zoned in (or “unplugged”) while very literally being tethered to text messages, social media notifications, or emails. Even something as innocent as wanting to write a note to myself, would somehow lead me to facebook or Instagram. *face palm*. Going back old school, you know, actually picking up a physical book, may be the solution to your problem of “not having time to read”.
Or say, you don’t have the same issues I had with being distracted. Maybe the solution for your is to go ultra digital, and embrace the idea of audio books. Trust me, it’s a-mazing to be able to “read” a book while siting in traffic (as you listen to the audio). — It’s an experience that is similar to that of listening to a podcast but with a bit more imagination. And if your goals are more along the lines of unplugging and being less stressed while you’re waiting somewhere, this certainly does the trick. Apps like eAudible is a wonderful place to start.
I’ve not sure how effective in is in assisting with memory retention or flexing the brain, but if your goal is simply to devour more books, or consume them very quickly, this may be the solution for you.
Commit to more than one
Okay, so this may definitely an unconventional idea but lately, I’ve found that it works wonders for me. I’ve been picking up such a wide variety of books: novels, cook books, poetry books, lifestyle/organization books, and DIY books. So reading all the way through one before starting another isn’t very ideal. (I don’t recommend reading many novels simultaneously) but if you are reading a novel along with other types of books, it definitely doable. And for me it’s been so fulfilling because I have such eclectic interests. The main idea is to read each at a steady pace and on a consistent basis (if this is the method you choose). You may find it to be a lot more fulfilling than just sticking with one.