One of the most common goals for women (other than saving money and losing weight) is simply to read more books. But making space in your busy life for this can be challenging. Welcome more reading into your world with these 15 tips on how to read more starting today!You want to read more books. I get that. As a child and teen, I read a LOT. When I was 14, for example, my New Year’s resolution was to read a book for every day of the year – and I made it.
Something started to happen as I got older, however. When I had young children, I couldn’t cope with anything much longer than a magazine article. When I studied at university, my brain got so full with academic writing that it seemed it lacked the space to accommodate any personal reading. Even now, the thought of sitting down all day with a book to read seems like an indulgent luxury.
But we should make time to read more books and also, I think, to read more fiction specifically. After all, as discussed in this article on the importance of reading, reading continues to develop our vocabulary, our empathy, and our memory throughout our lives.
Reading also requires a single-minded focus that is often missing in our busy lives. When I am reading, it’s one of the few times that I’m doing just one thing. It therefore improves concentration and helps you relax.
Knowing something is important, however, doesn’t mean we actually DO it. That’s why I share with you 15 ways that can also help you to read more fiction.
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WANT TO READ MORE BOOKS? KNOW THAT CONTENT IS KING.
1. Choose books you actually enjoy
I cannot tell you how many times I have seen non-readers turn into readers by simply finding the right book. My own son was a big fan of Horrible Histories and the like, but I couldn’t get him to read fiction himself until we stumbled onto John Marsden’s Tomorrow when the war began series. Then he was off.
My husband started reading fiction when I put him on to Lee Child. Reading something you actually enjoy makes all the difference.
Finding these books that you enjoy can be challenging, however, which links us to the next few points.
2. Know your genre
Chances are you have genres that appeal to you more than others. Those genres will replicate themselves from the big screen, to the small screen, to the book. So if you’re struggling to read more books but love the big or small screen, start off by identifying what you like to watch at the movies and on television. Crime and suspense are my main passions – I watched every single episode of CSI- and when you look at my bookshelf you see those same passions there. Having a genre identified gives you a place to start when you go into a bookstore or library.
3. Know your author
Oh the giddy joy of finding a new author that you love- especially when they have 1) a large backlist and b) a series. I LOVE series so much, as you have a whole world you can co-exist in and revisit again and again. If you don’t have any favorite authors, then google “best [insert genre] writers. I did this as a test for suspense and four of the top eight mentioned are four of my faves. If the offerings look a bit dry or ancient, then add the year or even the decade and that will help come up with some popular picks.
4. Reject all judgement
Look, I don’t know about you but I read for fun, not to impress others with my opinion on the latest Man Booker recipient. Nothing makes me more annoyed than people who denigrate other’s choice of reading material by labeling it as trash. Fiction is fundamentally for entertainment and there is nothing wrong with that! Own your book choice and don’t feel compelled to read something because it’s won literary awards.
5. Stop when you’re not having fun
Nothing makes you like reading less than reading a book you’re not into. This year I limped my way through the novel Wool by Hugh Howey, a New York Time’s Bestseller which many of my friends absolutely loved, but I was left untouched by. It’s not really a surprise when you think about it- it isn’t a genre I enjoy at all. I finished it, but it took me over three weeks to read it, which seriously interfered with my goal for the year, which I discuss below. The worse thing is that I knew about a chapter in that it wasn’t going to work for me but I find it VERY hard to stop reading a book once I’ve started.
Don’t be like me- if you want to read more than you need to quit while you’re ahead and stop reading books you don’t like.
Now that you have a selection of books that make you excited to read more it’s time for the next step.
READ MORE BOOKS BY LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT MOMENTS
6. Read before bed
Reading before bed has been the main way I’ve kept my reading habit going, but I earlier this year I realized I was spending more and more time in bed at night browsing on my phone instead. My husband and I made the call to remove the phones from our bedroom in an effort to stop this habit. The bonus was it had a massive improvement on our sleep (if that’s something you’re struggling with, check out 10 tips to a better night’s sleep). Get into bed 30 minutes before you need to be asleep and read.
7. Read in the morning
This is one I mainly reserve for the weekends and just like the situation above, I find it is easier to read more in the morning if I don’t have my phone with me.
Many people add the goal of reading 10 or 20 pages to their morning routine regardless of if it’s a work day or not.
