As most of you know, I do a lot of reading. If I don’t read at least one book a week I feel like I’m slacking off and I definitely feel a little out of whack. When people hear I read over 100 books last year most of them tend to be a bit gobsmacked. Must be nice, not having children and having all that free time to read. And sure, not having kids means I don’t have the parenting commitments of my friends with children, but I do run my own business, teach fitness classes, and work all hours of the day – so it’s not like I am spending ever afternoon leisurely reading and eating cookies (oh how I wish that were the case!).
I also hear from many how they wish they read more, but that they don’t have the time, or simply got out of reading. I get it. I was a big reader as a child, teenager and young adult but as my life got busier, reading fell to the wayside. I was still reading 5-6 books/year but it wasn’t until around 2012 that I made a conscious effort to get back into reading. I started with a goal of reading 12 books in 2012, as I figured 1/month was a reasonable goal. When I easily achieved that, I started increasing my goal number each year to 15, then 20, 25, until in 2016 I read 39 books and was exceedingly pleased with myself.
And then in 2017 I read 103.
What happened between 2016 and 2017 to allow me to read so many more books? A couple things. The first is I stopped being a dumb dumb and renewed my library card. I had, had a library card but it had gone unused for so long it was deactivated. I ordered a new one online for both my local library and the Halifax Regional Library so I could have access to both of their Overdrive libraries. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Overdrive is the app you can use to borrow e-books and audiobooks from your local library without having to leave your bed. Yes, it is quite magical.
5 Ways To Start Reading More
And that’s how it started. I went through the catalogues of both libraries searching for all the books I had been wanting to read but wasn’t able to find at the second-hand bookstore and putting holds on them. The next thing I knew I had more books than I knew what to do with so I dug in and started reading.
Obviously one of the things I have going for me is that I am by nature a fast reader. I’m not a speed reader, but I naturally read quickly. That makes it easier for me to fly through books than it might slower readers, but I have no doubt that you can read more this year than you did last year by implementing a few of these tips.
1. Read to Your Kids
If you do have children – read to them! It might seem like cheating to include short children’s books in your “read” section, but I think you should at least keep track o all the kids books you’ve read as it still counts for something! If you are on Good Reads, create a separate “shelf” for children’s books so you can filter them out if you don’t want to count them. When your kids start getting into longer stories, you can read them and I would absolutely count books like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, A Wrinkle In Time, etc. that you read out loud to your kids as part of your “read” collection. Even if your kids help by reading parts of the book out loud to you – that still counts. Research has shown whether you listen to a book or read a book your brain processes the information it gathers the same way.
2. Listen to Audiobooks
Which brings me to my second (and possibly favourite) tip. Audio Books. I still have a hard time saying I’ve “read” a book when I’ve actually listened to it. And in conversation, I’ll always tell you if I’ve read or listened to a book when it comes up – especially if the narrator was especially amazing. There are some books that you really gain so much more from listening to versus reading, at least in my opinion. One such example is the Harry Potter series. I read them all as they were released, and treasured them so much I couldn’t bear to read them again lest they were any less magical. Last year I saw Pottermore was urging people to join them in re-reading the whole series as part of a virtual book club so I decided to listen to the whole series on audiobook. Oh my goodness. Jim Dale is such a treasure, and if at all possible, made the series even MORE magical than it had been when I read it the first time. If you are going on a long road trip, or have a long daily drive with your kids (or even alone) this series will keep you busy for ages.
You can likely get the audiobooks from your local library’s overdrive account but there might be a waiting list. I was too impatient so ended up buying most of them through audible with my mostly credit and have zero regrets.
The nice thing about audiobooks is that you can listen to them anywhere. I listen to them a lot in the car since I’m on the road so much travelling to and from classes, I’ll also listen to them in the tub, while I workout, on walks, and if I’m into a particularly good one even while I’m cooking or cleaning.
If you commute 20 minutes each way to work, that’s 40 minutes a day which is over 3 hours of extra reading time during your week without even trying.
Aside from the Harry Potter series, I also highly recommend Anne of Green Gables read by Racheal McAdams (I so wish they would get her to narrate the rest of the series), or The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer read by Rebecca Soler if you enjoy YA.
3. Join a Bookclub (IRL or Virtual)
Sometimes we don’t read simply for a lack of inspiration to read – and a book club can be just the thing to spark an interest and inspiration. Most book clubs meet once a month or every other month to discuss a book which gives you ample time to read the title before your meet-up. Many local libraries even have “Book clubs in a bag” (link is to my local library’s program) so you can enjoy the experience of a book club with friends without the cost of going out and buying the books. Can’t find a local book club to join, and don’t feel like creating your own? There are lots of virtual book clubs out there, search on social media and you’ll find lots of options!
4. Visit the Library
Want to read but don’t have the cash to spend on books, and this e-book business is a little over your head? Get yourself into the library! Even if you have no idea what to read head in an take advantage of your librarians. Tell them other titles and authors you’ve enjoyed and they will very likely be able to recommend similar authors or titles that you might enjoy. The same can be said for independent bookstores. Obviously, at the bookstore, you’ll be expected to buy – not borrow – the titles but those employees can be a wealth of knowledge.
Two other sources for choosing book picks (which you can then get at your local library or bookstore) is Good Reads and the What Should I Read Next podcast. Good Reads is a social media platform for readers. You can create different shelves for books you’ve read and those you want to read. You can follow others and if you are lucky enough to have a few big readers on your friends list they will undoubtedly give you lots of book ideas!
The What Should I Read Next Podcast is the podcast of Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs Darcy. If you’re not into the podcast scene, Anne offers lots of great book recaps and recommendations on her blog, but I just love the podcast. Each week she has a guest on who tells her a bit about their reading habits, three books they’ve loved, one they’ve hated and what they are reading now and from that information, she recommends three books she thinks they would enjoy. I learn about at least one book I want to read each time I listen, which means I’m always looking forward to getting to at least a dozen books at any given time!
And I don’t know about you, but I work well on a deadline, so if I know I need to return a book, I’m more likely to buckle in and get through it than if it’s a book I own and can pick up any time at all. This mentality has definitely helped me up my reading game!
5. Revisit Some Old Favourites
There was a time when I wouldn’t count a book I’ve read before as one I’ve read in a given year – and that is foolish. Whether it’s a new read or a re-read it counts! And when you are in a lull and trying to get back into reading, I think revisiting some past favourites can be a great way to catch the reading bug again. I re-read at least one Sophie Kinsella book each year, they are like my palette cleansers and something I really enjoy a relaxing weekend. I also tend to re-read the Emily of New Moon trilogy at least once every two years and have been doing so for at least 20 years!
Now that I’ve shared five ways to read more books this year you might be asking, aside from listening to audio books, you didn’t tell me HOW to get more reading in!? That’s true. Aside from weekends when I tend to spend Saturday or Sunday morning reading, I mostly read before bed. Stormy days, and hot summer days I might kick back and read for a large part of the day, but overall I’m not reading every spare moment. I believe that when you rekindle your desire to read by actually doing it, you’ll naturally find more time to do it. Certainly, people find enough time to waste on Facebook and YouTube, that they can squeeze 15 minutes of reading into their day somewhere!