8. Use wait time
We have many times in a day when we’re waiting for things. Maybe we’re waiting for our coffee at the café or at the doctor’s waiting for an appointment. Maybe we’re at the hairdresser’s waiting for our color to set, or at our daughter’s dance lesson waiting for her to finish. Rather than pulling out our phones or reading magazines, seize the opportunity to read more of your book instead.
9. Double down
When I was younger I read literally ALL the time. I could read in the car without getting sick, so every journey was a chance to get me some more book. I even recall walking to the bus stop with my nose in a novel, and then reading on the ride to school. From these examples I could see that I didn’t so much stop everything and read- I took activities I was already doing and added reading to them.
What things do you currently do that you could add reading to? Commuting is perhaps the easiest way to do this, as well as other forms of travel such as flights. I hate to say it, but sitting on the toilet is another winner. If you’re a fan of audiobooks, you could try listening to them instead of music when you go for a walk or run.
10. Switch out your mindless internet browsing for reading
It’s quite possible that there’s a chunk of dead time most evenings when you go to Facebook, head on over to Twitter, then round up with a few articles on Pinterest before repeating the cycle. Try switching out this time by reading your book instead.
If you’ve read these last five suggestions, you’ll see one super important thing – to make these work, your book needs to be near you. Keep your book in your handbag. When you get home, take it out and pop in on the couch. Proximity equals convenience which means it’s much more likely you’ll turn to your book than your other usual options.
READ MORE BOOKS BY TYING READING TO GOALS AND REWARDS
11. Set a goal for the year
Setting goals for your reading can be a great way to motivate yourself to read more books. This year my goal is to read 50 books, 10 of which I wanted to be non-fiction (you’ll notice I haven’t talked much about non-fiction here, as the kind of non-fiction I read is usually related to personal growth. I can’t read these kind of books without taking notes, so I view them more as study than reading!). I record what I read and the date I finished it, and it gives me pleasure to look back and read my list.
12. Read as a reward for unpleasant tasks
When you complete an unpleasant task, or something you have been procrastinating on, give yourself 10 to 15 minutes reading as a reward. This helps to reinforce in your brain that reading is a pleasure and something to be valued.
13. Buy books to treat yourself
90% of my books are second hand- I only keep those books I love and had such a massive stack of ones I didn’t, that trading them in for “new” ones kept me going for several years without having to hand over a dollar. However I DID allow myself to buy those books I was collecting, which were usually ones by my favorite authors or particular series. Those purchases felt special and waiting to read them filled me with anticipation.
14. Have a tempting TBR pile
I have my TBR (to be read) pile on my bedside table. If I don’t have three or four books on there, something feels wrong. I love reading a book but I also love knowing that I have some super exciting ones coming up as well. This increases my anticipation, as mentioned above, and motivates me to speed through what I’m currently reading.
15. Join a book-club
Books clubs aren’t for everyone as you lose that element of personal choice. However they do give you a target and also the discussion can be really interesting, particularly if you’ve picked something a little controversial. If you can’t make a physical bookclub, there are virtual ones you can join as well. (Joining a book club can also be an additional way to make friends if you’re an adult introvert).
Reading adds a whole dimension to your life. A good book will take you to another world like nothing else can. Through books I have learned that I am never alone because other people have experienced the same emotions and events as I have. You deserve the pleasure that is an excellent book. I hope these tips help you add more reading into your life!
P.S. In case you’re interested – these are my top three authors / series:
- Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series which begins with A is for Alibi. I read A is for Alibi around 1989 when I was 15 years old. It was a freebie with a Cosmo magazine, and I’ve been a follower of the series ever since, so that promotion worked! The series features a tough female private investigator in the 1980s so all her sleuthing is done the old fashioned way.
Unfortunately Sue passed away in late December 2017, meaning that, for all us fans of the series, “the alphabet ends at Y”, as she had yet to write her “Z” novel. I want to thank you for all those years of pleasure, Sue. At those times in my life when I was very lonely, reading a new novel by you gave me all the comfort of being with an old friend.
- Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series. He’s a Norwegian detective, who also battles with the drink. I love a flawed protagonist and having that crime element is even better.
- Harlan Coben is my favorite author and Myron Bolitar is one of my favorite characters. I can totally recommend this series- start at the beginning with Dealbreaker.
What books get you fired up to read? Do you have any reading hacks to share that help you read more books?